Spotlight On: A Wail of a concert at Godfrey Daniels
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by CAMILLE CAPRIGLIONE
Harmonious Wail creates a captivating medley of jazz, swing, gypsy folk and torch songs, blended with sultry vocals and impressive mandolin.
Harmonious Wail makes “an epic return” to the Lehigh Valley, 8 p.m. Nov 14, Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem.
Bandleader and mandolinist, Sims Delaney-Potthoff, his wife, Maggie Delaney-Potthoff, who is the band’s vocalist, and bassist Jeff Weiss, all hail from Madison, Wisc. They met there and have been performing together for four years, although Delaney-Potthoff originally founded the band in 1987.
With seven albums to date, Harmonious Wail worked with two previous record labels before creating its own label, Bufflehead.
The band’s most recent album, “Bohemian Tango” (2013, Bufflehead) is a blend of Americana-flavored gypsy jazz via mandolin, master bass playing and smoldering vocals.
“Trouble in the Fields” and “There Will Never Be Another You” (featuring Dave Adler and Kelby Kryshak) showcase the band’s mesmerizing and sophisticated sounds.
“We stay pretty consistent, but adding repertoire, with constant growth,” Delaney-Potthoff says in a phone interview.
Delaney-Potthoff believes that bands should not tailor their music to what is trendy. “That’s a recipe for failure.” He stresses the importance of integrity in repertoire. “We’re doing what we love, so there are no hardcore shifts. We just be ourselves.”
Delaney-Potthoff cites his influences as Django Reinhardt, Clifford Brown and his teacher, mandolin guru Kenneth “Jethro” Burns.
“As for Maggie, she’s a singer’s singer. She has a beautiful, angelic voice.” She favors the sounds of Billie Holiday, and New Grass Revival, with whom she has performed.
Delaney-Potthoff attended the Berklee College of Music, Boston from 1984 – ’87.
“My training there was almost an ethnicity. I know a fellow Berklee student when I hear one, by the way they arrange music.”
He performed in Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley before moving back to Wisconsin. The band enjoys playing at Godfrey Daniels and Musikfest whenever possible.
“The flagship of what we do is performing. So we fill in other projects and studio time around that.”
The band hopes to release another LP in 2015.
Their tour takes them to Cleveland, Annapolis, Washington D.C., then Sellersville, Lansdowne and Williamsport.
Harmonious Wail strives to create a transformative evening for audiences. “We live and die by our performances. We dedicate ourselves to the listeners.
“We often say that we’re not musicians, we’re travel agents. We take people to a different space and mindset.”
About the music, he says simply, “Listen to it. You’ll feel better.”
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