Monday, January 30, 2012


  This is the report I almost didn't write. I had just finished and was pretty content with then most recent I Want MARGOT MacDONALD FOR CHRISTMAS! in which I announced Margot & Friends to readers of this blog. I really couldn't wait but somehow managed to hold on until I was finally at the event enjoying its holiday fun. It was easily everything advance promotion had advertised and more. I had just run into DC music community mainstay (and according to that community's gossip, its friendliest member) Ted Zook who leaned in my direction and whispered, "When's the next one, Den?" It was a question I could normally be counted on to answer accurately, but this time, I smiled, shrugged and replied that I honestly didn't know. In my defense, I had promised in that earlier blog not to speculate too much in the interim about the coming New Year of Margot and her music. I wanted to fully enjoy this current event with her, her band, her special guests and fans like Ted who had been with us at so many other shows the whole year. As at any of the holiday celebrations happening in DC and the world roughly simultaneously to Margot's, this was our time to reflect on 2011 things that really mattered, be a bit sad about this one being the year's last, but ultimately excited and hopeful for even brighter if unspecified new things to come. Right then it seemed appropriate to allow 2011 to melt into the same happy, similarly unaccounted for f/1.4 bokeh of memories, with nothing too much more ambitious than a resolve to do a bit better job of documenting the ones the New Year would bring. More and better words and pictures in the future (I promise[d]!), but for right now I was done.

  New Year 2012, however, arrived with a bum's rush of curiosity dwarfing Ted's question about that unnamed first show of the year. Some of my friends assumed Margot must have headlined a New Year's Eve concert; so, I was questioned about how that "went," even though one was neither announced nor occurred. Even those who had attended Margot & Friends with me inquired about the blog I most certainly had to write about such an important event and asked that I let them know once it was published to make sure they got to read it. The other group of eager readers I had neglected to consider was new fans discovering Margot's music subsequent to the December 22nd show. These rushed online with a voracious appetite to make up lost time during our own hurried post-production and posting to catch the last lingering wave of interest in seasonal music sharing the show's video. These late comers arrived just in time to experience the general afterglow still present among the party's attendees and performers, kicking themselves for their unusually bad timing, pouring over the posted show notices, and again, expressing interest in reading a report about the show.

  First and most important lesson of 2012: I am not in charge of this blog; I merely write it. You guys decide what you want to know and when. Would you like fries with that?Newly revised plan: This will be I. a quick(?) update (already in progress) on the Margot & Friends holiday show followed by II. a 2011 Margot highlight recap. Best laid plans, take one, rolling:

Margot & Friends Holiday show
  As I explained in I Want MARGOT MacDONALD FOR CHRISTMAS!, Margot & Friends was the 2011 installment of host Margot MacDonald's unique contribution to DC holiday tradition, held on December 22nd at IOTA Club & Café in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, VA. I'm normally one of the first people to arrive at Margot's shows to get cameras and audio equipment set up before sound check, but even though I was early this night, there was already a crowd in the venue and anticipation in the air. It seemed all the rest of Margot's audience was just as eager as I was for this party to start. I call the people I spend time with at all Margot's shows her super fans. I've already mentioned Ted, but the first fellow member of the club I ran into at IOTA that night was Brick. He was seated where I normally set up, having dinner; so, I set up beside him. I actually ended up in his way not once but twice that same night--there and at the alternate Camera B position I shoot from house-left. Sorry about that, Brick, but so good to see you! In addition to Brick, Ted and other Margot fans, many of my close, personal, non-musician friends were there too. Thanks, Christy & Thomas! Thomas was even brave enough to have dinner at that same table, now holding mixers and other audio and video equipment. Another highlight of the evening was spending time with fellow music blogger Shawn Catherine Fisher of the Falling Leaves blog. She's always an interesting read, rarely misses a chance to help spread the word about DC music and musicians, is extremely pleasant to interact with online, but particularly sweet in person. She's also one of the countless friends I probably wouldn't have met were it not for the Margot MacDonald connection that originally introduced us. Finally, there was Stephen Negrey who was running the venue that night, always on duty but never too busy to stop to chat a bit with guests. Stephen and sister Jane are just two more important reasons to love IOTA Club & Café.

