- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Brooklyn-based Grizzly Bear is amped up about its current U.S. tour — particularly two consecutive dates early next week at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom, which sold out well in advance. The tour has a stop Sunday at the Black Cat in Northwest.

So far, the group’s been getting the big, boisterous reception an indie band would expect after receiving a coveted 8.7 Pitchfork rating for its latest offering, “Yellow House.”

The psychedelic folk-rockers’ first gig, however, was slightly more subdued. It went down several years back, when the group’s founder, Edward Droste (who began Grizzly as a solo undertaking), and two band mates jammed out at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn bar for a small crowd of a friends.

“I had never performed in front of people before,” the singer-guitarist says.

Fast-forward to present day, and the now-foursome (Mr. Droste, Christopher Bear, Daniel Rossen and Chris Taylor) is cruising the country in a Dodge van on its first American headlining tour. Before this, they were opening for raved-about indie rockers TV on the Radio.

“I just feel incredibly fortunate to be in the spot that we’re in and to be able to tour and all,” Mr. Droste says. “It’s very weird to think that it would happen to us. Our music isn’t super poppy or easy to digest immediately.”

The band’s popularity has been germinating since its first album, 2004’s “Horn of Plenty,” an atmospheric folk-rock experiment that consisted mostly of Mr. Droste’s tinkerings, as recorded in his Brooklyn bedroom.

Fittingly, when the musical team expanded and the vision evolved, Grizzly laid down its next record in a slightly bigger space: the Cape Cod home of Mr. Droste’s mom. (It’s yellow, by the way.)

“Yellow House” (released in September on Warp Records) is inhabited by dreamy layers of vocal harmony and plaintive instrumental melodies that dissolve and reform in new patterns, like salt air over the coastline. Its tracks balance Earth-bound acoustic instruments and futuristic electronic tones, providing a nice counterpoint — and a real mind trip for those unfamiliar with this unique sound.

The musicians have been wowed by critical and popular response to the disc, and while they might be eating up the attention online and onstage, they say they won’t change all their routines just because of a little stardom.

When it comes to their next album (expected as early as the fall), Mr. Droste explains that they’ll “record it in another house; it’s yet to be decided where that’ll happen.”

Grizzly roars at the Black Cat at 8 p.m. on Sunday, and shares a bill with the Papercuts and Beach House.

Jenny Mayo

DesBarados’ unique beat

Singer-songwriter Chris Berardo draws inspiration from the strange characters he meets while playing music in bars from Texas to New England.

“It’s all I’ve ever done,” he says.

He and his five band mates, calling themselves the DesBerardos, roll through the Washington region this weekend, stopping for an acoustic show at the Dogfish Head Ale House in Gaithersburg Saturday at 9:30 p.m. and at the Grog & Tankard in Northwest Washington on Sunday night (www.grogandtankard.com).

The band includes Mr. Berardo’s brother, Marc David Berardo, on guitar and vocals, who is slated to perform an opening set before the electrified version of the DesBerardos play at the Grog & Tankard. Other band members are Art Bauger on bass, Neal Thomas on keyboards and mandolin, Paulie Triff on drums and multi-instrumentalist Dick Neal on pedal steel, slide, resophonic and electric guitars, mandolin and banjo.

Playing mostly high-spirited, alcohol-fueled originals, Mr. Berardo and company, all hailing from Connecticut and New York, draw heavily from the 1970s California country-rock sounds of the Eagles and Jackson Browne. Their shows will highlight songs from the band’s just-released “Ignoring All the Warning Signs” CD.

“We’re a bar band at heart,” he admits.

Asked to classify his sound, Mr. Berardo,40, is not quite sure how to reply. “It’s Americana, roots rock,” he says. “When I was younger, they called it country rock. Rock music that was melodic.

“You’re not going to get rich toting a six-piece rock band around with you, that’s for sure,” he adds. “But none of us has had a real job since high school.”

“Warning Signs” is Mr. Berardo’s third CD his second on the Lamon Records label out of Monroe, N.C. His first disc was self-produced in 1997.

Mr. Berardo, who plays harmonica, has opened for such headliners as NRBQ, Dickie Betts, Marshall Tucker Band, Little Feat, Molly Hatchet and Badfinger.

“We’re not in the mainstream, but the Americana stations, those college stations, can be really good to you,” he reports, noting that the band has a small but loyal fan base.

“We’re not complaining,” Mr. Berardo says. “As they say around here, it’s better than working at the mill.”

Jay Votel

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