Award-winning jazz masters Harmonius Wail in Monroe, Wis., March 15

Staff Report

MONROE, Wis. — Saturday, March 15, at 7:30 p.m., the Monroe Arts Center (1315 11th St., Monroe, Wis.) presents the award-winning Madison, Wis.-based trio Harmonious Wail.

Drawing from the rich influence of American jazz, swing and gypsy music, Harmonious Wail cuts through the normal boundaries of those genres with its blend of enticing musical arrangements and smoldering vocals, each one masterfully executed on the mandolin, guitar and upright bass.

Sims Delaney-Potthoff, Harmonious Wail’s founder, leader and mandolinist, credits Jethro Burns with the band’s unique, enticing style of mandolin-driven gypsy-jazz. Sims studied for seven years with Burns, the legendary jazz mandolinist, laying the foundation for Harmonious Wail’s acoustic string sound. He furthered his studies at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, honing his skills while immersing himself in the “gypsy” music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Sims also sings, writes and arranges for the Wail.

Vocalist Maggie Delaney-Potthoff is a captivating performer. Equally at home scatting over a bebop tune, soaring on a solo, or blending with the Wail’s tight vocal harmonies, she delivers both powerhouse tunes and ballads with confidence and ease. Her sensual, sinuous movements (a product of her background in dance and theater) and her use of a cardboard box played with brushes as a drum add to the charm she exudes onstage.

Bassist Jeff Weiss brings to the Wail a mesmerizing technical facility on the fretboard, a sophisticated and versatile style, and a powerful ability to create musical ambiance and rapport. Jeff studied under Richard Davis for five years and was principle bassist for UW-Madison’s Symphony Orchestra.

Harmonious Wail appears regularly on National Public Radio, as well as on the stages of performing arts centers, festivals and clubs around the world. As winners of multiple MAMA (Madison Area Music Award) awards ranging from Best Jazz CD, Best Ensemble Vocalists of the Year, Favorite Jazz Band, Best World Artist and Best World Song, to Best Instrumentalist, they continue to wow their fans during their more than 20-year history. The website Jazz comments, “… no one does it any better than Harmonious Wail.”

Along with a rigorous touring schedule, Sims and Maggie have consecutively organized and hosted the Midwest Gypsy Swing Fest for the past 12 years. The festival held on a weekend each September in rural Fitchburg, honors the gypsy swing style of jazz popularized by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli.

Reserved seat tickets for Harmonious Wail are $25, $20 and $10 for students 18 years of age and younger. Tickets may be purchased in person at the box office at 1315 11th St., by calling the Monroe Arts Center at (608) 325-5700 or 888-596-1249, or online at

From the March 12-18, 2014 print edition

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