THE MUSIC MEN Nathan and DeGeorge.
Jacob Nathan and Joe DeGeorge are the principal jingle writers at Ocean State Jingle Lot, a company whose clients range from Providence Place Mall and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to Federal Hill restaurants like Via Roma and Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen.
Part conceptual music project and part actual enterprise, Nathan and DeGeorge’s operation has crafted jingles for more than 60 local businesses. Some are commissioned and some pretty clearly are not — for instance, their plug for the fine dining restaurant Gracie’s in downtown Providence (“The best fuckin’ restaurant in the world! Gracie’s, where all your dreams come true!”).
Highlights of their work include a minor-key ode to Cranston’s Donut Bazar (“They’ll ask me, Why are you so happy? I ate at Donut Bazar. I ate at Donut Bazar today”) and a Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight”-sampling spot for Hudson Street Deli (“Meet your neighbors while you eat your meat!”). Stylistically, the jingles are all over the place: the one for the Stable, the downtown gay bar, sounds like the score for an old cowboy movie and features the sound of horses clomping. The 15-second ad for the Mexican establishment Chilangos, meanwhile, just features two modulated voices saying the name of the restaurant over and over. So far their biggest hit has been the 15-second promo they wrote for AS220’s Foo Fest last year. That one actually got radio play; for now, the others exist primarily on the Internet.
“Did you know that the Block Island Ferry jingle and the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry jingle are the same song?” DeGeorge asks excitedly. We’re talking over coffee at AS220, where DeGeorge has a studio and where Nathan works as lead production manager (aka head sound engineer). DeGeorge is wearing a shirt patterned with blue bears while Nathan has donned a white seersucker jacket and cowboy boots. Several times during the interview people walk over to compliment them on what they’re wearing.
Raised in the Boston area, DeGeorge is classically trained concert pianist who spent much of the last decade touring as half of Harry and the Potters, the rock duo he founded with his brother in 2002. (As inventors of Potter-themed “wizard rock,” they are legendary in certain circles. This weekend they’ll play in South Carolina at the Quidditch World Cup.) Nathan, who also performs in the band Huge Face, has a dual degree in music and communications, so he says that jingles come naturally to him.
When asked whether they have any all-time favorite jingles, Nathan answers quickly. “I grew up in the Boston radio market,” he says, “so the jingles that stood out for me were the ones that got played during Red Sox games. Like 1-800-54-GIANT. Lawyers also tend to have good jingles.”
DeGeorge also has an answer: “New England Telephone!” Anyone who lived in New England before the year 2000, when Verizon burst on the telecom scene, knows the jingle: “We’re the one for you, New England. New England Telephone.” It’s not outwardly catchy and it’s not particularly cheery, but it’s memorable. “I grew up on the Norwood [MA] Automile where the dominant jingles were all for Ernie Boch Jr.,” he says. “All of his jingles are just his name over and over.