  The party was also the nice chance I had hoped for (and promised in most of my Facebook invitations) for catching up with the many DC musicians I enjoy chatting with, photographing or being entertained by. I can't emphasize enough how special this group of friends is to me in the very best and personally most meaningful ways. Whether it's our deep, mutual respect for music and other art or our shared endless supply of hugs, I get a feeling of community with them I don't experience to this degree with any other crowd. That music-based social portion of my night progressed from spending time, as mentioned, with bass cellist Ted Zook, through reacquainting myself with awesome Matt Hutchison, to a pleasant conversation with super nice, super talented Rob Martino near the bar and then literally bumping into Gideon Grove during one of my hurried trips to Camera B. Addieville's Dayana Yochim shared what's got to be the sweetest smile in DC music and gave away a bit of the mostly secret details of the night's unfolding itinerary by revealing that Margot was NOT planning to have her play egg shaker. Truthfully though, there was such a game of musical-instrument musical chairs under way that I wouldn't have been surprised to see anybody play anything that night. I was pleased to manage a free moment with super popular Maureen Andary of The Sweater Set. There was even time to sit a bit and catch up with guitar wizard Dan Cohn. I probably spent the biggest total of gathered scattered moments with best new music friend and talented entertainer Phillip Noss. As if all that wasn't pleasing enough, it was heaven to share some holiday cheer with the party's host and organizer Margot MacDonald and the rest of her core music family, band mates KC and Alan. These three are the motivation for pretty much anything of artistic value I do and my own raison d'être in the DC music community we share.

  If the audience was excited tonight, there were still brighter smiles gleaming back from the stage,
outshining even the trademark sprays of tiny white lights that accent IOTA's artists like baby's breath does a dozen roses. Matt and Tim Hutchison's performance turned IOTA into a London pub for their super-entertaining set, reminding me how much I’d missed lengendary Baltimore band Fools & Horses. Matt's been playing a bit further out lately, building a fan base for his new solo career, in what I call the Ocean City tour because it includes towns like Easton, MD I normally travel through on my way to the beach at Ocean City, MD; so, it was a treat for local fans like me to have them play so close to home. It's always sad when a band breaks up, but these two playing together were equally compelling. I've become a fan all over again.

  Margot MacDonald, perennially stunning, was ravishing in her stylishly sexy red Free People Clarendon dress, totally looking the classy superstar she is. She seemed to radiate holiday spirit and was obviously having as great a night as her audience and guests. Margot & Friends was much more a blueprint for the evening than simply the clever, cozy name for the event I had assumed it to be, as many of the "friends" performed not in isolation but joining Margot and her band on stage, collaborating to create some super memorable moments. The emotional apex of the evening came
with Margot inviting little brother Remy up to the stage to play snare on "Little Drummer Boy." The audience reacted en masse as soon as they realized what was happening, witnessing the most touching performance I've personally ever experienced in my countless pilgrimages to IOTA. I have to add though that in addition to being an "Aw!"-inspiring and convincing personification of the boy in that song, Remy MacDonald is an accomplished drummer in his own right. Well, okay, just a bit smaller and cuter than most other drummers I know--sorry, Alan! Other highlights included Rob Martino's captivating Chapman Stick accompaniment to Margot's vocal on "White Christmas" and some of the crowded-roster performances prompting doubts whether so much talent would actually fit on IOTA's stage. The arrangement definitely took my camera angle to task. It was difficult to keep flank men, Margot MacDonald Band's KC Hatton and the other side's guy, a man with more than enough talent to back up his rock attitude, guest Derek Evry, in the same shot. The audio gods were particularly happy that night, however; so, please do enjoy the video. Margot's created a special Holiday Set playlist with video of most of the holiday songs from this segment. There may be a video or two in that set that wasn't shot at the 2011 edition of Margot & Friends, but you’ll enjoy those as well. The other advantage of using the playlist is that it’ll automatically include any additional videos Margot might add after this blog is published. Yeah, good deal!

