Archive for the Belleville Outfit Category

Americana Music Awards Nominees ’09: New & Emerging Artist

Posted in Americana Music Awards 09, Band of Heathens, Belleville Outfit, Justin Townes Earle, Sarah Borges on August 21, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Well… It’s that time of year again.

The 2009 Americana Music Association’s Awards and Honors Show will be held September 17 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The event is part of the Americana Music Festival and Conference taking place September 16tn – 19th in Nashville.

As I did last year… I’ll be taking a look at most of the awards categories and trying to handicap the field. We start today with the nominees for “Best New & Emerging Artist.”

First up is a songwriting collective from Austin, TX called The Band of Heathens. The Heathens got their start a few years back when songwriters Colin Brooks, Gordy Quist, and Ed Jurdi were all holding down regular weekly slots at Momo’s Club in Austin. Eventually, the three solo acts started playing together along with a rhythm section of John Chipman on drums and Seth Whitney on bass. As the story goes… a local music writer referred to the collective as “That Band of Heathens” and a legend was born.

The band’s self-titled studio album was released last year and instantly started climbing the Americana Album Airplay charts. In fact, it became just the second self released album to hit the top of that chart (Hayes Carll’s Little Rock). Produced by Austin luminary Ray Wylie Hubbard and featuring appearances by Hubbard, Patty Griffin, Gurf Morlix, and the late Stephen Bruton… their debut effort features country rock grooves to boost their solid songwriting. “Jackson Station” is as good as anything else I heard over the past year.

Band of Heathens: Jackson Station (Buy Album)

The second nominee is another young group based out of the Americana Mecca that is Austin, TX. Though they call Austin their home now, the roots of The Belleville Outfit actually lie in South Carolina where band members Marshall Hood, Rob Teter, and Jeff Brown were in a band called The DesChamps band during their high school years. The three reconnected in Austin a few years later and started recruiting players for a gig they booked at Merlefest. Enter Jonathan Konya and Connor Forsyth from New Orleans and Phoebe Hunt from Austin to complete the sextet.

The Belleville Outfit’s debut album Wanderin’ came out in February of 2008 with a follow up called Time to Stand coming out earlier this year in May. Both albums draw from a wide range of influences to create a sound that is based in Western Swing but also swings out to cover styles as diverse as jazz, traditional folk, cajun zydeco, and just about anything else you’ve ever wrapped your ears around. Here’s the title track from their debut album.

The Belleville Outfit: Wandrin’ (Buy Album)

For our third nominee, we leave Texas and head to Boston for Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles. Sarah is probably my favorite artist among the nominees and someone who I’ve followed for a few years now. She first got on stage as an actress and majored in musical theatre at Emerson College, a small private school in Boston. Eventually, Sarah formed a band and was signed to the Blue Corn Music label after a successful showcase at the SXSW festival.

Sarah has released three albums since then… 2005’s Silver City, 2007’s Diamonds in the Dark, and 2009’s The Stars are Out… the latter two for Sugar Hill. At it’s core, her music houses a strong rock and roll spirit with obvious flourishes of country soul mixed in for good measure. Her latest album was a little less country and a little more rock and roll. It’s a bit of a new direction for a talented performer and songwriter who figures to be around for a while. It’s nice to see her finally get some attention from the Americana voters.

Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles: Me and Your Ghost (Buy Album)

Which brings me to the final nominee this year and the only returning nominee in this category. How someone can be nominated for “Best New Artist” two years in a row… I’ll never know. Here’s part what I wrote about Justin Townes Earle last year.

“Justin Townes Earle is the son of Steve Earle and is named for Townes Van Zandt. That’s not too much to live up to is it? Justin understandably developed a love for music and was playing in a couple of bands in Nashville by the time he was a teenager. He also spent some time playing in his father’s touring band, The Dukes, but was kicked out of the group due a growing dependence on alcohol and drugs… …[Now] clean and sober, Justin self-released the EP Yuma in 2007. His debut album The Good Life followed in 2008.”

