If you're in need of some positive power pop affirmation, look no further this Friday evening to the venerable Bing Arts Center. Springfield's arts oasis is hosting what's billed as the "No Gloom in this Room" appearance of Hartford, CT upstarts, The Dress Ups along with western Massachusetts pop rocker, Rick Murnane, of Group DeVille fame.
Pop music isn't just the preserve of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. It's a fluid genre that isn't necessarily measured in units sold, but rather a hue in a color scheme. The Dress Ups and Rick Murnane represent an understated and traditional approach to what pop music's DNA is about: catchy, sunny and glorious melodies. The Dress Ups, led by vocalist and a relative newcomer to the pop performance scene, Julie Beman, offers a distillate of bright, wan and relationship-intensive songs. The quintet is fairly new and is comprised of older musicians who might be considered hobbyists at best, but for what they do, each is accomplished and sturdy in their game. Beman's voice is strong and oh so vulnerable, reminiscent of The Magnetic Fields', Claudia Gonson. She's also one half of the Casio keyboard-inspired duo, The Tonebanks, with The Grimm Generation bassist, Eric Bloomquist.
If you close your eyes, you'd half expect Murnane was fronting the power pop quartet, Fountains of Wayne. Which might be coincidental considering that he's performed with and recorded his solo record at FOW's Chris Collingwood's studio. Despite sharing similar vocal tics with Collingwood, Murnane, created his own scene awhile back in the early part of this decade with fellow Boomers, Group DeVille. The band was an arch representation of old-timey rock 'n' roll: three part harmonies, tight Everly Brothers harmonies and three chord rock. When the band disbanded, Murnane hit the deck running in a flurry of activity with various collaborators. Friday night's Bing show finds him playing with Dave Hayes of the newly minted Northampton band, Colorway. Expect the unexpected.
The Dress Ups, Rick Murnane with Dave Hayes: Bing Arts Center, 716 Sumner Ave., Springfield, MA, (413) 731-9730, August 16, 2013, 8 PM. $7.50.