  Phillip Noss took us home. He's the good friend and great musician I had recorded earlier at the
showcase series Margot hosts as Youth Director for the Songwriters' Association of Washington (SAW). By party time, I had seen him play at least twice before, but this was my first opportunity to catch him at the helm of his full rock band, which also includes mutual friend Owen Danoff. Even though I was already a fan, what I was seeing tonight was a new level of awesome. Phillip Noss Band was magnificent--definitely one to keep your eye on in young country rock--with catchy tunes like favorite "Lover on the Run." He's also raising money to fund a new album with that same name; so, help Phil out if you can. You’ll be hard pressed to find either a better cause or a nicer guy.

  In addition to being such a great party, a chance to wish Margot "Merry Christmas!" a hangout with friends who are important to me, and a ton of awesome music in my favorite venue, Margot & Friends was my opportunity to experience a native Margot MacDonald variety show. Margot is constantly participating in and often organizing shows for already-mentioned SAW, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and various charities. Everyone involved appreciates the time and effort she gives of herself to make those happen, but having a sponsoring organization can add additional restrictions--things like performers having to be BMI songwriters, young/emerging artists, SAW members, or whatever else the organization is trying to promote at the time. For once, I was seeing a group of people brought together by Margot just because Margot wanted them to play that night, and it was amazing. Experiences like this one make me lament the death of the weekly, star-fronted television variety show, as I could totally imagine Margot hosting a super-cool modern version of something like the Sonny & Cher Show. Musings aside, Margot & Friends was a huge and unanimous success. If you'll forgive the slight violation of ground rules for this blog, I am so looking forward to attending Margot & Friends 2012!

Ten Margot highlights of 2011
  I realize the title for a list like this one would normally read "Top" Ten, but I'm not feeling quite that pretentious right now. Margot does so many amazing things for such a variety of people, that any one of her beneficiaries could probably contribute a new story that would easily top some of these or at least expand the list to two hundred or so. Even my own list would probably be different from day to day as I remember new things--some as simple but precious to me as one of her off-stage smiles; so, no, not strictly the top ten--just ten pretty darn special happenings that make me excited about spending the coming New Year in the audience of this artist I can't help but love. I will stick to ten, David Letterman style, and try to keep them in some type of order--inverse order actually--to build a bit of suspense. Since this is a cooperative effort, if you remember something particularly touching from your year with Margot, you got it, that's what the comment field at the end of the blog is for. You can also always leave related posts on Denuine's Facebook page.

10. New Surge of Excitement for "Retro" Margot MacDonald Rock
  In my debut blog here on, Margot MacDonald: RECYCLING SOUND, I discussed the sea change in Margot's music that accompanied the incorporation of her looping. In fact, I was delighted to note subsequently that the business card Margot included in the box for her Made-by-Margot Christmas ornament actually listed loopist among her core skills. What I didn't anticipate was that while new and old fans alike were enjoying Margot's great new loop pedal songs like favorites original "Speed of Sound" and cover "Teardrop," there was a growing new wave of fans led by music blogger Gina Jordan and others on Facebook, Twitter and particularly the new Google+ social networking platform who were just discovering and getting excited about Margot's earlier rock covers--great classics like "Immigrant Song" and "Paint It Black" either of which is an excellent reason to buy or keep spinning your own copy of Margot's current album WALLS (or even go look for a copy of TORN!)

