Books and dogs and rock & roll

The bookish, slightly geeky and very fun Harry and the Potters play for an appreciative crowd.

You know how parents and kids rarely see eye-to-eye on music? How parents are usually the ones yelling, “Turn that [insert desired expletive here—or not] down!”? Not so much in our household. I’ve been known to ask the girls to turn it up, more often than not. And as often as not, when I’ve gotten in the car after Marion’s been driving alone, the music will be cranked when I start the engine.

Still, we’ve gone through cycles of overlap and divergence with the girls and their music. For a long time, influenced by local bands we saw when we went out, mainly in St. Louis, Marion and I gravitated to roots rock and roadhouse music. But as first Claire and then Laurel got into going out for music [which usually entailed one or both of us taking them to shows], we got exposed to garage, punk, art rock and various other iterations often involving power chords [never more than three], screaming and plentiful F-bombs. Eyes [and ears] were opened. This stuff was loud, raw and even dangerous—you know, what rock is supposed to be.

So of course, as we were really getting into this, the girls veered off into an area we couldn’t follow. I’m not sure what the technical term is, but the layman’s term is whiney singer/songwriter. You know. Rufus Wainwright. Conor Oberst. There were seriously times I would drop them at one venue for a show of nice, sensitive, introspective music and would drive to another for a screaming punk show.

Younger daughter Laurel has gotten into more rock music again, some of it pretty interesting. It’s not the primal stuff I crave [someone recently loaned me a Sonic Youth disk and, while it’s all right, it feels a little too commercial to me], but, well, interesting.

And perhaps no band she’s following is more interesting than Harry and the Potters. To get the most out of them, it helps to be a fan of the Harry Potter franchise of books and films. I’m not. But what this Boston duo—brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge—has done with it, both musically and how they choose to perform, is fun, off-center and apparently genuine. I’ll let their website tell you their story.

The idea is that the Harry Potter from Year 7 and the Harry Potter from Year 4 started a rock band. And now, no one can stop the wizard rock.

Paul and Joe are brothers. They started this band in the summer of 2002. The legendary tale of their origin goes like this:

Joe was planning to have a rock show in the shed in the backyard. People had been invited. But then all the bands cancelled. So that morning, the time was finally appropriate to bust out an idea that had been incubating in Paul’s head for some time: Harry and the Potters. That morning, over the course of an hour, Paul and Joe wrote 7 songs. Then, they went out to the shed and practiced them for half an hour. And then, later in the day, they performed them for about 6 people. It was awesome. The place went nuts.

“The place went nuts.” Six people. How can you not smile at that?

Another thing I like about them is the venues they choose to play. Libraries. Bookstores. Art galleries. Oh, and a hot dog jamboree. Which is how they made it onto the Kitchen Boombox, where they will be seen by ten men and a dog, as we like to say in the advertising business.


A few days ago, Laurel sent me a link to the blog I am an American and I Eat Hot Dogs. She knows I write a food blog, of course. And that I like hot dogs. But why she thought I might find this particular blog interesting is that it is by one of the Harrys, brother Paul. In his blog, he reviews hot dogs eaten in his travels. Or as he puts it on his home page, “Paul chronicles the inseparable adventures of everyday life and hot dogs.”

Like the band and its music, the blog is fun and unexpected. And with the decidedly punkish performance below, Harry and the Potters just may have found another fan.

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