Bakelite 78’s repertoire is an eclectic mix of swing, Dixieland, blues, proto-country, and cabaret, as well as a plethora of originals in hybrids of these styles. Founding member Robert Rial arrived in Chicago in 2000, eager to engage in the music he loved most: dance orchestra music/swing, country-blues, dixieland, tin pan alley, rock and American folk. He played his guitar and tenor banjo and took solace in his 78 R.P.M. records (some discs were made from an early form of plastic similar to Bakelite). “Bakelite 78’s” preserved the music of the early 20th Century, and the band was born to keep classic crooner vocals & speak-easy jazz/lounge/cabaret alive. The original lineup of Bakelite 78 performed throughout Chicago from 2003 to 2008. The group released their acclaimed debut “It’s A Sin” in 2006, and followed up in 2008 with “Delta Disc”, (produced in Mississippi by Jimbo Mathus, and partially funded by a City Of Chicago Department Of Cultural Affairs’ generous Community Arts Assistance Program Grant). Bakelite 78 appeared throughout Chicago at The Hideout, The Old Town School Of Folk Music, The Famous “Hiawatha” Pizza Lounge, Bad Dog Tavern, The Beat Kitchen, The California Clipper, The Candlelite, The Charleston, The Taste Of Lincoln Avenue, The Bucktown Arts Festival and more.
In 2009, Robert departed for Seattle and Bakelite 78 was rebuilt. Robert sought multi-instrumentalists that preserved and expanded the essence of the group’s original sound. The new lineup of musicians includes Robert Rial on tenor banjo, six string, tenor guitar and voice, Austin Quist on upright bass, Erik Reed on trumpet, Sabrina Pope on clarinet, and Steven Baz on drums. Within a couple months, the new line-up began performing original compositions (by Rial, Jordan, & Quist), classic standards and rare gems. The group has performed all around Seattle, including at The Moore Theatre(during the finale of The 1st Annual Seattle International Cabaret Festival), The Can Can, The Triple Door, The Crocodile, The Fun House, The Pink Door, The Josephine, The Seattle Tattoo Expo, Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle Hempfest and more. Bakelite 78 has their album, What The Moon Has Done, now available on CDBABY or Itunes. The band is currently finishing the followup, to be released in early spring, 2016.