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The BEARatones come out of hibernation
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The BEARatones come out of hibernation

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

The BEARatones
April 16
Little Red Bistro (400 Dexter Ave. N.)


The BEARatones is an a cappella group that has come out of its hibernation in Seattle. Self-described as "a Seattle-based vocal sextet that puts their furry spin on life, love, and lust in long johns," this group of six individuals gathers together to sing their large (and furry) hearts out.

The group sings a cappella and with accompaniment by sometime-singing group member Christopher Smith. They cover a wide variety of styles, from show tunes to pop hits, and even original songs. "Charles [Baker] is an outstanding composer/lyricist," says BEARatones founder Tony Gilkinson. "[He] has crafted many of our songs for the show."

Defined by Bear Magazine (1992), a "bear" is "masculinity without the trappings." "We definitely do not look like a boy band like N*SYNC," says group founder Gilkinson, "unless you checked in with them years down the road & for a season of Celebrity Fit Club."

He is quick to add, "We infuse a lot of humor in our songs that is often self-deprecating to the stereotypes of what being a 'bear' is."

Gilkinson is the den leader of the Seattle singing group. Having conceived of the idea in 1996 while living in Salt Lake City, it wasn't until he moved to Seattle that the BEARatones took shape. After working with nine men in 2007, he shaved it down to five members: himself, Mike Krake, Aaron Rodriguez, Steve Wolf, and Junior Roth. After open auditions later that year, Clair Stevenson joined to round the group out to the current six.

The next show is called "Singing in Our Underpants" (www.bearatones.com). The title comes from rehearsals and recordings made in a studio. "The air conditioning is turned off to keep the A/C noise from bleeding over onto the recording," explains Gilkinson. "To stay as cool as possible, we dropped our pants and just sang away." The song "Singing in Our Underpants" was on one of the groups' favorite CDs and inspired the action and their cover version - with their own twist, of course. "There is something freeing about just letting yourself go," Gilkinson adds.

The group is part of a bigger musical bear genre that seems to be making an appearance in the Gay music world. Bears-on-the-Run is an East Coast-based a cappella group consisting of five members, while Bearapalooza (www.bearapalooza.com) is a touring music festival that features over 35 different artists.

"Singing in Our Underpants" will be performed at the Little Red Bistro Gallery located at 400 Dexter Ave. N. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/97484. If you want to see if the Bears live up to the concert's title, well, you'll have to show up and find out. Alcohol will be served, so this is a 21+ event. Meet the cast afterwards for the Bearracuda dance at Chop Suey.

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