The Belleville Outfit
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The Belleville Outfit

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"Critics Picks"

Because this young Austin six-piece occasionally jumps through old-time American swing and string-band jazz—even their name comes from an old Django Reinhardt tune—they occasionally get compared to the Squirrel Nut Zippers or fellow Austin combo Asylum Street Spankers. But their instrumental virtuosity, tricky arrangements and sophisticated songwriting touch moves their music beyond fun revivalism. In truth, their forebears are bands like Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and another Austin outfit, Uncle Walt’s Band, which featured the father of Belleville’s lead guitarist Warren Hood. With Rob Teter occasionally giving over lead vocals to fiddler Phoebe Hunt, the band doesn’t stay in one place or within one genre for very long. Their debut album, Wanderin’, suggests they’re capable of heading in most any direction they - Nashville Scene - Nashville Scene

"This outfit is new"

Young band finds itself wanderin' the fast track


The Belleville Outfit - Jeff Brown, left, Jonathan Konya, Rob Teter, Phoebe Hunt, Connor Forysyth and Marshall Hoood - came together last spring and has been busy since with gigs and putting out its first album. Photo by George Brainard

When Phoebe Hunt marked the day on her calendar, she thought she was simply noting another gig in another city.

To a degree, she was used to that. An industrious Austin, Texas, violinist, Hunt studied for two years at Mark O'Connor's prestigious fiddle camp and was a recipient of the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin Award. Then, after switching studies at the University of Texas from business to history with a minor in Spanish, she immersed herself as a performer in Austin's vast live music scene.

But the concert at hand suggested an adventure. It began with a call from two Austin pals, singer-songwriter-guitarist Rob Teter and guitarist Marshall Hood. Then it entailed a drive to New Orleans to meet with bassist Jeff Brown, who had played with Teter and Hood in the now defunct DesChamps Band; pianist Connor Forsyth and drummer Jonathan Konya.

The April 2007 performance was at a festival in yet another city. So after two days of intense rehearsals and a resulting sound that began to mirror the Gypsy-flavored jazz and string-fueled swing of decades past, it was on to Wilkesboro, N.C.

Here's where the story gets a little intense. The players weren't headed for some casual bluegrass or roots-music festival. Hunt and her friends found themselves at MerleFest, one of the largest and most respected Americana music gatherings in North America. Among the acts with which they would be sharing the bill: Elvis Costello, Alison Krauss, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Hammond, BŽla Fleck, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, and the roots music giant who was the inspiration for the 20-year-old festival, Doc Watson.

And instead of skipping into such extraordinary company as a long-running ensemble, Hunt and company -- who had dubbed themselves The Belleville Outfit -- were playing their very first gig after two days of rehearsal.

Now that's what you call a band entrance.

"I think Rob had originally been offered the gig," Hunt said. "He couldn't say no. But it was also a case of, 'Yes, ma'am. I have a band.' And then he started calling everyone. I didn't really know about MerleFest. I was like, 'Yeah, I'll do the gig,' and just wrote it on my calendar."

The mix of jazz, country, blues, New Orleans soul and hot swing music seemed to flow readily at MerleFest for The Belleville Outfit (Belleville is French for "beautiful town," but it also is the title of a tune by Gypsy swing guitar legend Django Reinhardt that is part of the Outfit's repertoire). But then the inevitable question arose: "Now what?"

"That's when we had to make a decision," Hunt said. "I mean, the band had come together so quickly. The decision we faced was, 'Are we gong to keep doing this? That's when everyone decided to change their whole lives."

That meant the Outfit's New Orleans delegation gave up school (for now, at least) and moved to Austin. That meant the band hit the road for the sort of woodshedding touring experience that young acts have to endure to establish a band sound, a group spirit and a devout fan base.

The Belleville Outfit already has accomplished the latter in Lexington through shows at Natasha's Bistro, where it will play again Tuesday. Now comes the next phase, a hearty indie debut album called Wanderin' that was released two weeks ago.

The music is an appealing sampler of Teter tunes that run from animated swing (Caroline) to leisurely country strolls (Ease My Mind) to Western-tinged blues (Been Here Before). Rounding out the recording are a pair of songs by the late Austin songsmith Walter Hyatt (including a version of Wonder Why that mixes tropical atmospherics, a mighty New Orleans rumble and Hunt's assertive singing) and the dizzying fiddle swing of the 1946 Peggy Lee hit It's a Good Day.

The latter could almost be a theme song for The Belleville Outfit. Its music has a pronounced drive, yet the feel is light. It might flirt with the blues, but the resulting attitude is seldom less than exuberant. And it hints at swing, country and jazz sounds from the '40s and early '50s, but nothing of Wanderin' sounds like a museum piece.