9. HDSLR Video
  If you can forgive the geek in some of these earlier 2011 milestones, I'll share my excitement with some of the technical innovations helping improve the back-end work of presenting Margot's music to you. High Definition/Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras (the big black Nikons you might see me wearing, along with my gilded pick Made-by-Margot necklace at Margot's shows) have been bringing broadcast quality video within reach of those of us who capture live shows for later viewing on YouTube. Margot herself took the lead in this area for her music by employing the technology in her Floor Sessions cover series. You've probably also noticed some particularly cool looking segments in the video (linked above) from Margot & Friends, the first live-Margot video series to include HDSLR footage. These cameras have a much bigger sensor than the prosumer camcorders we've had access to up to this point. You'll notice the superior low-light performance and increased detail capturing things like Margot's awesome red hair. Technological innovations like these are just one small part of the race to try to keep up with Margot's tireless pursuit of excellence. It's an impossible task but always fun to try. Stay tuned for even cooler technological advances in the future.

8. Loop Station Upgrade
  Geeking again, but I should probably also briefly mention Margot's new loop station. I'll leave the details to Margot and her merch table chats, but if you're interested in the looping technology you see in her shows, do ask her about it. She shares a simple introduction prior to the first loop pedal song at her live shows just to ward off total confusion among some of her audience members about precisely how she employs the pedal. No, there's nothing up her sleeves--at least nothing prerecorded on the device before she starts to play. Understanding that all the sound exiting the device is added in real time by Margot right there on stage makes the performance all the more spectacular. In addition to the new loop station itself, she's been experimenting with alternate positioning, elevating the pedal up off the floor to operate it with her hands rather than her feet. She seems to like it there for now, but I do miss the mesmerizing dance movements she had integrated into her pedal stomps on some songs.

7. Floor Sessions: World-Class Covers

  I've spoiled the surprise several times already in the current blog, but that just underscores the importance of this innovative series of cover songs Margot performs in her own basement, often on the floor, in such a down-to-earth, unassuming way. The video is recorded by Alan Kayanan her drummer and also one of the many photographers happy to point his lens in the direction of this lovely young woman. (His most memorable photo of Margot is probably his shot of her playing that great acoustic piano at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC). Such a simple presentation of something ultimately so enticing makes the result all the more impressive. The videos we experience in this series boast no credits to the acoustics of Carnegie Hall, a good night among storied session musicians, or the nimble fader fingers of producer Quincy Jones. No, it's just a girl rocking out in her basement and being OMG amazing! The chance to enjoy these covers is particularly fortunate for Margot's fans, because adding cover songs to the mix hasn't come natural for her. The reason is her intense independence and creativity. Redoing something already done by some other artist simply didn't originally make sense to her. We now enjoy the best of both worlds, with Margot attacking these songs with the degree of fresh effort she normally reserves for writing new originals. A fan at a Wheaton, MD festival headlined by Margot described it this way: "With singer/songwriters, I can always tell a cover song--even when I'm not familiar with the original recording--because it’s professionally written. These songs just have that something originals do not. When Margot performs, I don't hear a difference. Her originals are extremely well written, and she makes the covers her own also; so, I can just kick back and enjoy it all."

  Margot maintains a playlist, Floor Sessions: Margot MacDonald, for her Floor Sessions videos; do not miss them! Remember fans can request their own favorites according to a monthly theme Margot publishes online; so, keep an eye out for that opportunity!

6. Maker of Made-by-Margot
  Things that Margot makes with her own hands are important for numerous reasons. Some artistic, as in the contribution other otherwise unrelated pieces, like a Margot MacDonald painting in an art museum, might make to the overall understanding of this woman as artist. Others are more personal, providing a physical, tactile something fans can take home and live with or wear to feel connected.
The works themselves are way cool, all of the above and more. The Made-by-Margot necklace I wear is particularly special to me. I feel closer to Margot, her art and music when I wear it, and wearing it helps others see how important they are to me. People comment on how unique the artwork is, how cool it is as jewelry, how great it looks on me, where can they get their own?—always accompanied by an opportunity to enlighten a fellow human being about my favorite artist and what she does. I've even had silent compliments. A woman walked up to me on Metro, picked up the gilded pick with her fingers to get a better look, let it fall back down again, smiled at me and then walked away. Yeah, I did feel a bit like a Macy’s mannequin, but I appreciated her interest. Finally, there's a style and harmony that results when the artist who gives my spirit wings with her music also designs the key accents to my persona.

