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November 30, 2004

The Beards Bow To Leonard Cohen

San Francisco Chronicle (CA):

The men dressed in suits are a rough bunch, with mismatched ties, a variety of facial fuzz and an assorted smattering of derby caps and fedoras. They stand out in the crowd of casually dressed hipsters like a battalion of the Salvation Army stationed in San Francisco's 12 Galaxies club. Abruptly, as if answering some silent siren, the suited men abandon their drinks and their cigarettes and head for the stage. They are the Conspiracy of Beards, an all-male chorus that sings only Leonard Cohen songs, and as they assemble in a crescent around choir conductor Daryl Henline, a hush falls over the chatty crowd. "It's really about the joy of singing," says Henline, the group's de facto leader. "Outside of academic settings or the church, people don't really get to experience choral singing, which is a shame, because it's beautiful."

With about 20 members (no one is actually sure how many Beards will show up for a gig), a growing list of dates at venues such as the Hemlock Tavern and Adobe Bookstore, a CD coming out this spring from local label Out of Round Records and plans for a European tour, the Beards are becoming a Bay Area phenomenon. Recently, the Beards took their act to the streets. After an abbreviated practice, they went to the Castro on Halloween night, performing amid the spectacle of costumes and crowds. Henline says that spontaneity is one of his favorite aspects of the Beards.

"We get to go to places where choirs usually can't go," he says. "I've sung in choirs all my life, but I've never had the ability to go to bars or street corners to sing before. Singing 'Everybody Knows' in the Castro was just so fitting with the times right now. It's just a great, wry observation of the multitude of lies in modern society, the kind of stuff people are putting up with every day. "It felt really good to sing that. It's material people need to hear." More

Posted by acapnews at November 30, 2004 12:28 AM