One of the signs I look for in really good musicians is their ability to play to the audience, both the crowd that particular night as well as the nuances of a venue. The Belleville Outfit played Yoshi’s jazz club in San Francisco Monday night and became my poster child for just how to execute on that feat. The Outfit’s musical bent for country swing, big band numbers and some gypsy influence certainly lends itself to an old-school type of jazz club. But the members dialed it up to eleven for this show.
Led by the torch-singing style of lead singer and fiddler Phoebe Hunt, the group stayed firmly in the jazz vein, albeit with Americana and country ingredients, for the entire evening. Keyboardist Connor Forsyth played the club’s enormous grand piano with the enthusiasm of someone playing with their new Christmas gift for the first time. And lead guitarist Marshall Hood, while subtle, tossed in some pretty tasty licks when you least expected them.
The set selection, not surprisingly, leaned heavily toward the swing numbers they’re perhaps most known for, like Caroline and Nothing’s Too Good For My Baby. They mixed it up a little with the country soft shoe of Will This End In Tears. They also played a few covers including a Peggy Lee number and the bluesy Baby Bye Bye, which for the life of me I can’t figure out who wrote.
I’ve seen The Belleville Outfit play a couple of outdoor music festivals, and there’s no doubt they get the crowd up and going with their normal stage show. But if they come to your neck of the woods and play a small club, I highly recommend you get there and see the performance.
About the author: Support new music. Listen to a band or singer you've never heard of this week. I've been doing that for over 30 years.