  At Margot & Friends the star Made-by-Margot item was her unique holiday ornament. This was by far my favorite thing on or under the tree this year. As I mentioned to Margot, non-musicians won't fully appreciate how much skill and engineering must go into creating one of these. They lay perfectly flat in the gift box that holds them but open up mobile-style into a perfect minimalist sphere when fully deployed. The thing that really blows my mind about them is they're made from guitar strings (apart from the gilded pick theme that carries over from Margot's necklaces). My amazement comes from my own experience changing strings on my Gibson guitars. While Margot recycles her strings, it's all I can do to successfully transport them to the trash can. My plan is to coil them up to the point where they'll fit inside the can's opening. When I open my hand to release them, however, they quickly spring back to their former shape and size, falling to the floor outside the can's rim. Okay, so I'm not Margot MacDonald!

5. Margot MacDonald, Photographer
  It's ironic that this woman who lives in the preferred critical area of focus of so many great photographers (see the next section, #4), is herself personally responsible for so many of my
favorite photographs. I'm fond of saying it was a generous gift of physical circumstance that it's considerably more difficult for photographer Margot MacDonald to photograph sought-after model Margot MacDonald, than for the rest of my peers and me. Otherwise she wouldn't need any of the rest of us at all! Subject aside, Margot has a gift for capturing images that literally leap off their emulsion with a timing that must be related to similar forces guiding her as she flies down the staff of songs like "Speed of Sound" on her loop pedal. The only thing tripping in either case is shutters, and the images captured through Margot's lens are breathtaking. Many of Margot's still-life photographs belong in museums, but I have a particular affinity for her efforts in my own world of live concert photography where Margot is more often than not the subject of my work. This picture is particularly humbling to me personally, because I was at that same OK Go concert at the Kennedy Center the night she shot it, seemingly with an equal opportunity to shoot the same scenes she did, but nothing in my set is anywhere nearly as cool as this!

4. Margot Press/Blogs/Photos
  I was at one of the showcases Margot hosts for SAW recently and was pleased to see fellow super fan Tom there. I walked over, shook his hand and told him how good it was to see him. I'm fond of saying Margot's fans form what feels like a family, and we're almost as happy to see each other as we are to spend time with our star. I asked him how he'd been, and he answered, "Well, you know--Margot withdrawal. I just had to come hear her sing." Yeah, I did know. Nightly Margot wouldn't be too often for me but taxing I'm sure for her, particularly considering all the other things she needs to do (like writing the much-loved music she shares). It helps that there's an army of reporters, bloggers and photographers helping capture these precious performances, related happenings and irresistible facets of her being that give us innovative ways to feed the Margot fix while she's in recluse mode creating new art. One of my very favorite such 2011 articles was The Deli Magazine's Margot MacDonald: A Modest Introduction. Reporter Jarrett was lucky enough to accidentally attend one of the many festival shows Margot participated in this past summer, literally lured to the stage from afar by the sound of her amazing voice in the distance. This same piece contained my favorite quote of the year: "There were at least three photographers with expensive, telephoto rigs photographing her performance as if this Reston festival were Lollapalooza." 2011 was to provide many such photo opportunities--both live shows and planned shoots--so that the traditional ranks of photographer favorites like Brandon Wu and Kenny Reff swelled to include the talents of Francesco Sapienza, Jonathan Timmes, Stephen Gosling and Francisco Campos-Lopez. Timmes' excellent shoot with Margot was to illustrate Robert Fulton's slick-paper-printed feature Girls Rock for Northern Virginia Magazine's Musical Elite: Artists Who Have Transcended the Region series. I've become a fan of Jonathan's work and am looking forward to seeing more treasures from his shoot with Margot as she reveals them piecemeal as profile pictures on her Margot MacDonald Music Facebook page in the New Year. I'm also looking forward to seeing and reading new contributions from these and still other artists who find themselves inspired by Margot in the future, as well as continuing to contribute whatever I can to the cause.

