Sunday, April 8, 2012

Catching Up with MARGOT MacDONALD

Prize Easter egg...or egg-shaker abuse of superstar talent?

  I'm a bit surprised to be back with you again so soon. I normally don’t like updating the blog unless I have some big news, a creative presentation [like pretty new pictures : ], or at least something otherwise at least mildly entertaining to share. When I do write, however, I like to catch you up on whatever else has been going on-—particularly what’s happened since the last time we got together with emphasis on anything breaking at the moment. I know I’m not your only source of music news, but I may very well be your only way to get this unique perspective. Also, forgive me for pointing out that people on the Internet tend to be more than creatively lazy and often need to have things distilled & highlighted for them, even though they could dig up the same info themselves without too awfully much effort! Once I do start writing, I’m always surprised at how much actually has happened during the time “nothing really happened”! That was the situation this time around as I feverishly worked to add relavent current events to the Surviving the Facebook Facelift blog. Rather than kill myself or make you wait, I decided it was a better plan to resolve to fine-tune my way of working a bit, publish that previous blog as is, catch you up in a fresh future entry, and then see where we need to go from there. If you have ideas, feel free to share. As for the planned update, this is it.

  Last time we got caught up like this was Another YEAR with MARGOT MacDONALD; so, I guess
Margot MacDonald, Artist of the Year
I should start the follow-up from there. Back then, we were wishing our superstar luck at the Wammies, and Margot MacDonald is indeed our Artist of the Year for the second year in a row! Join me in congratulating her if you haven’t already done that on your own. I also promised then to let you know when voting started for the special Fan's Choice Wammie even non-WAMA-members were allowed to vote on. I really was watching for the announcement that voting was open, but I assumed there would be a separate email to let members know. There was none. I was super busy around that time, voting was announced in the regular WAMA member newsletter (& I believe on the WAMA website) instead of a special email announcement, I didn't read the newsletter, I missed it--my bad. It was just one of those at-the-bus-station-when-my-ship-came-in kinds of things, and I know I let both Margot and you guys down. : ( I am truly sorry and will try to do better next year. There's no time to dwell on that though, because there's so much more going on right now!

  One of if not the biggest excitement last time was the prospect of a new Margot MacDonald album, and Margot continues to work long & hard on that. Few things that could possibly happen are cooler than anticipating fresh studio cuts of Margot MacDonald music and we can’t wait to hear them, but the downside is missing our Margot dearly while she works. This is ultimate recluse time for her with few live shows or related events to give us face time. In addition to devoting countless hours to the studio (both before & since), Margot took her second major break from recording (the first was to plan, organize, rehearse, setup & execute her holiday show back in December). Margot recently traveled to
Photo by Listen Local First
SXSW (read South by Southwest), a huge, annual, internationally-famous music conference in Austin, TX. The pictures from her showcase performances making their way back to DC were precious. Last time I checked, there was still a photo from her Casa Chapala show up on Margot's Facebook music page. Another was tweeted to us thanks to our friends at Listen Local First, this great shot of Margot performing in Austin from their Mobile Music venue Margot introduced us to in her latest edition of Margot’s High Notes. As a result of her participation in the showcase, I got to know a great member of DC's promoter community, Dave Mann. I enjoyed promoting Margot's Austin shows so much Dave invited me to join his promo team for the rest of his Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie series there. That was a ton of fun, and I got to tweet up some great bands from DC, NYC & around the world. I even made some new friends among fans attending the showcases. The most amusing encounter was the guy I helped out via Twitter. He was at Casa Chapala in downtown Austin & objected to the music the DJ was playing between sets. I agreed that sometimes the best thing a DJ can do between showcase artists is allow for a little ear rest. Things were looking pretty unanimous; so, Dave talked to the DJ & made it happen. The fan then tweeted back to me that he'd be happy to buy me a beer if I would let him know where I was standing. We both had a good laugh at the fact that I was actually "standing" back home in DC! : ] I was also honored by two different tweet-tallying organizations as one of the top tweeters from SXSW, even though I physically didn't attend at all! It's a tribute to technology and the closeness of our DC music fam that we can support our stars remotely, regardless of where in the world they perform.