"This is fun music," Hunt said. "Playing it at shows and making people happy, that's what keeps us going. It makes you feel like what you're doing matters."

The Belleville Outfit
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 19.

Where: Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade.

Cover charge: $10.

Call: (859) 259-2754.

Online:, - Lexington Herald-Leader

"Young Belleville Outfit gaining good experience"

Published: January 17, 2008 10:55 am

Young Belleville Outfit gaining good experience
Staff Reports

In six months, the Austin-based Belleville Outfit has played for more than 10,000 people, traveled from Texas to Nashville to the Carolinas and sold out shows along the East Coast.

The young band that crosses genres from Americana roots to big band jazz, seems to be getting into the swing of things early.

The Belleville Outfit will have a CD Release show at 4 p.m. Jan. 27 at Gruene Hall. The band’s first album, Wanderin, is due out in stores on Feb. 5.

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-guitarist Marshall Hood (of the famous Hood family) and singer-songwriter-guitarist Rob Teter was no more, so Teter got 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. - San Marcos Daily Record 1/17/08

"Belleville Outfit releases Wanderin’"

By Jeff Eason

The Belleville Outfit’s Phoebe Hunt and Marshall Hood on the Americana Stage at MerleFest 2007. Photo by Jeff Eason

One of the bands that made the biggest splash at last year’s Merle Watson Festival was the young sextet the Belleville Outfit. The band was put together the week before the festival and, after two marathon rehearsals, wowed audiences on the Americana and Hillside stages.

Many miles and many live shows later the Belleville Outfit is ready to go nationwide. This month will see the release of the band’s debut studio album, Wanderin’. The album captures the band’s youthful exuberance while exploring a variety of musical elements such as old swing jazz, country, blues, Americana and pop. Along the way the band is defining its musical territory as being somewhere between New Orleans and Austin (two hometowns of the band’s six members).

The Belleville Outfit includes Rob Teter on guitar, lead and harmony vocals, Phoebe Hunt on violin, lead and harmony vocals, Jonathan Konya on drums, Connor Forsyth on piano and organ, Jeff Brown on upright acoustic bass, and Marshall Hood on lead guitar and harmony vocals.

Considering that all of the members of the band are in their early twenties, the sextet brings an amazing wealth of musical experience to the stage as The Belleville Outfit. When Teter and Hood’s former group, The DesChamps Band of Spartanburg, S.C., was offered a slot at MerleFest 2007, the duo recruited the rest of the musicians for the gig and named the band “Belleville” after the Django Rheinhart song of the same name.
In the months after MerleFest, The Belleville Outfit has performed for over 10,000 people and has shared the stage with the Del McCurry Band, the Waybacks, Mark O’Connor and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Wanderin’ was recorded at Ocean Way Studios and Warm Front Studios in Nashville with help from musical titans Bil Vorndick and John Rees.

Teter sings the lead on most of the songs on Wanderin’ and he brings a cool Cajun croon to the microphone, reminiscent of the Red Stick Ramblers’ Linzay Young.

Hunt’s sassy jazzy vocal delivery is perfect when she takes the lead vocals on songs such as “Wonder Why” and “Warm Summer’s Evening.” A duel threat on vocals and violin (she’s won Daniel Pearl Foundation honors on the instrument), Hunt shifts into high gear on the swing standard “It’s a Good Day” as she belts out the lyrics then tears up the strings with a fantastic lead.

All of the instrumental performances are fabulous and many feature synchronized lead work between violin, guitar and piano. Lyrically, Wanderin’ is a close cousin of the Avett Brothers’ latest album Emotionalism in that it features young Americana stars unafraid to sing some love songs.

Eileen McClelland of The Houston Chronicle noted, “The Belleville Outfit takes pieces of gypsy swing, classic jazz, big band and Americana and stitches them together into an improvisational quilt of musical idiosyncrasy. Somehow it all makes sense in the capable hands of this young band whose members draw on influences as diverse as their hometowns.”

While Wanderin’ doesn’t quite capture the intensity and instrumental improvisation of a Belleville Outfit live show, it is evidence of what this wonderfully talented young band can accomplish in the recording studio. The Belleville Outfit’s new album will come to a record store near you starting February 5, 2008. To find out more about the band, visit - Mountain Times 1/11/08

"CD Review"

Rising from the ashes of the defunct DesChamps Band to fulfill a commitment, the Belleville Outfit played its first gig at the prestigious MerleFest in 2007. Its blend of jazz, Americana and gypsy swing was an instant hit, leading to a full-time commitment from the players, and ultimately, studio time. Since settling in Austin, Texas, the band has taken a unique form that's impressive in its maturity and style.

