If you go

Harmonious Wail

Where: Loews Madison Hotel, 15th and M streets NW

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 22

Info: $20; cocktails and light fare available for purchase; 410-269-0777

Fans of Harmonious Wail find themselves drawn time and again to the quartet's Gypsy Swing sound in the great tradition of Django Reinhardt, who created the style and Stephane Grapelli who further developed it.


Harmonious Wail's founder and leader, mandolinist Sims Delaney-Potthoff is flattered by the comparison even as he takes it one step further.

"We use Gypsy Swing as a common point of entrance; we all agree that's where we're meeting," he said. "And as soon as we hold that in common, we use it as a point of departure [to] create our own music."

Further influenced by the blues, folk music and what Delaney-Potthoff calls "cowboy stuff" he and fellow musicians will perform for fans this upcoming Thursday at the district's popular jazz venue, the Madison Hotel.

In addition to Sims Delaney-Potthoff, the Madison, Wis.-based group includes guitarist and vocalist, Tom Waselchuk, who jumped at the chance to join the group in 2001, having performed with Sims from 1979 through 1983 in the Stone Oak Bluegrass Band. Stand-up bass player for the group, John Christensen, adds to the quartet's groove that is rounded out by the sultry vocals of Maggie Delaney-Potthoff, an enthralling performer who delivers both powerhouse tunes and ballads with confidence and ease. Maggie's Edith Piaf-like sound is often reminiscent of strains emanating from a Paris bistro in the 1920s.

"This is a band that's going places," said Todd Weiss, the group's publicist. "Wait until you hear and see the lead singer, Maggie Delaney-Potthoff, singing with her incredible, smoky, fabulous voice while playing her cardboard box drum with a set of brushes."

The evening's repertoire will consist of songs from their albums that include "Vintage Jazz," a re-release of the Wail's first recording, "Nonchalant," which they say contains "Gypsy Swing with killer vocals" and their current release, "Resist Temptation."

Even as the 20-year-old band continues to hone its particular style, each member's intense playing and sense of purpose never wavers.

"We put our souls on the line with every show and pour [them] out to the audience, Sims Delaney-Potthoff said. "It is definitely an uplifting, mind-altering experience."