SONIC REDUCER Anyone who's thumbed through the oodles of zany organ, squealing chipmunk, and queasy-listening albums from the '50s onwards knows this to be true: every generation has its version of Muzak, whether its members like it not thanks to clueless parental units. And the class of 2025 will undoubtedly have vibe 'n' synth instrumental renditions of "About a Girl," "D'yer Mak'er," and "Cherub Rock" dancing in their heads no thanks to the Rockabye Baby! series on Baby Rock Records that appears to be multiplying like bunnies monthly. What next sleepy-time Mentors? But what would baby lend an ear to once he or she started dabbling in books, student-body politics, and witchcraft? In other words, WWHPLT what would Harry Potter listen to?
Boston's Harry and the Potters have been working off that premise for the past three years, touring the country's finest libraries. After outgrowing San Francisco's main library and drawing several hundred to their show at the Civic Center last year, they've decided to get booked, adult-style, at Slim's, alongside Jurassic Park IV: The Musical, which dares to pick up where the last dino blockbuster left off.
So, I tease, you're doing a real tour this time? "Why is playing libraries not a tour?" the older, seventh-year Harry, Paul DeGeorge, 28, retorts by phone as he hauls T-shirts into the cellar of the Tucson Public Library, the site of that night's show. "It's actually a lot more work, because we set up our sound system every day."
He may be playing in a basement, but DeGeorge and his brother Joe, who appears as fourth-year Harry, aren't playing to our baser instincts. "I thought this would be a great way to play rock to a whole new audience that doesn't experience that," he explains. "If Harry Potter had the cool effect of getting kids to read more, maybe we can get kids to rock more too!"
The proof is in his now-20-year-old sibling. DeGeorge started feeding his younger brother Pixies, Nirvana, They Might Be Giants, and Atom and His Package CDs when the latter was nine, and apparently the scientific experiment paid off. "I could see the effect immediately. By the time Joe was 12, DeGeorge says, "he was writing songs about sea monkeys that referenced the Pixies" and popping up in the Guardian in a story about early MP3.com stars.
And what about the silly kid stuff on Baby Rock Records? "I'd rather hear the original songs," DeGeorge opines. "Instead of Nine Inch Nails for babies, I'd just make a good mixtape for my baby. You can do 'Hurt' and just lop off the ending. It's supereasy anyone can do it!" Read it and weep, Trent.
SERPENT SPIT "So the proctology jokes remain." Thus came the news from filmmaker Danny Plotnick that Nest of Vipers, his freewheeling podcast highlighting the wit and storytelling chops of such SF undergroundlings as Hank VI's Tony Bedard, the Husbands' Sadie Shaw, singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet, and Porchlight's Beth Lisick, was now officially off the KQED site and fully independent (and available through iTunes). "I had a contract for six episodes to be distributed by KQED," Plotnick e-mailed. "Ultimately they released eight episodes. They didn't renew the contract because the show was too edgy for them."
Unfortunately, that also means the customer-service episode that triggered those treasured proctology-convention yuks, which was supposed to go up on the public station's Web site on June 15, has been delayed till July 1 as Plotnick figures out new hosting.
But at least the assembled vipers will continue to writhe unchecked.