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Belleville Outfit does it the old-fashioned way

Johnny D's, Somerville, Mass., July 21, 2010

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Belleville Outfit is doing it the old-fashioned way - but not necessarily the common way these days. They are touring. The Austin-based band rooted in Texas swing music, has been a heavy gigging work horse through the release of two CDs with forays into such foreign territory as New England.

Good thing, too, because not only do they seem to be building a fandom based on the decent crowd they drew mid-week in the summer, but Belleville Outfit has a lot of musical arrows in its quiver.

Country is part of the mix along with Texas swing (Hot Club of Cowtown is a most obvious reference point) along with blues and swampy sounds.

Belleville Outfit is blessed by having two lead vocalists - Rob Teter, who also plays acoustic guitar and Phoebe Hunt, also on fiddle. Teter assumed most of the lead vocals with Hunt often chipping in with backing harmonies to flesh out the sound. She also took over lead vocals on a bunch of songs and was more commanding as the evening wore on, particularly towards the close of the second set.

These guys also can play with guitarist Marshall Hood (he's the nephew of Champ) plucking away with short, sweet runs numerous times. Keyboard/piano player Connor Forsyth was key as well adding a lot of spice during the evening especially on the bluesy and swampy sounding songs. Drummer Jonathan Kanya established a steady beat throughout, easily working through the styles.

The ensemble cooked by the night's end with such songs as Wine, Wine, Fine Wine, along with Two Wings where Hunt really let loose vocally. Early on, the swinging, fast and lively Caroline was a particular standout.

Belleville Outfit has earned kudos for their albums. Deservedly so, and they also showed they can do it live. They closed with an energetic version of Get Back making you wish they'd return sooner than later.