With a tight, seamless, and an acoustic sound that's uniquely their's - a mix of gypsy swing, big band jazz and cross-genre Americana music, original songs and some clever covers - the startling six-piece Belleville Outfit of Austin belies the tender age of its members and its vast experience garnered swiftly after its union around Merlefest 2007 in Wilkesboro, N.C.
In fact, in just six months, the band has played for more than 10,000 people, ridden in a van-with-trailer to shows all the way from Texas to Tennessee, from Colorado to New York, and sold out shows up and down the East Coast and through Texas. They've shared stages with the likes of Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Del McCoury Band, The Waybacks, and The Duhks, and recorded a full-length album with producers John Rees and Bil Vorndick. When the band is home, members soak up other acts' music, absorbing how music transmits energy from musician to listener, healing both - always learning, learning from the past but breathing their own interpretations into what they hear.
The Belleville Outfit came together when The DesChamps Band of Spartanburg, S.C., was offered a slot at Merlefest 2007. The former band of singer-songwriter-guitarist Rob Teter was no more, so he got former band-mate, singer-guitarist Marshall Hood, and vocalist-violinist Phoebe Hunt (who's won Daniel Pearl Foundation honors) to New Orleans to meet drummer Jonathan Konya, pianist Connor Forsyth and upright bass player Jeff Brown. After two days of marathon rehearsals, the band was ready for its first shows together - complete with a sound that mixes members' Appalachian roots and the traditional jazz of New Orleans, American swing, blues, country, soul and gypsy music.
Teter, Forsyth and Konya had been studying music at Loyola New Orleans for two years, and Hunt had earned a degree in history at the University of Texas at Austin while playing in a local folk trio, The Hudsons and learning to play the fiddle. Brown, a member of The DesChamps Band, had joined the military. Hood was playing gigs for Austin's Toni Price and Warren Hood and the Hoodlums. But after Merlefest, they each decided to give the band their all. Its name ("belle ville" means beautiful town in French) honors New Orleans and the dramatic influence Hurricane Katrina had on the city and the Loyola trio. And "Belleville" is also Django Reinhardt song, which exemplifies a great portion of its sound.
The band's debut album, WANDERIN', was released on Feb. 5, 2008.
The Belleville Outfit is a cross-genre American folk band based out of Austin, Texas. Their sound has been described as "a mix of gypsy swing, big band jazz and cross-genre Americana music". In May 2007, after three days of practice, they performed their first gig at MerleFest in North Wilkesboro, NC. Three of the members-Rob Teter, Marshall Hood and Jeff Brown-are from Spartanburg, SC, and had performed as the DesChamps Band since they were in high school. Additional band members were recruited through connections Rob had made while studying music business at Loyola University. Fellow students Jonathan Konya and Connor Forsyth left New Orleans for Austin to join the band that was to become The Belleville Outfit. The final addition was Austin's darling, Phoebe Hunt, who had been playing with the folk band The Hudsons out of Austin for four years.
After releasing Wanderin' in February 2008 and Time to Stand in May 2009, the band was nominated for "best new and emerging artist" by the Americana Music Association.