Bent Winged Snitches Play Historic Muggle Venue
Above: Lead-Singer Lashaunta Williams has a smoke break before starting her set at the famous Po’ Monkey’s in Mississippi.
“We always wanted to shake things up,” Lashaunta Williams says, taking a drag off of her Wentworth’s Heart-Teller, and exhaling a cool, lavender smoke, traced with orange. The side of the box tells me the combination speaks of introspection and sparks of anticipation, which tells in rockstar’s stance and the way she purses her lips as she grinds the butt of her cigarette under the heel of her stiletto, “But I don’t think we ever expected all this,” she finished pulling another cigarette from her cleavage and lighting it with a slow inhalation.
“This” includes the sold-out American tour the Snitches are finishing up tonight, and the much anticipated European tour they’ll start in October, which kicks off with a Halloween Show in the Catacombs of Paris. Rumor has it their backup dancers will include the animated skeletons of some of France’s most notable dead, all of whose ghosts approved before their bodies were disinterred. It also includes an album that has gone double platinum, and a swarm of dedicated fans that call themselves, “Seekers.”
And some of them don’t even know why.
“Yeah, we’ve got a Muggle following,” Lorelei Peters says, back in the trailer pulled up behind Po’ Monkey’s. They’re busy tracing runes down the side of their neck, carefully transcribing an ancient Nordic enchantment for strength to bolster their vocal chords. Lorelei, or Lei, is the bassist and also something of the group banshee; a power-wailer whose shrieks punctuate their unique set and punctuate Lashaunta’s otherwise haunting melody. Lei also prefers the pronoun “They,” as the musician doesn’t believe in gender, at least it applies to them, “Bronte was chill with using ‘they’ as a singular pronoun,” Lorelei informed me while dabbing a bit of rouge on a single exposed nipple, “So f*ck all if that’s not good enough for me too, and modern grammar be f*cked.”
I ask more about the band’s Muggle following, and it’s Thai, the group’s drummer, who speaks up. Normally soft-spoken, “Tiny” Thai Hernandez seems to always be the first to jump in when the band’s non-magical following gets called into question, ‘We’ve gotten a lot of flack from the government about it, but technically we never marketed it to the Muggles, and there’s nothing in our lyrics that actually exposes the magical world, so we haven’t violated any laws. As for the concerts…” the tiny woman shrugs, “They can’t tell us not to. We don’t work any magic into our act, and our magical fans know that there are sometimes Muggles in the crowd and to keep things on the down-low.”
It is this, more than anything else, that has given the group a reputation as rebels and have many older witches and wizards up in arms. It isn’t the Snitches’ overt sexuality, or their music itself, which advocates the next best thing to anarchy in the opinion of many Wizarding authorities…no, the Snitches are best known for their belief that the Statute of Secrecy, which many claim has protected the magical community for centuries, be disassembled so Muggles can be let in on the secret.
“Well thank on it, yeah?” says Collette West, the band pianist and organist as she carefully applies blue wode to the side of her face. Her golden eyes openly proclaim her lycanthropy to the world, even though she uses contacts to actually give them that amber hue, “Who came up with the statute? Those European bastards who let the Church get away from them. Terrified of being killed because their neighbors thought they were evil, right? But everywhere else in the world magical folks were living out and openly for centuries after. But Europeans made them stop, said it was too dangerous, when they were the bastards bringing those dangerous beliefs. And then,” she spreads her hands and widens her eyes, “Oops! Well it’s too dangerous to use magic, even if you’re defending your Muggle neighbors from our imperial intentions! Better sign the Statute or we’ll have to come down hard on you! Or worse…we’ll get your Muggles to do it for us.”
Lashaunta, who has rejoined the group by now, snorts and makes sure her wand is hidden just beneath the hem of her skirt, “Convenient, right? Be afraid of the Muggles, even though they’re our Muggles, and we’re the ones telling you not to use magic near them. Also ignore the fact we’re profiting off it all when they bring your culture and treasures back to fill our bank vaults, and your kids back to work our fields.”
The conversation continues on this thread for a while. Its clearly a favorite of the band. When I ask about their choice of venue, it’s Lorelei who answers, “Our music comes from a lot of places. I mean, we’ve made jokes about old-timers like Celestina, but she was the witch who taught me how to shriek when I was just a little one playing in my grandmother’s firebird reserve…but most of our influences are strictly Americana. Hip-hop, folk-rock, and, of course, the Blues, grandaddy of them all. And you don’t get more Blusey than Po’Monkeys. Its, like, the last real juke-joint in this part of the south. Its places like this where the blues was born.”
“It took a lot of work,” Talbert Finnigan, the band’s manager confides as the band is getting ready to take the stage, “But we worked things out with the owner and with the local authorities. The DSO realized they couldn’t prevent us from playing, so they’ve got agents throughout the crowd in case the worst happens, and we’ve taken some…steps…to make sure we can identify the Muggles in the crowd. I’m expecting a great show.”
The show is, of course, incredible, and despite the fears of the locals, nothing happens that this reporter, or the attendant agents, believe broke the Statutes. The Snitches signed autographs for Muggles and magical folks alike after the show, then took off.
“I’m looking forward to a break,” Thai tells me after I was invited to join them of their “bus,” which is really more of a mansion on wheels, “Its been a crazy couple of months…awesome, but crazy. Can’t wait for Paris though, and the rest of Europe. We’re going to take the message right to source…I’m sort of hoping for fireworks.”
~Daria Stones, Music Reporter for The Whippoorwill, the AWC’s premier musical journal. June, 23 2014.