Local band brings jazz revival to Boone

Matthew Chapman

In the High Country, music is abundant. Bluegrass, Americana and alternative rock play proudly while walking down King Street. One local band is looking to provide a fresh taste in Boone’s music scene.

Belleville Rendezvous is composed of Kim France, Lauren Hayworth and Andy Page. They are all local musicians who have been performing for years, all adding different musical skills and backgrounds to the band.

The band has been playing and has known each other for a decade but officially formed three years ago. They are a “multi-instrumental trio featuring a mix of jazz standards,” according to Belleville Rendezvous’ Facebook page

“Music is unique. When everyone is together, it creates diversity and allows for openness,” Hayworth said.

Belleville Rendezvous perform classic jazz pieces as well as songs from other genres with their own jazz twist on them.

The band’s repertoire spans over a century of music, often putting their own spin on different jazz pieces from the likes of Duke Ellington to ‘70s rock like Fleetwood Mac, as well as multiple original arrangements. 

“A lot of people’s interpretation of jazz isn’t what it used to be. The jazz genre has suffered in the past years because of shortened attention spans and the need for visual stimulation,” Page said. 

Belleville Rendezvous is trying to combat this loss of interest in jazz by re-working the genre.

While the band performs mainly jazz pieces or songs with their own jazzy spin, they are not limited to this genre. Page has a musical performance degree in classical guitar and has played rock, blues and metal in the past. Hayworth studied classical vocals. France not only plays in Belleville Rendezvous but also in the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra

The various musical backgrounds of the artists allow for a tasteful spin on the songs they create. 

“With Belleville Rendezvous, I really like the quality of my partners’ voices. It makes me happy to be making music,” Page said.

France came to Boone in 1999 to be in local band Boss Hawg. She later enrolled at App State and was part of the university’s Jazz Ensemble. 

Hayworth started her first year in 2006 as a classical music student. 

Page started his musical journey as a music student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and then the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He now teaches at App State in the Hayes School of Music. France and Hayworth met not long after Hayworth had moved into town.

 Page arrived in Boone between cruise ship performance contracts and touring with the Broadway show, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” where he performed in 41 states over the course of six months. 

He was initially here to play music, but after making some connections, he received a job offer at the university. He now serves as a senior lecturer. 

“I learn a lot from the gigs and try to pass on real life musical experiences and challenges to my students so that they can prepare for those situations in the future,” Page said. 

Page said the most challenging part of having two careers is that he struggles with “work and life balance and the time commitment away from family.”

The band’s name comes from a 2003 film titled “The Triplets of Belleville.” Belleville is a neighborhood located in Paris and the film features a jazz score, the same genre Belleville Rendezvous plays the most. 

Their first gig was at the Turchin Center, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

“It was difficult socially, spiritually and creatively,” France said. 

Locally and worldwide, live music has become more prevalent since venues have opened back up. Though, not as big as the band thinks it should be.

“Music is different now because of YouTube and social media,” Page said. 

As a result, the live music scene in Boone is no longer as large as it once was. 

The band named venues such as The Beacon, where they have been playing every Tuesday for a year, Lost Province Brewing Company and Casa Rustica as places that they think do exceptionally well booking live music. 

Current director of jazz studies and professor for 32 years, Todd Wright, has played with Page for many years. 

“I met Andy around 20 years ago, maybe a little more than 20 years. He and his twin brother, Zack, introduced themselves to me because they were upcoming jazz artists,” Wright said.

Since then they have not only worked together as fellow educators but as fellow musicians as well. 

“We have played I want to say thousands, but hundreds of private shows over the years. It started when the pianist I used moved away from town so I invited Andy to play the guitar because guitar and piano do pretty much the same thing,” Wright said.

The band said they love what they do, and that they play because they “can’t imagine not playing,” Hayworth said. For France, music continually brings joy into her life. 

“I could be tired, and as soon as I start playing, I feel better,” France said.

Every member spoke fondly about music and the unity they believe it creates while performing.

“When you’re in the moment, working together, the sum is greater than the parts,” Hayworth said.

Belleville Rendezvous plays at The Beacon every Tuesday from 6 – 8 p.m. The Beacon is their “most consistent” venue and has been for a year, Page said. Many staff members there enjoy the band and their music.

“I personally love how friendly they are to new and returning listeners,” said Rachel Fern, an employee at The Beacon.

The musical talents of the band have not gone unnoticed by the staff either.

“They are incredibly talented musicians with hearts of gold and sounds to match,” said Sarah Hill, a bartender at The Beacon. “Andy’s plucking has jazz, blues and Spanish influences to create a balanced mood which is accented by Lauren’s soft vocals and accordion playing, and Kim’s smooth basslines and harmonies.”

The band has more shows coming up soon including The Beacon every Tuesday from 6 – 8 p.m. as well as playing at Blowing Rock Park on Oct. 2. France will be performing with The Johnson City Orchestra Oct. 8. For other updates, visit their Facebook page.