Siren Looks and Razor Sharp Intellect
Born: Abigail Travis
November 10, 1969
Birthplace: Los Angeles, Calif.
“Imagine a smoky, mid-1920s speakeasy, a shapely alto crooning ironic love songs as she drapes herself along the length of the piano. Then she kicks you in the nuts.”
~ Philadelphia City Paper
The quote taken from the Philadelphia City Paper is an apt description of the fabulously sexy Abby Travis. Her 1920s screen siren looks are an interesting contrast to her modern, razor-sharp intellect, and her progressive outlook on life. She plays bass like nobody’s business, has a smoky and sensuous voice unlike any other, and writes incredibly cerebral music. Her sounds are like something from a Marlene Dietrich cabaret, yet is refreshingly hip at the same time.
Playing with The Go-Go’s and The Bangles
I first discovered her music when she (unofficially) replaced Michael Steele in The Bangles in 2005 when Steele decided to leave the band for unknown personal reasons. That same year, Travis had also worked with Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s on her stellar solo album Light Years and played gigs with Valentine and Jane Wiedlin.The Bangles visited Australia for a concert tour in November 2005, a performance I wholeheartedly loved as it was my first ever concert experience. Though, in all honesty, I did miss Steele playing with Susanna Hoffs and Vicki and Debbi Peterson.
Travis was a dynamic bass player with loads of energy and charisma. She did not sing lead on any songs, nor has she sung lead on any Bangles albums, but she seemed such a natural member of the group that fans soon began calling her “the new Bangle”. There were detractors however, who called her lots of other things, but true fans like myself always rallied to her defense.
A month or so prior to the show, I had purchased her first two solo albums The Abby Travis Foundation and Cut Throat Standards and Black Popfrom Amazon.com. I had never heard her sing before, but as I was going to see her in November, I wanted to check her out. Now, I am certainly glad I did. Travis’ music can be at different times beautiful, thrilling, provocative, upbeat, severely depressing (but not in a negative sense), and uplifting. Travis’ audiences get so many facets of this amazing woman in her albums, and each song becomes an instant classic.
Glitter Mouth from the Pelvis
In 2006, after my first concert experience with Travis and The Bangles, the lady released a third album, Glitter Mouth, which to date, is both my favorite Abby Travis album, and in my top twenty favorites in my 190 item CD collection. Yes, I counted.
Travis explains the theme of her third album as more sensual and emotive than her Mensa-worthy first two releases. This is not to say that Glitter Mouth is not as intelligent as the other two, because it is, but it does appeal more solely to the heart.
“My last album was rather dark and intellectual,” Travis said. “This one comes more from the pelvis.”
Travis not only wrote, sang and played bass (along with other instruments as she is very versatile in this area), she also produced, engineered and mixed much of the album.
“I know, I know,” she confesses with a silvery laugh, “I have trouble delegating sometimes.”
Travis also recorded and released a single called Lies which deals with her frustration regarding “the current US government’s gross mishandling of many important recent events, and the continuing deceit and corruption in the Bush administration.” The song features rhythm guitarist Susanna Hoffs, lead guitarist Vicki Peterson, and drummer Debbi Peterson from The Bangles performing backing vocals.Travis wrote Lies, plays bass, and performs lead vocals. Abby’s own keyboard player, Kristian Hoffman, also hops on board for the new single. Also featured are Dave Bongiovanni on guitar and Rey Washam on drums.
Words of Wisdom