The Continuum April 1997
You have to hear this band. String swing, retro bop, nonelectric
- whatever. After a few measures of Harmonious Wail, all the labels start to fall off like last month's post-it notes. Imagine Dan Hicks, Bill Monroe, Django Reinhardt and maybe Benny Goodman ... with the Andrews Sisters. Like I said, you have to hear this band.
The quartet, based in Madison, WI is vocalist Maggie Delaney-Potthoff, her equally hyphenated mandolinist husband Sims, guitarist Doug Brown and bassist Henry Boehm. Sims D-P and Brown, who pick with the best of them, also contribute close-harmony vocals, which is where the Andrew Sisters come in. Now in it's tenth year, the Wail has played the Shawano Folk Festival and the W.C.Handy Blues and BBQ Festival, the Belfast Folk Festival and the Cork Jazz Festival.
You have to hear this singer. Maggie's voice spills out with a smooth sheen and rich color, billowing satin ribbons of sound that you want to wrap around you and hug to your skin. It's a voice that can do anything, too, boozey-bluesy to positively crystalline.
The Wail's latest CD, recorded live at Freiburg, Germany's Zelt Music Festival, ranges from "Swing that Thing" (by Joel Mabus) and Nat King Cole's jumpin' "Straighten Up and Fly Right" to "Swing Slow," a languid original by guitarist Brown, showcasing Maggie's versatility.
Not to slight the Wail's instrumentals. They're as tight as those
Andrew Sisters harmonies and as virtuosic as Maggie's lead work.
There'splenty of picking-to-die-for in this band, plus a bit of
looniness to everything they do that will have you grinning your
face off while you're body-bopping in your seat. Like I said, you
have to hear this band.
- Jan C. Kempthorne-Snow