Bakelite 78 was founded by old time music enthusiast Robert Rial.
Rial arrived in Chicago in 2000, eager to engage in the musical styles 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 this era and the band was born to keep classic crooner vocals and smokey-speak-easy jazz/lounge/cabaret alive.
The 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. 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 by Jimbo Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers.
In 2009, Robert departed for Seattle and Bakelite 78 went through a personnel change. 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, Erin Jordan on piano, accordion, and voice, Austin Quist on upright bass and sousaphone, Erik Reed on trumpet, Kevin Buster on clarinet and saxophone, and Steve Baz on drums. Within a couple months, the new line-up began performing original compositions (by Rial, Jordan, and 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 Fun House, The Pink Door, The High Dive, The Josephine, The Seattle Tattoo Expo, as well as a number of weddings and parties. Bakelite 78 has recently completed their new album, What The Moon Has Done, to be released soon.