The debut album Wanderin' captures the rich musical heritage of the Outfit's influences, coming across with skill and confidence that often eludes such a young group. The album kicks off with a little twang on "Somebody Like You," then jumps to the Django-esque "Caroline." Vocalist Rob Teter shares the microphone with the lovely voice of violinist Phoebe Hunt, and the gentle lead acoustic-guitar work of Marshall Hood complements both of them quite well. 4 stars

The Belleville Outfit performs at Eddie's Attic Fri., Feb. 8. - Atlanta's Creative Loafing

"the Belleville Outfit Wanderin', Austin Chronicle"

Texas Platters

the Belleville Outfit

Every couple of years, a group of acoustic musicians hits Austin and wins over an audience hungry for an eclectic musical mix. Like the Greencards and Hot Club of Cowtown before them, the Belleville Outfit possesses seemingly unlimited potential and youthful musical chops to awe the most jaded ears. Formed from the ashes of the DesChamps Band of Spartanburg, S.C., Outfit is led by guitarist Marshall Hood and singer-songwriter and guitarist Rob Teter. Their secret weapon is fiddle player Phoebe Hunt, whose spunky vocal turns make their sound unique. With "belle ville" being French for "beautiful town," the now local trio claims their name is a nod to New Orleans, the town where they all first met. It's appropriate then that they swing from jazz to new grass, taking on a broad swath of American music with obvious glee. Add a couple of lovingly done Walter Hyatt covers, and the Belleville Outfit has crafted a captivating debut.

*** - Austin Chronicle

"The Belleville Outfit"

The Belleville Outfit
The Berkeley Cafe—Like the Austin cousin of our Zippers and The Old Ceremony, The Belleville Outfit mixes old-fashioned gypsy rag and jazz with bluegrass bustle and dulcet boy-girl harmonies. Violinist Phoebe Hunt's sultry alto colors guitarist Rob Teter's high, reedy tenor like a ribbon of caramel, while Connor Forsyth's high-spirited piano keys the sextet's hip-swinging caper. Their nimble American roots blend was definitely brewed with a big block of Big Easy in the filter. Pay $8 at 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker - The Independent Weekly

"The Houston Chronicle 8/29/07"

Belleville Outfit gets into the swing

Traveling around the country in a van with five college-age guys who call her "Grandma," fiddler Phoebe Hunt, 23, is living her dream.

It's not about the van or the road, the nickname, or even the guys in the band, really, nice as they've been. It's about the music.

The Belleville Outfit takes pieces of gypsy swing, classic jazz, big band and Americana and stitches them together into an improvisational quilt of musical idiosyncrasy. Somehow it all makes sense in the capable hands of this young band whose members draw on influences as diverse as their hometowns.

Their heroes include everyone from Peggy Lee to Lynyrd Skynyrd, but common denominators include the likes of Ray Charles.

The Belleville Outfit, just a year old, had a complicated birthing process, says newest member Hunt. It might be called six degrees of Rob Teter.

Teter (singer-songwriter/guitarist), Marshall Hood (guitar and vocals) and Jeff Brown (upright bass) had played together since they were sixth-graders in Spartanburg, S.C. As teenagers, they formed the popular swing/bluegrass group, the DesChamps Band, before Teter left to attend Loyola University music school in New Orleans.

(If three words in the previous paragraph — hint: Hood, DesChamps and Spartanburg — sound familiar, it's because Hood is the nephew of the late Champ Hood, beloved player in the South Carolina-via-Austin ensemble Uncle Walt's Band.)

At Loyola, Teter met drummer Jonathan Konya of Norwalk, Conn., and pianist Connor Forsyth of Tulsa, Okla.

Meanwhile, Hood had moved to Austin and met Hunt, formerly of the folk group the Hudsons.

When Hunt eventually met all of the guys in Austin, something clicked. Somehow, Appalachian bluegrass, New Orleans jazz and Austin folk longed to merge. The New Orleans-based guys decided to follow her home.

"They took a year off Loyola and are moving to Austin, which is pretty crazy," Hunt said. "They're willing to do it because we found this connection. And plus, what better city to live in if you want to be a musician?"

They call her grandma because they are all even younger than she. But although their youth may seem remarkable given their instrumental and songwriting prowess, they started garnering experience early. Hood began playing in third grade. Hunt was 6 when she first studied classical violin.

While with swing/bluegrass DesChamp Band, Teter, Hood and Brown had shared stages with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Junior Brown, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Del McCoury Band, the Duhks, Mark O'Connor, the Waybacks and Ellis Marsalis.

