Girls with Guitars Tour Gives Audience “Taste of Seven Acts at Once”
“Girls with Guitars” isn’t exactly what it seems.
Yes, there are girls, and yes, they play guitars, but that’s just part of the story.
There are also ukuleles, musical saws, accordions, and keyboards. For Katie Larson and Savannah Buist, the indie folk-rock duo known as The Accidentals, which is part of this female-centric collective, it’s the cello and violin that are still the instruments of choice.
“We met in our high school orchestra,” Larson says. “I play cello and Savannah plays the violin. We formed our band by accident, meeting in the orchestra and then went around town playing our instruments on other artists’ albums. That background just brought us all together.”
Us, in this case, includes artists Blake Elliott, E Minor, Olivia Mainville, Miriam Pico and Missy Zenker, who along with Larson and Buist decided to pool their resources into a tour that gives audiences a taste of what each of them has to offer.
“We were already playing and singing on each other’s albums,” Larson says. “We decided to come together for a show, mostly so we could all be in the same space once a year. What we didn’t know was how powerful it would be, which is why we are taking the show on the road. It’s basically getting a taste of seven acts at once.”
The much-buzzed about Traverse City duo – Larson, 18, and Buist, 19 – have already come a long way since the self-proclaimed orchestra “dorks” met as students at Traverse City, Mich. West Senior High School in 2011. Both musicians grew up in musical families, with mothers (Amber Buist and Mary Larson) who sing and fathers (Rick Buist and Steve Larson) who play piano professionally. The recent high school graduates have already released two albums, 2012’s Tangled Red and Blue and 2013’s Bittersweet, scored the documentary One Simple Question, and placed songs in the indie film Please Wait to Be Seated.
Although Buist is primarily a violinist and Larson a cellist, both play a host of instruments – including guitar, banjo, piano, accordion and bass – delivering catchy indie folk-rock, acoustic pop, and gypsy jazz tunes for a sound they say is constantly evolving.
“We started out with a lot of folk music,” Larson says. “With a guitar and cello and violin it just made sense. But while we were playing folk, we were listening to the White Stripes and weird funk and rap music. Now we have added a drummer (Michael Dause, the lone male in the act), so we’ve been slowly incorporating that into our style of music as well.”
“Our music has always been kind of evolving,” Buist adds. “That’s kind of what Girls with Guitars is all about, because we all bring something different to the table.”
The Girls with Guitars shows are a truly collaborative affair, with musicians swapping songs and learning other artists’ original material, to play supporting roles. The Accidentals take the stage first, with musicians being added into the mix as the night continues.
“Throughout the show we bring out other artists until we have this huge collaboration of artists playing on each other’s music,” Larson says. “By the end of the night it’s seven of us on stage together.”
Earlier this year, The Accidentals caught the attention of Marshall Crenshaw and Grammy Award-winning producer Stewart Lerman, who signed them to a production deal, recording an as-yet-untitled EP in New York City.
If that deal doesn’t work out, both Larson and Buist could fall back on the Berklee School of Music. Both were accepted into Boston’s renowned music school, but decided to use their so-called gap year to explore their budding careers.
“A couple of years ago, we were just a couple of shy, awkward teenagers trying to figure out where we fit in,” Buist says. “We’re still awkward and shy, but we’ve gained a lot of confidence and I feel like we’re coming into our own thanks to everyone who has supported us.”