When you think of festive holiday songs, you think of roasting chestnuts, little drummer boys, and a jolly man in a red suit. But the acclaimed singer/songwriter Chris Berardo didn’t have those overly familiar images in mind when he set out to write a Christmas song. “I just couldn’t see myself writing about reindeer or candy canes,” he laughs. “But I’d always wanted to try my hand at the classic ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ which is just a joy to sing.” The Christmas song that Berardo did write, “This Year,” is a deeply personal but universally relatable holiday tune. It celebrates life and serves as a reminder of what we have and a remembrance of what we’ve lost: “the love, the laughs, the photographs and our fair share of tears.” He wrote this powerful, impassioned tune after going through a particularly emotionally rough Christmas last year. “I started just thinking of how lucky we are for the time we do have with the ones we love, and then I felt good because it could be a song that is positive and joyful,” Berardo recalls. “It helped me to feel better and to be thankful. I hope it evokes a nice memory or two for some folks.” Berardo also has an early holiday gift for fans: his first full-band show since February 2020. On October 20th, Berardo and his band, The DesBerardos, will be performing at NYC's The Cutting Room (44 East 32nd Street, NYC 10016. Showtime is 7:00 pm; ticket information can be found here).
"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"Originally, Berardo had planned on recording “This Year” accompanied only by a piano, but things changed after he shared the song with his friend and producer David Abeyta, the long-time guitarist for Texas country rockers Reckless Kelly. “He put his brilliant musical mind into it and we started bouncing ideas around,” Berardo reveals. “He really fleshed it out, playing all the other instruments and I feel like it stands on its own as a song and a record in the style of what he and I have been creating together, which felt really good.”
“This Year” and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" mark the latest collaboration between Berardo and Abeyta. The two worked together on Berardo’s successful 2020 single “Somewhere Blue” and his knock-out cover of Badfinger’s classic “Baby Blue” that came out earlier this year.
An innate showman since the age of 12, Berardo’s music channels the AM radio Southern rock and country influences of his youth in Westchester County, NY – the likes of Neil Young, The Eagles, the Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, Poco, and the Doobie Brothers – while also exhibiting the songcraft he honed writing with the legendary Four Seasons tunesmith Bob Crewe, one of Berardo’s earlier, influential mentors.
Berardo’s breakthrough album Ignoring All The Warning Signs (2006) spent two months in the Top Ten at Sirius XM's Outlaw Country and hit #49 on the Billboard Americana/Folk Album Chart. Through his recordings and charismatic live performances, Berardo and his band have earned a loyal fanbase, critical accolades, and peer respect for the sheer quality and sincerity of their dynamic rootsy Americana rock. It’s a nuanced, genre-straddling sound that resonates widely through both pop sensibilities and outlaw attitude.
Americana UK has hailed Berardo’s sound as “Americana in its truest sense…both keeping the flame alive and moving it forward,” while TMT Radio/Americana Music Timesdeclared The DesBerardos as “one of the finest Americana bands out there.” Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member Richie Furay proclaimed Berardo “a special musical talent and his music shows off the gift he’s been blessed with. You can hear it in each song, songs that are more than just another musical project – they are his heart poured out to you and a passion to share it that can't be denied."
While there is a wry, worldly-wise character to the Connecticut-based musician’s songs, his pure, heartfelt message is ultimately inspiring and optimistic. These qualities are wonderfully exemplified in his latest single. “This Year” exudes a life-affirming joyfulness that captures, yet also transcends, its holiday setting.
“It’s not ‘Jingle Bells’,” Berardo admits. “But I hope it just might evoke a few warm memories and remind a listener how lucky we are for the time we have and the love we share in this world. Oh, and we did ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ too, and it was fun and joyful, just as I had predicted!”