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Harmonious Wail Gets Students Dancing in Their Seats

Click, click, click… In no time every finger was snapping in Phelps Stokes auditorium to the sounds of "Harmonious Wail" on stage. It took no more than a couple beats on "Captain Morgan's box" to enrapture the audience's attention. All across the room, the bobbing heads soon turned into tapping feet and eventually the audience was dancing in their seats.

Harmonious Wail jazzes up the convo

"Harmonious Wail" introduced Berea College to gypsy swing music on April 7 at convocation. They were received with yells and whistles and didn't leave without a standing ovation. The group from Madison, Wisconsin was a three man band and a vivacious woman, each with a unique musical talent. Perhaps the most interesting of the instruments is "Captain Morgan's box." It is simply a cardboard "Rum Specialty" box played as a drum with brushes, each beat like the pounding of the heart. Every note from the cello, tenor guitar, mandolin and drum burst with energy.

As if Sims Delaney-Potthoff, the founder of the group, was lost in another world of music he plucked the mandolin to the melodious gypsy-jazz music. With vigor in her voice and a brush in hand Maggie Delaney-Potthoff beat on Captian Morgan's box. The cellist, John Mesoloras, closed his eyes and let himself get swept up into the music. With each strum on his gypsy guitar, Tom Waselchuk, added a sense of dynamism.

The convocation was rated very high by students with a 4.16 on a five point scale. On the back of comment cards students expressed that their approval of the group. "I wasn’t even ready for intermission and it was already over," said Vivian Cameron, junior.

"Wow! What an electrically charged group of musicians," said Janet Garrison, senior. "The energetic vibe was mesmerizing."

"Harmonious Wail" blends the melodies of Eastern European gypsy swing, American jazz standards, and contemporary folk music together to create their own flair. Over the past 18 years that the group has been together they have produced four albums including: Airborne, Gypsy Swing, Live at ZMF, Nonchalant.

For more information check out their website:

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