Jaw Harp Potential Keeps it Classy

Few high school bands can claim to have a master harpist, a distinguished accordionist, and a renowned vocalist and tambourine player. Jaw Harp Potential, formed earlier this year by juniors Iris Brenner, Melissa Jones, and Charlotte Mann, is working hard to earn the three adjectives listed above. The group, which now writes original music in addition to covering indie folk artists, played in the Maximum Ames Music Festival on September 22. Brenner, Jones, and Mann answered the Web’s most pressing questions about music, fame, and women.

Q: How did you come up with your name?

Jones: We came up with our name when we were in Boston with the (Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames) in the summer of 2009. We bought jaw harps (small mouth instruments with a movable reed attached to a metal frame) there. I’m pretty sure I came up with the name, but Iris also claims she did. I guess we’€™ll never know. It works well now, since we don’€™t actually play jaw harps anymore. All that’€™s left is the potential.

Q: What does each person contribute to Jaw Harp Potential?

Jones: Charlotte holds everything together because she plays the harp so well. We wouldn’€™t be a band without her.

Brenner: Charlotte and I write lyrics first and then add a melody. We don’€™t do anything too complex, usually just a few chords.

Mann: We have the harp and the accordion (played by Brenner) and the tambourine (played by Jones, who also sings). We stay away from generic high school rock. We don’€™t want to be known as a cute girl band. If we write a cute melody, we pair it with mean lyrics.

Q: How did your Maximum Ames gig at the Space compare with your past gigs, which included playing several times at the UU and at the Second Annual Ames High Harp Donor Benefit Concert?

Jones: We had a lot more freedom with our songs and we let loose a little more. We also debuted three original songs in addition to two covers (of Fleet Foxes and Wolf Parade).

Brenner: Mann: It was so many fun. We couldn’€™t even.

Q: What is the best part about being in Jaw Harp Potential?

Brenner: All the fame.

Mann: And the women.

Brenner: The fame and the women.