The “independent” music sector has always maintained an underlying sense of “us vs. them” or “David vs. Goliath” regarding the ubiquitous mainstream. That age-old story played out in June this year when National Public Radio’s Ken Tucker decided to stage a contest pitting the new album by the internationally successful, MTV-supported band Coldplay against a regionally popular but independent Denver, Colo., group called Dressy Bessy. Tucker was not shy about his distaste for Coldplay’s X&Y, nor did he repress his enthusiasm for Dressy Bessy’s Electrified, referring to the latter as the “far more efficient pleasure-machine.”
Dressy Bessy’s frontwoman Tammy Ealom is modest about her band’s resultant triumph, which resonated in the indie community far longer than in the larger arena of popular culture, where NPR itself is a mere ripple beset by waves. Though Tucker’s radio review was dripping with compliments for the band (“the spunkiest, most life-affirming music”), Ealom remains matter-of-fact: “[Tucker] had some albums on his desk and he liked one better than the other.” But then she pauses and breaks into a laugh: “It was pretty cool.”
Life on the brink of widespread recognition for Ealom and bandmates John Hill (guitar), Rob Greene (bass) and Craig Gilbert (drums), means licensing their ’60s-influenced garage pop to the soundtrack of the “Powerpuff Girls” animated television show and playing small venues. It also means hoping for a solid support tour to jump on, but still being big enough to play on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”—which they did this past August.
Television gigs are a blast, according to Ealom, but she’s most proud of her live shows and the evolution of the band, which continues to prosper after six years of touring and recording together.
“I’m just hoping that we keep on plugging along,” she says. “We’re playing better than we ever have, and personally we’re getting along better. It’s a growing thing.”
Dressy Bessy plays upstairs at the Elk’s Lodge Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 10 PM. Two Year Touqe and Thurniture open. $5.