By Kristi Kates
Under-the-radar duo The Potters Field may be a little tricky to find on the Internet, but you can find its members all round Northern Michigan, performing at local venues as well as clubs in the Ann Arbor region. Rochelle Clark is one of those two members, and shell be performing her own solo show as part of the Charlevoix Librarys Winterfolk Concert Series this month.
Clark, who says shes been interested in playing music since she was a little girl, was inspired in part by family, and in part by an inherent need to craft music.
Both my dad and my grandpa were musicians, so music has always been a big part of my life, she explains.
Currently working on what she calls the singer-songwriter thing, Clark lives in Chelsea, and has been frequenting Northern Michigan as one-half of The Potters Field at Shorts Brewery in Bellaire and The Noggin Room in Petoskey.
I love Northern Michigan, Clark says, Ive had some wonderful gigs in the area. With The Potters Field, we love to get up here as often as possible.
Clark says shes new to solo performance, as well as to writing songs of her own, but her experiences with The Potters Field are seeing her progress quickly, adding another facet to her performances aside from her live work with the duo.
I play the guitar, and I attempt to play the mandolin, she says. I took weekly lessons for two years, but Ive learned more about my instrument by playing out than I ever did from all those lessons. The lessons built the foundation, but you learn so much more when youre forced to perform in front of an audience. And Im learning a lot from my duet partner (The Potters Fields other half, John Natiw) about the craft of songwriting.
The audiences certainly show up to hear Clark perform. Her own brand of Americana music, which is seasoned by folk, bluegrass, and alt-country (I love alt-country music, she says), is also inspired by the likes of Brandi Carlile, Kasey Chambers, and Gillian Welch, to name a few. She also says shes somewhat obsessed with American southern-rock band The Black Crowes.
Most of her original songs to date, though, are more personal in nature and relate closely to her own life.
I find Ive always got ideas floating around in my head, so its fun to try and track them down and see where theyll lead, she says, I get inspired by all kinds of things, but most of my ideas arrive out of conversations with friends and family. I keep a small notebook with me wherever I go, and write down things that strike me.
Something thats struck Clark about performing in Northern Michigan, she says, are the people who attend her shows. While the local scene may be quite a bit different from her regular stomping grounds in the Chelsea/Ann Arbor area, the region appeals to Clark both artistically and through the friends and fans shes made here.
The connection with people I might not otherwise have met is the most rewarding thing about performing in general, she explains, and Ive been blessed to meet some extraordinary individuals over the last two years. Its allowed me to grow as a musician and as a person - its an unexpected perk.
Both Clark and The Potters Field stand to meet a lot more people this spring and summer, with big plans on the way in the studio and on the touring circuit.
The Potters Field is recording our first full-length CD, and were hoping to have it completed and released this summer, Clark says, were also trying to put together a tour for summer or early fall. Thats another perk of performing - getting to travel to so many different places! she smiles.
Rochelle Clark will be performing as part of the Winterfolk Concert Series at the Charlevoix Public Library on Monday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. For info, contact the library at 231-547-2651.