Dressy Bessy returns to tell its own story4/5/2017
Eleven years ago, the Denver band Dressy Bessy was labeled “up and coming” due to the buzz regarding its album “Electrified.” The problem? “Electrified” was Dressy Bessy’s fourth album, and the band had been around nine years at that point.
Last year Dressy Bessy released “Kingsized,” its sixth album and first in eight years. Naturally, the narrative had shifted to “Kingsized” as a comeback album, especially since the tour to support 2008’s “Holler and Stomp” hadn’t broken even. But those are the storylines foisted onto the band. At what point in its own storyline does singer Tammy Ealom see the band?
“Our thing has always been that we’ll be 65 and on stage at the Grammys for ‘Best New Artist,’ ” Ealom joked during a phone interview. “We don’t look at it as a new start or a comeback or whatever. It’s just what we do. We can’t help that it took 10 years for the next album to come around.
“I feel like we’re getting better. After playing ‘Electrified’ for the gazillionth time, it becomes natural and there’s a bliss involved in not thinking about what’s coming out of your being or soul. It’s nice to go out on tour, break even and maybe take a little money home. That’s why we’ve been able to continue for so many years. We don’t have the attitude that ‘This will be the big one that makes us or breaks us.’ ”
Dressy Bessy is in Iowa for three shows this month, April 21 at The Octopus in Cedar Falls, headlining the Uncertainty Festival April 22 in Ames and playing the Vaudeville Mews April 23.
Ealom didn’t intend for there to be such a long gap between albums. First there was the unsuccessful tour for “Holler and Stomp,” but the band was working on new material by 2010. Then Ealom’s father died of liver cancer, throwing her world into disarray. Then original bassist Rob Greene left the band. The band played shows and recorded a few singles in 2012, but there just seemed to be a perfect storm that kept Dressy Bessy from getting “Kingsized” out there.
The next wait shouldn’t be quite so long. Ealom said she has eight songs demoed out, all written since the 2016 presidential election. The new material won’t be out immediately, but Ealom guesses it will be within the next 18 months. The songs are tied to Trump’s win, but she’s not looking to make a political concept album. It’s more of an outlet to release some pent-up frustration.
“I think music is very important in the current political climate,” Ealom said. “There are a lot of people who aren’t paying attention or deciding not to get involved. Music can help get a message across in a more subtle way, or it can be a great escape if you get caught up in it. For John (Hill, her husband and Dressy Bessy’s guitarist) and I, it’s an everyday thing. And for us, the music is a great escape. When I go into the practice room, I feel like I’ve explained something to myself and the world and just got it out. Sometimes a complicated idea is very clear in a guitar riff.” ♦