Harry George
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Harry George

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"Harry George: singer, songwriter … criminal?"

As it turns out, this sneaky little devil has been infiltrating the bar scene for years now, all the while being completely underage.
“That’s why it’s funny that we’re throwing a 21st birthday party over at Bube’s Brewery,” George says with a laugh in a mid-March interview. “I’m finally legal to play there, and there are a lot of people apparently that owe me drinks.”

The Lancaster-based folkster has been weaseling his way into area bars and clubs since the age of 17, when he decided to test out his originals during open mic sessions. Between his baby face and young-sounding voice, you’d think that someone would have sniffed him out at some point.

So, how did he do it? By being more motivated than anyone his age has a right to be and delivering sets of mature originals inspired by musicians that most people of his generation have only heard in passing on oldies radio. While his peers were hiding in their bedrooms and crying themselves to sleep to the newest Dashboard Confessional album, George was planted at the altar of songwriting legends like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Elvis Costello. “That’s music that you can completely relate to, the Paul Simons, Bob Dylans,” he explains. “People like Dashboard or Rocket Summer, those guys, regardless of how good their writing is, I just can’t get over the image they have. They just don’t seem real half the time.

“Musically, I’m a fan of solid songwriters like your Paul Simons. I’m a big fan of Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty, who are writers who just lay everything out instead of trying to be all artsy and hide words in different metaphors. I’m a big fan of just laying everything down.”

While George has been compared musically to everyone from Oasis to Ben Folds to Beck, he comes across more like a James Taylor for modern times. His unadorned melodies and straightforward guitar work make his songs accessible on the first listen. No shredding, no wicked drum solos – it’s just George, his guitar and a bag full of earnest melodies.

“You become more emotionally involved with a song when you can actually hear what it is,” he insists.
It’s that approach that makes his debut full-length, Distant Locks and the Laughing Clock, a pleasant listen. From stripped-down ballads to rocked-up, bouncy pop songs, the record explores all the corners of folk music. Due out the first week of April, the album will be available at shows and in Borders book stores across America.
After releasing the album and turning 21, George is looking forward to pursuing his career in music in a more, um, legal manner.
“I think there’s a certain level of seriousness that people don’t give you [when you’re underage]. They see young people and they’re just like, ‘Oh, hey, that kid’s playing at the bar again,’” he laments. “So I think it will be nice going out now with a new CD and actually being able to hang out and have a few drinks with people after the shows. It might make people take me a little more seriously.”
He’s already been taken seriously enough to be booked alongside rock greats like Jeremy Enigk and Lovedrug, as well as one of his heroes, Lancaster native Denison Witmer. “That’s definitely one of the biggest highlights, just talking to somebody who is doing the same thing, who is from the same town, just hearing how they’ve gone about doing things and how their experiences have been. That helps so much when it comes to knowing what you have to do to get your music out there,” he says.
George has a pragmatic view of his chances to make it as a musician, but he’s also got the hustle and determination to give himself a real shot. He writes his own music, books his own shows, does his own promotion and plays anywhere and everywhere he can.

“A lot of people who want to be taken seriously don’t do the work to be taken seriously. There are so many people these days who want to be a rock star in like a week, and it’s not going to happen,” he figures.

Let’s hope he makes it to that 21st birthday party without collapsing first.

- Fly Magazine


Discography

Distant Locks and The Laughing Clock (2007)
Harry George - Self-Titled (2006)
Campfire Rock (2004)

Photos

Bio

I started writing music at 16 years old when I decided that my high school graduation project would be to write and record a record. The album was recorded in a tool shed sized studio run by former pop-punk rocker Conrad Tolosa of Ghoti Hook. The thrill of recording led to playing coffee shops and bars in my hometown to get the same rush. Who would've thought that a high school graduation project would have led me to late night gigs in smoke filled bars at 16 years old. It's funny how things just snowballed from there. People really enjoyed the music I was writing a young age. This led to more shows, which led to more recording, which led to even more shows. By the time I turned 21 years old, I had a long list of shows under my belt. I had traveled up and down the east coast playing wherever anybody would have me. I've had the opportunity to share the stage with other amazing songwriters such Mason Jennings and Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate. My 2007 album "Distant Locks and the Laughing Clock" was distributed to a number of Border's Bookstores along the east coast and was sold heavily at every live performance. Now at 22, I live in New York City and continue to gig regularly. I am recording a new album that is due out early this spring (09'.)