Mike Potter`s answer to:
What is Harry's Tricks?
Many people ask me when I’m playing “what is your band called?”
I reply Harry’s Tricks. But it`s quite different from a band. Yes we have a style though it varies a little; it’s perhaps more like a theme, perhaps an ethos.
Since I started playing old pop songs (1920s 1930s and 1940s) I discovered there were songs that had been recorded by many popular artists, American and English, this was an inspiration.
Unlike the modern musical context of many different styles and subgroups of music, connected to various identities, it seemed that the popular music of this time was being “fed” into from all genres; classical, blues, ragtime, New Orleans jazz, Middle Eastern, southern American Spanish and other folk traditions.
This popular music was a melting pot of a common musical sense, music of common sense. The uniform became dance, a rhythm of largely 2/4 called swing (A feeling as much as a technical musical definition). In fact “swing” is not captured in dots on paper. (Western classical tradition contributed the written music and along with it ”uniform piano tuning” and harmony.) What we have predominately is song written in English, swinging.
In England bands were playing songs from all over the world with band leaders playing these songs at dance halls and making them popular. The dots written down for the musicians, the recordings came later which brought the most famous performances on vinyl. Often the songs were written by Jewish songwriters and played by black Americans. The “American songbook” is created and Jazz followed.
So how does this relate to Harry’s Tricks?
Well I guess on some small personal scale I’m trying to recreate this “common sense” music. I sing and swing in English and then create a band of musicians from many backgrounds and experience. We then play and a natural phenomena takes place, tapping into the commonality of this original melting pot of popular music. We jam, it takes off and magic happens, we understand one another.
The audience is pleased. A band is created.
In days gone by with no work I’d busk, cheer myself up, meet a few people and make a few pennies. Now playing with wonderful musicians in many different settings with often more than a few pennies. I got better.
What do you get then, when you book Harry’s Tricks?
Firstly an enormous wealth of experience in delivering musical entertainment. Done in the style of 1920's, 1930's and 1940's popular swing music. It’s never the same twice and always with a sensitivity to the audience. In a pub we might range from miserable to silly or jazzy or at a wedding romantic and happy. It all depends on the day, some king of magic to lighten and enrich a place and time, whatever that might be.
We aim to provide a basic musical need; people smile; perhaps dance; talk more or less; laugh and come together! Music!