Earle returned in March of this year with Midnight at the Movies, another strong effort that, once again, showcases his skills as a songwriter (even if my favorite song on the album is a Replacements cover), and proves that he can stand on his own outside the shadows of his namesake and famous father. His recent inclusion on the Big Surprise Tour with The Old Crow Medicine Show has only broadened his exposure and helped solidify his status as an artist to watch in the future.
Justin Townes Earle: Can’t Hardly Wait (Buy Album)
So those are the nominees for “Best New & Emerging Artist.” I put a poll up yesterday for you to vote on your favorite. We’ll find out the real winner September 17th.
As for how I would handicap this year’s race… I think JTE will be tough to beat. In addition to his nomination here, he’s also up for “Artist of the Year” and “Album of the Year.” My vote (if I had one) would probably go to Sarah Borges because she’s been a favorite of mine for some time, but her latest album is probably the least “Americana” of her catalogue. The Belleville Outfit have the most unique sound and are probably the most innovative of the group. The Band of Heathens had the best “debut” album during the nominating period and would probably be a shoo in if not for the word “Emerging” in the name of the award.
My Vote (If I had one): Sarah Borges
My Prediction: Justin Townes Earle

Wonderful Musical Weekend in Knoxville

Posted in Belleville Outfit, Ben Sollee, Paul Thorn on May 22, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Yesterday, I told you that there is some great live music that’s coming to Knoxville this weekend. Now I need to tell you exactly who is going to be here and when.

The Belleville Outfit kicks off a great weekend on Friday afternoon (today) with an appearance on WDVX’s Blue Plate Special live from The Square Room at noon. The Belleville Outfit is a six piece group from Austin who are certainly no strangers to us here in East Tennessee. They’ve already played in Knoxville several times including an appearance at Tennessee Shines last September. Their new album, Time to Stand, was even mastered right here in Knoxville.

This is a great emerging group* with influences ranging from jazz to bluegrass to swing with a lot of other stuff mixed in for good measure. The group likes to say the only music that hasn’t influenced them is the music they haven’t heard yet.

If you haven’t heard The Belleville Outfit yet… tune in to Friday at noon (EST) for their appearance on the Blue Plate Special. I’m sure you’ll get to hear a few new tracks from Time to Stand… like this one…

The Belleville Outfit: Sunday Morning (Buy Album)

*According to their website, The Belleville Outfit have been nominated for Best New/Emerging artist at this year’s Americana Music Awards along with Justin Townes Earle, Sarah Borges, and The Band of Heathens. You can find the full list of nominees here. I can also promise you that I will be giving you an in depth look at all of the nominees between now and the award show in September… just like I did last year.

Friday night, Ben Sollee returns to Knoxville and The Square Room for what is sure to be an intimate evening of music. Sollee is a cellist from Kentucky who gained some attention by playing with Otis Taylor and Abigail Washburn before breaking out to record his debut album Learning to Bend. On it, Sollee challenges the boundaries of his chosen instrument as he explores genres from country to folk to gentle jazz. He held a sold out crowd at The Bijou Theatre in rapt attention during a recent appearance on Tennessee Shines and promises to do the same Friday night at The Square Room.

Ben Sollee: A Few Honest Words (Buy Album)

It’s The Square Room again on Saturday night for a performance from Paul Thorn. Thorn has been a favorite of mine since my days at Morehead State Public Radio where I was first introduced to his music when he performed at one of our Americana Crossroads Live shows.

Thorn is the son of a Pentecostal Preacher who was born and raised in Tupelo, Mississippi and spent several years as a professional boxer (he once fought Roberto Duran in a nationally televised fight). All of those influences can be found in his music. Thorn’s sound bears the mark of the distinctly southern styles of gospel and blues while carrying a hard worn edge he earned during his years in the ring. It combines to create an authentic swamp of southern soul drenched in the Mississippi mud.

Paul Thorn: Downtown Babylon (Buy Album)

Unfortunately, life and work will conspire to keep me away from most of these shows… but I do plan on catching Those Darlins Saturday night. Hopefully all of you can get out and catch something live this weekend.