  This time away from Margot, combined with an increasingly warm/fuzzy with her growing base of fans, has brought home some important lessons for me. Biggies include how lucky we are to have Margot MacDonald with us here in the area and how much time & effort she really does devote to us and to making her amazing music happen. When much more than a couple of weeks go by without a live concert, I start to feel how much we all need our Margot fix. People generally don’t come out & say, “God, I miss Margot MacDonald!” but the message is pretty much precisely that clear: “Hey, is there a show this Friday?” “Have you heard if Margot’s playing at the…this year?” “I’ve got people visiting, and they want to go see a Margot show 'cause they've heard so much about her but never been; is there anything coming up?” A fairly new but increasingly common trend is the opportunity to share directly with those fans who have never met Margot or even seen her perform live, including her growing, glowingly enthusiastic group in the UK. They’re always eager for the next photo set, curious about the particulars of the shows in Margot’s online videos or just speculating about how awesome it would be to "one day" get the chance to see her live. It’s a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, again, it emphasizes what a great gift Margot’s presence here in the area is to us in DC (and how awful it is to miss even one show); on the other, it can make me feel pretty selfish for crying about doing just that! [Either way, infinite thanks to you guys for always offering a sympathetic shoulder to cry on by reading the Denuine blog. : ]


  Speaking of live shows, there are [quite conveniently : ] some new dates popping up on
Sidewalk Cafe / Photo by Yun Cee Ng
Margot’s event calendar. To start off the post-Austin portion of her schedule, Margot will be back this month--this week actually (well, okay, TONIGHT! : )--to entertain her New York City fans at Sidewalk Cafe, dubbed "the last live music venue on Avenue A." The show is this Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 from 7:30 to 8:30PM, and the lucky neighborhood this time around is East Village. If you're going to be anywhere near the city THIS evening, don't miss this show. You can RSVP for this latest date in Margot's periodically ongoing New York City adventure at the official Facebook event. Try not to be late to this performance, because live music shows at Sidewalk Cafe are famously punctual. Again, if you're a NYC music fan who's never seen Margot MacDonald perform live before, you're in for a thrilling experience; do not miss this opportunity. Live music & comedy shows at this venue are all ages & it's a great place to grab a burger & fries--a cold beer too if that's part of your evening plan. The musical instruments hanging all over the place have been said to give the place a Hard Rock Café vibe; so, if you've ever been entertained by Margot at one of her frequent DC Hard Rock Café performances, you should feel right at home here tonight!

  If you can make it here to Sidewalk Cafe tonight, please do stick around after Margot's
Ace Elijah
performance for a special treat from an artist who seems to be a favorite & at home all over the area, whether it's NYC, DC or Richmond. Ace Elijah Burgess will take over the same venue Sidewalk Cafe after Margot's set to host his 7 Songwriter showcase. Yes, there really are 7; count them: Adam Day, Matt Sucich, Amy Vachal, Ace Elijah, Jessica Carvo, Jon D'Angelo & Jonathan DePaso. Some of you will remember Ace as Margot's guest at her Songwriters' Association of Washington (SAW) Young Songwriter Showcase at Ebenezers Coffeehouse. As you can see by the list, Ace will also perform. He's right in the middle, going on at 10PM. Ace has a mellow, comforting baritone that makes his performances particularly memorable. If you're coming to Sidewalk Cafe tonight to see or perform in Ace's songwriter showcase, get there early enough (7:30PM) so that you can enjoy Margot MacDonald's performance as well. And again, If you're coming to see Margot MacDonald tonight, please stick around for Ace's great showcase. Both artists will appreciate it, and if that's not thanks enough, you'll have an awesome night of music to show for your good deed. Margot & Ace have separate events on Facebook; so, be sure to sign up for both. Here are the links:

