Abbie Gardner, a well-established Dobro guitar player from the band Red Molly, came back to her hometown of Jersey City in early May to play her hometown before continuing on a solo road tour up and down the East Coast.
Gardner, a founding member of an Americana trio called Red Molly, is on her own again after nearly 11 years working as part of the trio.
After recording six CDs, Red Molly went on an indefinite hiatus in September of 2015. But Gardner was not ready to stop, and decided to continue to perform as a solo act, flashing back to a time prior to Red Molly when she played with other groups.
“I have enough material from my solo CDs to perform solo.” – Abbie Gardner
“I have enough material from my solo CDs to perform solo,” she said.
She has lived in Jersey City with her husband Craig Akin for about 10 years.
“I love the city because it is walkable,” she said.
She said she moved to the Hamilton Park section of the Jersey City to be more a part of a community, walk everywhere, meet her neighbors, and enjoy the diversity.
“We moved to The Heights in 2014,” she said, noting that she loves hanging out at the farmer’s market at Riverview/Fisk Park, going to the Fox and Crow for live music and burgers, walking to Mod Cup for coffee, and getting Cuban food at Rumba Cafe.
Inspired by her father
She was inspired to perform by her father Herb Gardner, a trombonist in a Dixieland band and a jazz pianist. Her father has played with some jazz greats like Roy Eldridge and Gene Krupa.
She used to watch him go off to play various gigs.
“He still plays in New York and sometimes I play with him,” she said, recalling his encouragement when she first took flute lessons.
She played violin for a year, extensively studied classical flute, and today also plays guitar and Dobro.
In popular usage, Dobro is the generic term for a lap-style guitar with a metal cone resonator, and is usually played with a metal or glass slide. It is also the American brand name of a guitar manufacturer currently owned by the Gibson Guitar Corporation. The Dobro was originally made by the Dopyera brothers when they formed the Dobro Manufacturing Company.
As a singer, Gardner was a member of the Boston University Inner Strength Gospel Choir. She has also worked with a cappella groups, and was the musical director for the Treblemakers. But although she earned a degree in occupational therapy at Boston University, singing jazz was always her true love.
In 2000, Gardner started singing with the Galvanized Jazz Band. Since that time she has performed with Stan Rubin’s Tigertown Five, Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, the New Deal Orchestra, and Herb Gardner’s Groundhog Band. Abbie Gardner made her recording debut on 2004’s “My Craziest Dream,” a set that she shared with her father.
In recent years she has also performed Appalachian ballads and contemporary folk and country standards in the female trio Red Molly.
She has been recognized as an award-winning songwriter, with accolades from the 2006 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase (2nd place), 2008 Lennon Award Winner (folk) for “The Mind of a Soldier” and 2008 American Songwriter Magazine Grand Prize Lyric Winner for “I’d Rather Be.” “The Mind of a Soldier” was also featured on Lufthansa Airlines in 2010. Abbie has had the honor of being part of the songwriting faculty at the 2010 and 2011 Swannanoa Gatherings and assisting at Reso Summit, Nashville’s Resonator Conference, for the past several years.
With Red Molly, Gardner was reknowned for her performance on the Dobro guitar. “I started playing when I went to college.”
With the band she played Americana, but her solo act is a mix of other kinds of music, including new folk, country, and bluegrass. Many of the songs are her own, although she sometimes delves into tunes that she played with Red Molly as well.
She said she is exploring new musical experiences, and while she is technically a solo act, she is working with various side musicians at each stop.
She will perform at the Ethical Brew in Teaneck on June 4, Joe’s Pub in New York City on June 8, and several other stops in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut before heading south. For more information on her activities and upcoming performances, visit www.abbiegardner.com.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.