Harry and The Potters 2019 Library Tour Hits SB

By Joanne A Calitri   |   August 1, 2019
Joe and Paul DeGeorge, of Harry and The Potters, perform at the main library in our town as part of their summer tour

Millennial Massachusetts-born brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge, the Harry and The Potters band, arrived at the Santa Barbara Public Library on Saturday, July 27, on their whirlwind U.S. Summer Tour, and part of the library’s annual Harry Potter birthday celebrations for literacy. The band’s gigs are at all major libraries and clubs, and the next stop is the Troubadour in L.A.

They are given credit as being one of the first wizard-rock bands, with a less than a humble start – their on-the-spot performance to six friends in their backyard summer of 2002, with seven songs they made up an hour before. The lyrics of the songs were based on the first four Harry Potter books (1998 – 2002), referencing the troubles of adolescence.

The fact that Potterdom took hold and created many subcults of Harry worshipers, clothes, eye glasses, impersonators, movies and increased the popularity of reading in suburban households, the band decided to quit their day jobs, and did pop-ups. They took an intentioned flight on Harry’s broomstick of subsequent books and movies, and released their punk performance art music with gigs at libraries, bars and top venues like the Cavern Club Liverpool. They were masters at involving the audience to participate in the song, much like a comic convention, and are said to inspire other “wizard-rock” bands.

In 2005, they partnered with Andrew Slack, Seth Reibstein, and Sarah Newberry to form The Harry Potter Alliance non-profit organization based in political activism and literacy, and also formed the Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club – an extended play syndicate – and appeared in the documentary films, We Are Wizards and Wizard Rockumentary. And yes, somewhere in the mix, they were contacted by Warner Brothers to cease all copyright infringements. The DeGeorges say they reached a “gentleman’s agreement.” A percentage of the proceeds from gigs and merch are donated.

Lumos, their first album in 13 years, was released this year with a Kickstarter to cover the cost. The songs follow the plot of Deathly Hallows (published in 2007), the 7th book in the Potter series. On the LP are musicians Brad Mehlenbacher, the drummer and guitarist for the wizard rock-band Draco and the Malfoys, and anti-folk singer Kimya Dawson in a duet with Paul on the song, “Where’s Ron?” The music uses twists of saxophone on “Hermione’s Army” and honky-tonk on “Gone Campin,” but pretty much stays in pace with their other releases, a band who’s likely heroes range from the Foo Fightersto the songsThe Taste Of Ink” by The Used and “Swing, Swing” by The All-American Rejects.

My interview with Paul and Joe DeGeorge:

Q. Why tour libraries? 

A. Public libraries are one of the few institutions in late capitalism that provide free access to resources and knowledge to all people. The utopian vision of the library is something to celebrate and support. By doing our performances in libraries, people are able to come to a place dedicated to housing and preserving the media of our culture. I can’t think of a better place for people to come celebrate the stories they love in the form of a rock and roll show.

You started as a Potter cult-band…

There is a lot of responsibility to interpreting the character and story of Harry Potter. These stories are a cultural touchstone for many and we are thoughtful about how we should represent the boy wizard as a rock and roll band. The stories have some deep themes of social justice running through them, and we try to amplify those with our performance. Hermione starts S.P.E.W., an ambitious labor organizing movement, and later on Harry, Hermione, and others do the work of founding what is essentially a student union called Dumbledore’s Army to advocate for a better learning environment. The Order of the Phoenix is focused on curtailing the rise of neo-fascist Death Eaters and their supremacy ideals that infiltrate institutions like the Ministry of Magic. These stories are inspirational for activists, and for those engaged in collective action. I think part of our responsibility in interpreting these stories is to highlight what Harry is going through during the second rise of Voldemort in ways that parallel real-world issues of justice and access to resources and privilege.

The band’s favorite song lyric?

We have a new song called “Hermione’s Army” that attempts to illustrate the activist spirit of Hermione. The chorus is “She is hoping to do some good in this world,” and is inspired by something she says to the Minister of Magic when he suggests she pursue a career working for the established power structures. But one of the verses is, “Just because it’s that way doesn’t mean it should stay / She’s got the vision and the brains to make a change / The world may not be ready for Elvish welfare but she’s not waiting for the world she’s gonna push it there!”

Did you meet Joanne Rowling (aka J. K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith)?

We never met Rowling. Paul visited her garage once and left her a trophy of a witch riding a broomstick that said, “To the World’s Greatest Witch, J.K. Rowling, with love from Harry and the Potters.” She wrote us a very nice thank you email. If you get an email from her, it says Owl Post for the sender.

Music you listen to?

We’ve been inspired by They Might be Giants, and are listening to their discography in the van. Dawn Riddle, who is on tour with us, is in a new band called Hot Gum. Neil Fridd, on tour with us doing special effects, has a project called Terror Pigeon that is sensational. One of my favorite bands is iji. In the van we’ve been listening to an italo disco tape, Rush, Buffy Sainte Marie, Neil Ciceriga’s mashups known as Mouth Sounds, Dear Nora, Mega Bog, Bruce Springsteen, Fugazi, Priests, Bad Moves. We’re really into Plantasia now.

What interview question do you want to ask your fans?

What is making the world better for everyone?

411: www.harryandthepotters.com


A) Joe and Paul DeGeorge, of Harry and The Potters, perform at the main library in our town as part of their summer tour


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