  What could possibly be better than all that? How about hearing what's on Margot's mind in her own words once a month directly from her--complete with a great picture and a list of what's new and exciting including her upcoming shows? If that sounds awesome, you want to make sure you're on her mailing list to receive Margot's High Notes, her newsletter. It was established the year before, but every 2011 issue was it's own highlight. It's the most entertaining periodically-published piece of prose on the planet!

3. WAMA Artist of the Year

  I always enjoy road trips to Margot’s away performances, as well as my previous scouting missions to LA for the GRAMMY Awards to ID a good set of seats for when the time eventually comes for Margot to pick up her own statue. There is, however, no greater pleasure or convenience than spending time with my favorite performer right here at home. To help ensure the area continues to support a vibrant music scene, we have organizations for musicians, their music and their prospects for being able to make a living at their craft. In addition to the SAW organization already mentioned for songwriters, the more general group for musicians is the Washington-Area Music Association (WAMA). At WAMA's 2011 awards presentation, the Wammies, I was thrilled to hear the name "Margot MacDonald" announced as the recipient of the Wammie for Artist of the Year. The really cool thing about the distinction is that it's a peer award. It's nice to be loved by fans but quite another thing entirely to know your fellow musicians think you're pretty special too.

  Speaking of awards, around this same time (still early in 2011), Margot was the recipient of a Power 30 Under 30 award, recognizing those who accomplish great things sooner than later in life.

  One of the frustrating but exciting things about writing a blog about relatively recent events is that while I'm reminding us of all the great 2011 happenings we love to relive, 2012 won't wait until I finish; cool new things keep happening! The most recent case is Margot's just-announced nominations for Artist of the Year, WAMA/SAW Songwriter of the Year and Modern Rock Vocalist for the current 26th annual Washington Area Music Association Wammie awards. Let's do what we can to turn these nominations into wins for our star. WAMA members can vote here. A bit later, everyone will have a chance to vote for Margot in WAMA's special Fans' Choice category. Keep an eye out for the announcement and link!

2. Margot MacDonald live
  I've already mentioned Margot's awesome 2011 holiday party, itself a strong contender for most entertaining show of the year. Simply put, experiencing Margot MacDonald live is exciting--no
surprise for anyone who was there beside me at Margot’s shows this past year. Fans were blessed with a multitude of memorable 2011 events--some firsts for their venues, itself hard to believe once you've seen the impressive list of venues Margot has played during her career as a professional musician. BlackRock Center for the Arts stands out in my mind as a particularly huge date on Margot's 2011 calendar, but you might have already guessed that from its vital signs: It was a full-length, sold-out Margot show on one of the newest, nicest, best-lit stages in the area. Margot was strikingly beautiful that night, uninhibitedly graceful, sounded particularly amazing in this great space, was able to present a show that was long enough to appropriately showcase the breadth of her amazing talent and was reluctantly bid adieu by standing ovation. An unexpected pleasure (first noticed by Brick) was seeing Margot's name up in lights on the venue's marquee! I was moved to try to share some of the excitement in my first blog of any sort, a Facebook note: Margot MacDonald @ Blackrock 2-17-11 Yes, it was still only February when that show occurred; so, Margot’s impressive year of important live concerts had barely begun!

