The Acoustic Guitar Project (TAGP), the international creative venture conceived by Detroit native Dave Adams to inspire original music, as detailed in a Metro Times cover story in July, has selected the first artists to accept its "One Guitar. One Week. One Song." challenge for metro Detroit.
And the handmade, customized-for-Detroit six-string, dubbed "This Symphony, This City," initially goes to (a drum roll here would be appropriate)....
Two sisters from Oxford. Lola and Beez.
Adams, for his part, is as surprised as you may be. He never had any intention of venturing so far beyond the city limits (Oxford is about 42 miles northwest of Detroit) to find just-turned-23, singer-guitarist Lauren "Lola" Reisig and her 18-year-old sister Elizabeth, or "Beez," who perform together under the name Carts Before Horses
For that matter, "I never planned on having a duo in the Project," Adams allows. "But when I heard Lauren and Elizabeth sing together, the beauty of their voices literally brought tears to my eyes. I knew right away that I had to break the format for them.
'Lola' and 'Beez' Reisig, 'Carts Before Horses'
"As sisters, best friends and vocalists, Lauren and Elizabeth are the perfect example of harmony. It’s an honor to help them in any way I can.”
The two had one week to use the guitar, custom built by Maryland craftsman Victor Long, to compose and record an original song. They hardly needed that much time.
"We wrote the song primarily in an hour the first night we had the guitar, and we've been fine-tuning it since then," says Lauren. "It was the fastest song we've ever written and I think part of it was because of the guitar. We were just so inspired by the instrument. It's insanely gorgeous, by far the prettiest guitar I've ever played, and just sounds so rich and so amazing. It's just absolutely phenomenally made."
Their composition, tentatively titled "Beautiful Day," will be recorded live on a hand-held recorder – no editing, overdubs or other common studio tricks – and uploaded to the Acoustic Guitar Project website.
The girls then will sign the guitar and pass it on to another musician who will begin the process anew. TAGP already has rolled out its unique version of guitar tag in New York, Helsinki, Bogota and Port-au-Prince; the Detroit edition, however, will include the videotaping of artists for the pilot of a potential television series, bankrolled by funds raised through a Kickstarter campaign.
The Reisig sisters, originally from Madison Heights and homeschooled until high school, began street performing less than a year ago. They had sung together around their home since they were children, "but it never really struck us until we stared playing shows and people started saying, 'Your harmonies are so great,'" Lauren relates.
"You know, when you sing with someone that much and you know them that well, you can just kind of predict what they're going to do, so it just came pretty naturally to us. We didn't even know that it was something special until people started telling us. We just thought it was normal."
The girls released their debut five-song EP, Allegories
, on iTunes last March. (You also can hear some examples of the sisters' blended voices on the Carts Before Horses website
Moving to Oxford "was pretty difficult for all of us," says Beez, who got her nickname from the infant daughter of a family friend who couldn't pronounce Elizabeth. "We lost our house through financial reasons, we came up here under bad circumstances, but it wound up being the best possible thing for us. We're all so happy here, and this town gave us our start. I really don't think we would have had this opportunity anywhere else."
The Reisig Sisters, taping for TAGP TV pilot.
Oh, and about the duo's stage name? "It comes from the fact that we booked our first show before we were actually a band," Lauren explains with a laugh. "We were on the bill for this show and we needed a name like right away. Our dad made the joke that we were putting the cart before the horse and we were like, 'Hey, that works.'"
Adams continues to seek out Detroit guitarist composers willing to take to pick up The Acoustic Guitar Project mantle, even though the taping of pilot episodes has begun. To be considered, go to their website at theacousticguitarproject.com,
go to the section headed "I Want to Participate" and click the link, "Apply Now."