Ben Potter moved from Lacey to Nashville, Tennessee, to focus on his career as a songwriter.
But Potter, who’ll play Wednesday at Lacey In Tune and Aug. 12 at Music in the Park in Olympia, isn’t focused on writing — or playing — country songs.
“I am definitely not country,” Potter said emphatically in a phone interview this week. “We rock a little bit, but with an acoustic guitar.”
He does embrace the term Americana, which is often defined as somewhere in the intersection of country and rock, with perhaps other genres thrown in. (It’s the label given to Lucinda Williams, who played in Olympia this month.)
He compares his sound to that of John Mellencamp or perhaps even a contemporary version of the Eagles. He also likes a touch of jazzy pop, he said, maybe something like Jason Mraz.
“If you say country, people would expect us to be doing something like current country, which is about the parties in the cornfields and the tailgates and the trucks, and we definitely do not do that,” he said.
After all, he is a Northwesterner.
One reason he’s back in the Northwest for the summer is his disdain for the heat. “The summers in Nashville are horrible,” he said. And no, the heat here this year is not the same thing, he said, because it’s so much less humid here.
He also is visiting family and friends, and playing shows in Western Washington through September.
“He’s a hometown boy coming back,” said Kim Combs, event and volunteer coordinator for the Olympia Downtown Association, which sponsors Music in the Park.
His hometown is actually Pe Ell, but he lived in Lacey from 1991 until he and wife Barbara Potter bought a place in Nashville a year and a half ago. They’ve kept their Lacey home, too.
Potter doesn’t just have multiple homes, either. He also has multiple bands: He’ll play the Olympia and Lacey shows with his Northwest band. In Nashville, he plays live shows with a different set of musicians, and his next album, due out early next year, will be recorded with still a third group.
“Nashville has all genres,” he said. “A lot of people have moved to Nashville in the last few years to get in touch with that lyric writing that pop music was missing for so long. If you listen to pop music in the past few years, you’ll notice a lot more lyrical content.
“And there are a lot of rock bands in Nashville, like Kings of Leon.”
Potter said he co-writes with many other songwriters, often mixing with those who specialize in different genres to get fresh inspirations.
“You can find anything in Nashville,” he said. “That’s what’s so cool about that town.”
What: Potter, formerly of Lacey and Pe Ell and now of Nashville, Tenn., will play in Lacey and Olympia while spending the summer in his native Northwest.
Lacey in Tune
When: Noon Wednesday.
Where: Huntamer Park, 618 Woodland Square Loop SE, Lacey.
Music in the Park
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 12.
Where: Sylvester Park, Capitol Way, Olympia.