“I want a Portland songwriter cabal – a group of talented storytellers who commit to help each other grow, share skills and relationships. I know that musicians organically help each other out all of the time- but I want something intentional. I’ve been a grassroots organizer for 15 years and I know that the more we help each other, the more powerful we become.” These words from singer-songwriter Nikole Potulsky could not be more to the point! If we don’t stand together in this local music scene with that goal in mind, we fall alone. I’m a very strong supporter of her idea, and I have absolute faith that if anyone can do this well – it’s Nikole!
In late April, Portland Notes was covering an interesting residency week at Al’s Den. That particular week’s resident musician, Ashleigh Flynn, had created a special singer-songwriter event, during which she and her different guests would introduce a new song every night, co-written by the pair. It turned out to be a fabulous idea to spark creativity, build relationships, and get the ideas blazing! The night I came to cover Flynn’s week, she was guest hosting an artist who was completely new to me – Nikole Potulsky, the former lead vocalist of Portland’s Thin Rail. I spoke to audience members, listened to the show, heard Nikole speak, and knew I had to find out more about her. We met later at Seven Virtues Coffee Shop to chat about her music and her plans. I was impressed so much by this woman and what she had to say, that it has taken me almost a month to think of exactly how to present her – she’s beloved in our community for good reason, she’s motivated from an honest and benevolent heart, and determined to make a difference in the local music scene. For these reasons – I want you to know her, and hear her message I’m a very strong supporter of this idea, and I have absolute faith that if anyone can do this well – it’s Nikole.
Nikole will succeed because she has experience organizing people and continuing a musical journey despite overwhelming challenges. In the early 2000’s, she began playing with a small back up band in Missouri and the Tennessee River Valley. She was well-known and loved, but singing loudly to be heard in bars wore on her voice. Nikole developed vocal nodules and was forced to take a very long break from singing. She moved to Portland in 2004, and has been raising a family and working. In 2013, Nikole auditioned for the lead singer role of the Portland based band Thin Rail, and performed with the band through 2016, when she decided to pursue her own project. With influences ranging from old school country to soul and current indie rock, Nikole listens to and plays what feels right.
Nikole is now in the pre-production stages of her first album – talking to studios, engineers, and other women musicians to get herself educated and prepared for the project. “The most important thing that I have already learned is to take in guidance but then give myself some space to let is all sink in and inform my personal vision”, she says. Nikole’s vision is indeed personal as she shares the intimate details of her life – because she is absolutely truthful with herself and others, she’s completely comfortable being transparent with her music.
Nikole will succeed because her fans absolutely adore her. Her honesty is unparallelled, and that speaks to audiences like nothing else can. The stories she tells freely, both in song and speech, are overwhelmingly moving. When I spoke to people at Al’s Den about Nikole, people simply could not say enough about how much she inspired them. It is not within her to hold anything back, and Portland loves when a skilled artist just opens up and reveals themselves completely. Nikole does that without hesitation. The woman has no fear because she is protected by genuinely pure intent. That’s beautiful – and it attracts support and cooperation. I think she can make this work! She’s looking for a few good people – not just musicians either. Nikole would like to see graphic artists, web designers, clothing designers, media, producers and engineers all come together to form a mutually beneficial collective group. I’m definitely in – this woman can write, she can play, she can sing…but most of all, she can lead!
Please check out Nikole Potulsky’s webpage, and Facebook page for contact information and to offer your support. She’s actively looking for similarly minded musicians and professionals to partner with. There are samples of her current music on Soundcloud. She also performs at Portland Pride main stage on June 18 at 2PM.