Abbie Gardner is a fiery dobro player with an infectious smile. Whether performing solo or with Americana darlings Red Molly, her acclaimed tales of love and loss, both gritty and sweet, are propelled by her impeccable slide guitar chops. Her live show is truly unique - as both an award winning songwriter and interpreter of folk styles, a captivating vocalist, and a world class lap style dobro player, she has an unmistakable sound all her own. Her latest CD, Wishes on a Neon Sign was released in January 2018, and features twelve original songs, including a co-write with Chris Stapleton. She has opened for Lori McKenna, Hot Rize and Martina McBride.
Abbie's background is as varied as the songs she writes. She has listened to the sweet sound of high lonesome harmonies since her first bluegrass festival at the age of three. Her father, Herb Gardner, is a swing jazz and stride pianist and dixieland trombonist. Watching him laugh as he went off to "work" every day was her first introduction to the joy of being a musician. Abbie's first full-length recording, My Craziest Dream (2004) is an album of jazz standards featuring her father on piano. It earned her an entry in the 2009 Hal Leonard book "The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide." Abbie studied classical flute growing up, but once she started playing Dobro in 2004 she found her main instrument. She traveled to Lyons, CO and Nashville, TN to study with Rob Ickes and Sally Van Meter. Her CD releases include Honey on My Grave (2006), Bad Nights/Better Days (2008, with Anthony da Costa), and Hope (2011), which features three different kinds of slide guitar (dobro, lap steel and National bottleneck).
Abbie has been recognized as an award-winning songwriter, with such accolades as; 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 Swannanoa Gatherings (2010, 2011) and Ellis Paul's New England Songwriters Retreat (2017, 2018). In 2018, she taught Dobro at both the Targhee Music Camp and the Nashville Dobro Camp. She wrote and released a song per week for a year as part of the 2013 Real Women Real Songs project and continues to attend Jack Hardy's Monday night Songwriter's Exchange in NYC to hone her writing skills.
High Praise for Abbie Gardner...
"Not only a first-rate Dobro player, but a songwriter to be reckoned with."
-John Platt, WFUV
"Abbie Gardner shows her prodigious writing chops in her album, Hope. Tales of love and loss, both gritty and sweet, ride the back of her by-now familiar, formidable slide guitar licks. She channels Lucinda and Bonnie, but remains pure Abbie."
- Richard Cuccaro, Publisher, Acoustic Live
A southeastern North Carolina native who now calls Herndon, Virginia home, Matthews blends Americana, folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass and funk into a bold, complex performance steeped in traditional melodies and punctuated by honest, original lyrics. Having been compared to everyone from Toshi Reagon to Tracy Chapman to Ruthie Foster, Matthews' eclectic infusion of genres has won her honorable mentions at the 2017, 2013 and 2014 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest and extensive radio play from Woman of Substance radio to WTJU-Charlottesville and WMRA-Harrisonburg to KBOO-Portland.
Equally at home in an acoustic listening room as she is on stage at large music festivals, Matthews has quickly gathered a loyal following on the east coast playing such prestigious venues as the Sundance Film Festival, The Birchmere, The Hamilton, and Jammin' Java. Matthews' festival and showcase roster has included BMI's Island Hopper Songwriter Festival, the 40th Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, Folk Alliance International, 30A Songwriters Festival, Northeast Regional Folk Alliance and many more. Most notably, Crys was named as Grand Prize Winner of the NewSong Music Competition, which took place in 2017 at Lincoln Center, beating out ten other finalists selected from over 5,000 musical competitors.
A prolific lyricist and composer, Matthews has found inspiration in her surroundings; from driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the compelling and heart-breaking love story of Richard and Mildred Loving. Thoughtful, realistic and emotional, Matthews' songs speak to the voice of our generation and remind us why music indeed soothes the soul.
Here's what her music insiders are saying about Crys Matthews...
Crys Matthews is a necessary voice. Her depth coupled with her openness and approachability was unmatched. She has a spark that is contagious and shares music that unites us and makes us think.
Viviana Benitez, Associate Producer at Lincoln Center and 2017 NewSong judge
Matthews won hearts and minds with her infectious folk/blues songs that boldly explored everything from the follies of the human heart to our current political milieu. By wrapping honest emotions around her socially conscious messages and dynamically delivering them with a warm heart and a strong voice, she lifted our spirits just when we need it most in these troubled times.
Erik Philbrook, ASCAP VP/Creative Director and NewSong Music Judge