BANDSPEAK, Interview

5 Questions w/ Paul DeGeorge of Harry and the Potters


I met Paul DeGeorge as our “indie rock” bands intersected, sharing bills @ shows being put on in basements and colleges around the Boston area in 2001 (or so) I want to say. That was before he and his brother started the all ages show championing, “wizard rock” phenomenon called Harry and the Potters. As their 13th annual(!) holiday celebration looms I asked a few questions of this DIY mainstay…

Harry and the Potters’ 13th Annual Yule Ball happens @ the Middle East sunday 12/17 and is ALL AGES

Dan Shea:
So, this is the 13th annual yule ball you all are throwing in the Boston area?! How, and where did the tradition gets its start?

Paul DeGeorge:
The Middle East has been the home of the Yule Ball since its first year back in 2005. I’m a big fan of xmas music and holiday traditions in general, but I think this event is most directly influenced by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Hometown Throwdown, where – even at the peak of the popularity – the band would do a weeklong holiday stand at the Middle East Downstairs. I loved that the Bosstones would always bring along so many great local and national acts for those shows, and the Throwdown really felt like an important and special local tradition. The only problem with the Bosstones event was that only one of those shows would be all ages and that was a tough ticket to get when I was in high school. Kudos to the Middle East for always letting our event be all ages and for being down to clown when I first brought them a list of wizard cocktails (and mocktails) 12 years ago. We couldn’t ask for a better partner on this event. 

Being ignorant of the Harry Potter universe (outside of seeing some of some of the films at different points in time) how would you define the particular magic of this tale and these characters in a sentence or three?

This is actually kind of tricky question to answer, but here’s my basic observation after spending 15 years in this fandom. One of the main reason why Harry Potter has earned such an important place in our culture is that it’s a story built on a foundation of equality and empathy and it’s set in a beautifully-realized world where anyone – regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation – can find space to imagine themselves. 

Are there new waves of Harry and the Potters fans being created alongside the new waves of young people that are surely becoming Harry Potter fans as time goes by?

I haven’t conducted any scientific surveys or anything, but every year at the Yule Ball I’ll do an informal poll on stage and usually about 3/4 of the audience is seeing us play for the first time. So…yes? I think a lot of people who grew up with Harry Potter or read it in their 20s or 30s are becoming parents and they’re eager for ways to share this story with their children.

Does Harry and the Potters have an expiration date? Will there always be Harry Potter fans, and thus a want and an audience for the band?

This was a question we got a lot in the mid-00’s as we approached the publication of the final book, but here we are a decade later and clearly the series has some staying power. We’re still getting lots of booking requests, but we turn most of them down because we’re not doing this full time anymore. Joe’s been playing with Downtown Boys for the past couple years and my wife and I run an art gallery and retail shop where we live in Lawrence, Kansas.

What is the strangest Harry Potter related situation in which you have found yourself?

Teaching Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) how to play Smells Like Teen Spirit.


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