The Belleville Outfit decided to start touring the South this year, but transportation was a concern.

"We had all these gigs, and it was a big problem until very recently. How were we going to drive to these gigs? We didn't know," Hunt confessed.

They started off in two cars, the upright bass strapped to the top of one of them.

Then a fan in North Carolina came to their rescue with a Ford Econoline van, Hunt says.

"He said, 'Y'all need this van sitting outside my house?' He just gave us the van; he gave us the title. He said, 'Do what you're doing. Follow your dreams. Take this van.'

"Now we've got this nice van, and we're pulling a trailer with the drums and the piano and the bass like a real band." She pauses, and repeats, almost incredulously, "As if we're actually a real band."

Anyone who listens to cuts from their EP surely will affirm the band's authenticity. Caroline and Tell Her For Me When I'm Gone are ambitious odes to gypsy swing, while Wanderin' revels in Appalachian bluegrass. It's all original music save for an upbeat cover of Peggy Lee's It's a Good Day, sung breezily by Hunt.

In April, the Belleville Outfit joined a lineup of artists including Elvis Costello and Alison Krauss at Merlefest, an annual music festival in Wilkesboro, N.C. In the spring, the group sold out shows up and down the East Coast. And after a brief summer break, they are back on tour full swing.

They're also trying to find time to finish a first, full-length record.

"We've done about half of it, but we want to re-record it, make it more professional," Hunt says. "People in the Carolinas really want it (the CD). People in Austin can probably wait awhile. They don't know us yet."

But Hunt is known in Texas for her work with the Hudsons, recently voted best folk group at the Austin Music Awards. And the Belleville Outfit will head for Austin, Gruene Hall and Kerrville after the Houston show, no doubt leaving new converts in their wake. Maybe a little mystified, but true believers, just like the band.

Hunt, still trying to sort it all out, describes the music as singer-songwriter meets swing.

"I fell in love with the kind of music we play. It's swing, big bandy, original country. Everyone in the band ends up being part of the songwriting process. It's really inventive."

"I love Peggy Lee, Dinah Washington. Ra - EILEEN McCLELLAND

"Get Out Amarillo"

Belleville Outfit A New Breed Of Music

The Belleville Outfit got its start with a hurried rush to piece together a band to play earlier this year at Merlefest in North Carolina. Pleased with the performance, the new band decided to keep the ball rolling.

The Austin-based band plays old-time jazz with a new twist.

"It's kind of a gypsy swing with fusions of our characters," bass player Jeff Brown said.

There's no formula for the band's sound, and while its members appreciate the old sounds, they aren't trying to replicate them.

"We're not from the '30s, so we have been influenced by Tool and Nirvana," said Phoebe Hunt , violin.

The meat and potatoes of the songs are largely written by Rob Teter , guitar, and Connor Forsyth , piano, while the entire band will work together on arrangement. Each performance finds a new life for each song, though.

"We try to make it tight and solidified and at the same time make it improvised," Hunt said.

The band's played about 50 shows since April, and took some time this summer to wrap up previous commitments. The Belleville Outfit will be in the recording studio in Tennessee before their show in Amarillo next week.

Brown said the band hopes to have an EP sometime this fall and a full length by the end of the year.

Hunt, 23, is the oldest in the group while Brown, Teter and Marshall Hood , guitar, have the most touring experience. Jonathan Konya on drums rounds out the six-piece act.

The band puts its youthful ambition to work with high energy shows and has the next year dedicated to touring, with plans to perform about 200 dates. The band aims to please with a mix of upbeat, light-hearted and serious tunes.

"It will definitely be fun, that's what we do," Hunt said. - Aaron Phillips


Debut Album Wanderin' (February 5, 2008)

Unreleased sample tracks are available on this site.



With a tight, seamless, acoustic sound — a mix of gypsy swing, big band jazz and cross-genre Americana roots music, original songs and 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 get to shows from Texas to Nashville and the Carolinas, sold out shows throughout Texas and along the East Coast, shared stages with the likes of Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Del McCoury Band, Mark O’Connor, and The Waybacks, 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-guitarist Marshall Hood (of the famous Hood family) and singer-songwriter-guitarist Rob Teter was no more, so Teter got 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 and business at Loyola for two years, and Hunt had earned a degree in history at the University of Texas at Austin while learning to play the fiddle in a local folk trio, The Hudsons. Brown, also a member of The DesChamps, had joined the military. Hood was playing gigs for Austin’s Toni Price and Warren Hood and the Hoodlums. But after Merlefest, 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 a Django Reinhardt song the band plays, which exemplifies a great portion of its sound.