  Margot found time to tour in 2011 with away dates in Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn, Philly and a
 return to New York City where she had previously wowed her audience at great live music club The Bitter End. This time she played Rockwood Music Hall, sharing a bill with such favorites as Jace Everett of “Bad Things” fame and addictively quirky Ali Eskandarian (pictured) of Iranian import band Yellow Dogs. In addition to taking pictures like the one of Ali illustrating this paragraph, I was moved to write my second blog in honor of this show as a contribution to NYC club scene chronicle The Pat’s District Blog. As dedicated as I am to DC venues, I really love the vibe of NYC's live music scene--especially when I can take my favorite artists with me! Frank Sinatra wasn't lying when he sang about NY, NY being the "city that never sleeps." Shows don't ever seem to wind down there, much less end. Time's one cruel trick this trip was to have Daylight Savings Time spring forward while I was there, robbing me of what would otherwise most certainly have been another precious hour of awesome live music. Margot, my camera bag is always packed; I'm hoping you can make time again soon to delight all your great NYC fans, as well as give some of your biggest fans here in DC an excellent excuse to explore that scene some more. I would also particularly love to see you play a future date at NYC's The Living Room; it just seems such a great place to showcase the amazing things you do!

  Yet another particularly memorable performance occurred at Arlington, VA's Lubber Run Amphitheater. This great outdoor venue had been newly renovated back to productive life just in time
for the 2011 concert season. There was something magical about the sound waves of Margot's enchanting voice mingling with the long rays of the setting sun, the show’s bubble-machine finale, and all the love in the air for Arlington's favorite daughter Margot MacDonald. I was once again only one of many photographers in the audience that evening and proud to have the photos I took displayed as an album on Margot's music page: Lubber Run Amphitheatre 2011 Margot participated in a ton of other great concert series and music festivals including Live! at Woodrow Wilson Plaza (held at the Ronald Reagan Building), the National Cherry Blossom Festival, National Freedom Festival and similar summer shows throughout the area and beyond.

  These are just a few highlights that come to mind. All Margot's shows are precious, and not being in the audience of a single one of them would make me uncomfortably curious about what I missed; so, I try not to let that happen too often. Also high on the must-see list are Margot's performances in the huge Bandhouse Gigs tribute productions at Strathmore Music Hall, Wolf Trap or wherever else they might be held. I don't have words to describe Margot's voice backed up by a full string section, but that's just one example of the surprises that can occur at these shows. It's the kind of experience you'll want to enjoy in person. Margot doesn't tend to add the songs she performs for this series to her live playlist; so, it'll be pretty much impossible to make up anything you miss here. This is video from Margot's most recent BandHouse Gigs performance, "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her"--part of their Simon & Garfunkel tribute concert:

  All the wonderfully entertaining shows at relaxing IOTA (like Margot’s much-blogged-about tag team with fellow Strathmore Artist in Residence Ted Garber, her participation there in Justin Trawick's The 9 Songwriters series, and once again, Margot & Friends) belong among the brightest highlights. There's nothing quite as rewarding as having your spirit lifted up by Margot's soaring soprano, followed by the chance to walk over to her merch table, tell her in your own words how much the experience meant to you and maybe have Margot autograph a CD or two to take with you.

  Margot has a special place in her heart for playing with her own band, but contrary to what even she might contend, there really is no such thing as a “small” Margot production. The venue hasn't been built yet that's too large to be filled to the brim with just Margot's amazing voice, particularly when multiplied by her loop pedal. Notice I said multiplied and not amplified. If there ever was an artist on the planet who could get along just fine without a microphone, it's Margot. A personal favorite, recurring girl & guitar (& loop pedal : ) gig is Strathmore Sunday Sounds Brunch which combines Margot's amazing music with a tantalizing meal within Strathmore's feng shui-rich space. Under-the-radar and private performances occurred all over the area, Richmond, and as far away as Boston—-more than a couple associated with photo shoots. When you see a professionally done photograph in which Margot appears to be performing, it’s because she actually is singing or playing guitar on location for the shoot. It’s an important reason why so many photographers who have shot Margot are also such big fans of her music.

