Debi Smith says she and her bandmates from The Four Bitchin’ Babes are a bit like the ladies from the beloved HBO show “Sex and the City.” Replace those cosmos with guitars, those designer shoes with a piano, and the racy urbanite banter with four-part harmonies and you’ve got a good sense of what can happen when four women of different personalities join forces for a musical project.
The brainchild of folk singer-songwriter Christine Lavin, The Four Bitchin’ Babes was originally founded in 1990, a project that brought female singer-songwriters together to express their unique points of view musically. Their first album, Buy Me, Bring Me, Take Me, Don’t Mess My Hair, Life According to Four Bitchin’ Babes, recorded during a live performance in the summer of 1990 at The Birchmere, set the tone. From tongue-in-cheek originals like “Prisoners of Their Hairdos” to sincere adaptations of standards like “Home Is Where The Heart Is,” the album blends the humorous and the heartfelt. While the lineup has changed over the years, the band still stands at the intersection of comedy and music in both songs and storytelling.
The current lineup – original member Sally Fingerett, Deirdre Flint, Nancy Moran, and Smith, all solo songwriters and musicians – will be taking the stage for a two-night engagement at The Birchmere this Friday and Saturday in performances that will feature not only favorites from their shows “Diva Nation” and “Hormonal Imbalance,” but also a few holiday tunes and some new material to be debuted at The Birchmere.
The News-Press spoke with Smith before the Bitchin’ Babes show about the group, and the humor and harmony that goes into what they do.
LP: What is a Bitchin’ Babe?
DS: The term itself originated as a sort of a surfer term. There’s a scene in “American Graffiti” where the woman with the blond hair, the real dish, is walking down the street and the dweeby guy looks at her and says, “What a babe …what a bitchin’ babe.” We’re kind of hip, groovy, timeless and ageless – we put in the ageless ourselves – and a lot of fun.
LP: How did you become involved with the group?
DS: I’ve actually been in the group now for 17 years. It’s always been a group that has kind of evolved – people have a child or they have a hit song or something happens, and people come and go. Julie Gold was in the group before me, and she wrote the song “From a Distance,” which was recorded by Bette Midler and won a Grammy. She went into songwriting full time pretty much. They were looking for a new babe, and that is when I came in.
LP: How does members coming and going since the group’s formation affect its identity?
DS: It’s interesting – it does change somewhat because of whatever talent somebody brings in, but it’s always as much fun offstage as it is on – that’s one thing that’s been consistent. It can change musically just because whoever comes in has a little bit of a different voice, or plays a different instrument, or has different songs they bring in, but it’s always fun.
LP: What can you tell me about the new material to be previewed at The Birchmere?
DS: A lot of it is very funny, and it reflects some of the things we are going through, but it also reflects the times. I have a song called “Just in Case,” about all the things we do just in case. One of the girls has one about Facebook, and another is about retail therapy.
LP: How do comedy and music work together in your shows?
DS: We write a lot of just comedy songs, but also we like to tell stories in between. Deirdre Flint, she could be a stand-up comedienne, she is so funny. It’s interesting setting a funny song to music. It actually works really well. People like to laugh – and people leave our shows saying they laughed so hard their stomach hurts, or their face hurts, but they also say the song was so poignant it made them cry. I think we take everybody on a journey to different emotions.
• For more information about The Four Bitchin’ Babes, visit fourbitchinbabes.com.