Reviewers say that musical talents like these are just a taste of what Harmonious Wail, a Continental jazz-meets-gypsy music trio is bringing to the Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey this month.
TWENTY YEARS OF TUNES
Harmonious Wail has been together 20 years, which puts them in that rarified air only occupied by a limited number of bands that have stuck together for two decades or more.
Regular performers on NPR and at a wide range of clubs and performing arts centers, “The Wail” is known for a quirky stage presence.
Combined with their top-notch musicianship, The Wail puts on distinctive, impressive performances, all stemming from their unlikely hometown of Madison, Wisc.
“Maggie [Delaney-Potthoff]and I spent a couple of years at the Berklee School of Music [in Boston],” singer/mandolin player Sims Delaney-Potthoff said. “The notion then was to form a jazz unit with mandolin and violin where, traditionally, the saxophone and trumpet would be.”
The band jelled after bass player Jeffo Weiss joined about four years ago, Sims Delaney-Potthoff said.
“We are the most harmonious group of musicians I have ever – ever – worked with,” he said.
SPACE FOR SOUND
The biggest factor that Sims Delaney- Potthoff thinks makes The Wail a success is the fact that they are “all sympatico,” as he put it.
“We all feel the music, and rate integrity and honesty through the music very, very high on the list,” he said.
Songs like “Minor Swing,” “Bossa Dorado,” “Peace of Mind,” and Wail original “Things That Go” showcase the trio’s sound.
“The space created within a trio is really freeing,” Sims Delaney-Potthoff said. “We all find that we use the space to create more excitement and lift, and we all follow each other energy-wise.”
Most recently, they’ve poured their energy into their latest album, “Bohemian Tango,” which they recorded both in their home stomping grounds of Madison, and out in Philadelphia.
“We started the tracking in Philly,” Sims Delaney-Potthoff said, “and back in Madison we brought in a few extra gems – piano, a drummer, a saxophone player and a melodica player. The sessions were tons of fun.”
Calling the album “an excellent showcase” for the band, Sims Delaney-Potthoff said that the album’s theme revolves around freedom and energy, both the energy that they project with their music, and the energy that the music brings back to them.
They’ll be sharing all of it onstage with guitarist Gonzalo Bergara and his quartet as their special guest for the CTAC show, which Sims Delaney-Potthoff says will make the night even more special.
“It will be great to reconnect with our Northern Michigan fans, and to bring them a Harmonious Wail that is playing better than ever,” he said.
Harmonious Wail with special guest Gonzalo Bergara will be performing on Sat., May 10 at 7:30pm at the Crooked Tree Arts Center in downtown Petoskey as part of the Blissfest Concert Series. Visit blissfest.org or crookedtree.org for more info and tickets.