  To tell the truth, precisely where Margot entertains us couldn't be less important. When we go to one of Margot's concerts, an involved production at a colossal venue isn't what we're coming to see. The opportunity to enjoy our Margot live is all we need no matter where that happens. Every now and then, however, when it occurs can be pretty special all by itself. The 2011 example that comes most readily to mind is Jammin Java where Margot hosted and performed at a SAW/BMI showcase on February 14, 2011. Yes, we got to spend Valentine's Day with Margot MacDonald! What could possibly be cooler or more special than that?

  Margot's YouTube playlist of her live performances is Live Shows: Margot MacDonald

1. New Margot MacDonald Music
  An original that often starts (well, okay; sometimes ends! : ) Margot's live shows "Colorblind" asks the question "Are you restless too?" Restless is a great word to describe DC music's most lovable overachiever. The resurgence of interest in Margot's ageless classic rock (mentioned in highlight #10) even as her creativity is exploding in exciting new directions hints at how to come to grips with the driving force in this woman's music. As fans, we delightedly assimilate the new as we continue to embrace what we love about what has gone before. Margot herself lives closer to the furnace where these embers of hyper creativity push her to do ever more amazing things for us. It's just one more reason why Margot's fans are so attached to her. Her music is a wild ride. If you don't hold on tight, you run the risk of missing something really special. Embracing the evolution of Margot's music is the best way to try to keep up to ensure you're able to fully appreciate and enjoy her innovative gifts. Being a Margot MacDonald fan is rewarding but not easy for anyone who isn't genuinely into great music. Her fans are much more likely to be called passionate than casual. Margot's music isn't a collection of elevator-destined background tunes you can cue and forget; it’s a reason to get very excited, and we do!

  During 2011, we heard much of Margot’s new music added to her live playlists, developed and refined, and finally settling into what will essentially be its ultimate recorded form. Verses were added. Phrases picked up dramatic pauses. Margot’s moan and other delicious sounds appeared in new places. Wonderfully unexpected things happened. Margot seldom plays a song precisely the same way twice in a row. She delights and teases us with the subtle changes she feels in a song on a particular night, incorporating or never repeating them again--one more reason never to miss a live show! In addition to bearing witness to her road tests of new treasures on stage, 2011 brought us the chance to participate even more directly. We could contribute to her Margot MacDonald & the Audio Conundrum fan-funding campaign via something as simple as pre-ordering her new album or as involved as becoming its executive producer! It's the awesome prospect of Margot's new music and the opportunity to participate fundamentally in its development that's been the salient highlight for me this past year. I've been listening to and loving Margot's music for a lot of years, but didn't dare dream of being able to play even a tiny role in its creation. This opportunity has made 2011 huge!

  A playlist containing live versions of many of Margot's new songs is the one she created for her Indiegogo campaign, Margot & the Audio Conundrum.

  Cut! ...and wrap! How did we do? Well, okay; my high school English teacher (Hi, Becky!) would probably advise me to split this up into at least two independent blogs--the one recapping Margot & Friends that started us off and then a separate one to cover my choices for Margot's 2011 highlights. She and others might make a case for spawning still more separate entries from a few of the numbered items themselves. Yes, the coming year-end report might include a separate, fully-illustrated greatest shows of 2012. My goal here though was simply to satisfy your curiosity mentioned in my intro, organize my own thoughts, and kick off an exciting New Year with my favorite person, that special artist I trust to supply the soundtrack to the life I love to live. I didn't want to stretch that out over multiple blog installments but rather get us all up to speed quickly and definitively so that we can step away from our computer and TV screens, get up, and GO! to the amazing new Margot MacDonald performances of 2012; see you there.

OK Go concert photo by Margot MacDonald. Other photos in this feature by Den Hollinden.

1 comment:

  1. What an informative & fully detailed article. I wish I'd been there with my HD camcorder, and your photos here are amazing quality. The ornaments are gorgeous one of a kind. Looking forward to Margot for 2012 :)