  1. RSVP to Margot MacDonald's TONIGHT! Margot at Sidewalk Cafe NYC

  2. RSVP for Ace Elijah's 7 songwriters live @ Sidewalk.

  June is a huge month for Margot MacDonald shows with 2012 occurrences of some of the most
popular annually recurring performances on her calendar. This great month of entertainment starts appropriately on June 1st when, for a twist on Margot traveling to NYC for a show, NYC artist Anna Dagmar comes to visit Margot as they join forces at Ebenezers Coffeehouse for the release of Anna's Satellite CD. Although itself one of the very best places in DC to experience live music, this choice of venue has caused a bit of confusion among fans familiar with Margot's recurring showcase at the same venue for SAW. This special date with Anna has absolutely nothing to do with the regular SAW event. This is rather the official DC date of Anna’s CD release. Anna is a fellow Margot fan, a good friend to us both, and herself a compelling artist; so, don't miss this great show. DC music fans know Anna as a frequent major prize winner at SAW's Mid-Atlantic Song Contest (SAW-MASC). Rounding out the lineup this night will be Gideon Grove, best known (in this blog at least) for his duet with Margot at her Margot & Friends holiday show at IOTA Club & Café. More detailed information about this show is available on the Ebenezers Coffeehouse events site. You can RSVP at the official Satellite CD Release Facebook event.

  Things only get more awesome from there, as we head into the spring/summer season of Margot's
Margot MacDonald's huge talent seems particularly at home on the area's bigger stages.
full-length shows fans anticipate each year. Common knowledge among Margot connoisseurs is the fact that despite her young age, Margot MacDonald is a veteran songwriter & seasoned performer. Her repertoire is huge, spanning years & genres. During her many activities in support of DC's music community, Margot rarely hosts a showcase without also sharing a taste of her music, but her performances in those situations comprise little more than a teaser, an appetizer stoking a hunger that can only be fully satisfied by an awesome full-length show. These single-band headliner appearances are presented in bigger venues, are longer and honestly the only way to experience the breadth of this artist's talent in all its many forms—-the chance to meet or renew acquaintance with Margot the loopist, the pianist, the guitarist, and perhaps most importantly of all, the only way to sit down to a delicious full meal of her hypnotic vocals!

  The first of these huge shows is scheduled for Saturday, June 9th, 2012 at 7:30PM in Arlington, VA's spacious Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre. Encore Presents: Margot MacDonald is the must-see show your friends will be talking about through next year, and tickets are on sale right now. You can purchase them directly from Encore. You can also call 703-548-1154 for more information, check out the event on Margot's band page or read the great article about the show in the Clarendon Patch. I've personally been so excited about this show I bought my ticket the very first day they went on sale. Don't forget to RSVP for this awesome show at Encore's official Facebook event, Encore Presents: Margot MacDonald! If you can make it; I'll definitely see you there!

  It's still quite early in the season and new shows are added all the time (watch the event section of Margot's band page for her frequent updates [I'm actually frequently checking myself while I write this, because I'm sure a new show will be announced to date this blog the second I publish it! ; ]), but the final future date currently on Margot's summer schedule is another exciting episode of her amazing Lubber Run Amphitheater show June 29th at 7:00PM. LRA was rescued from ruin last year just in time for a long-overdue summer season of memorable acts--including Margot MacDonald. This year should be every bit as exciting. Many new Margot fans I've talked to lately have been fans precisely since experiencing her via last year's edition of this show. LRA's event schedule on their website is still (at this writing) displaying the 2011 schedule, but there's probably a better than average chance the 2012 schedule will replace it (at the same link) once the new season is announced. [UPDATE: I just checked the LRA event schedule link I gave you last sentence, and it's currently down. I'm thinking this may be a sign the new schedule will be up soon, but I wanted to give you a couple of additional links just in case. Good, permanent links for related information once it's announced will be the Lubber Run Amphitheater Main Page & Arlington Arts--both also excellent sources of information on some of the best happenings in the DC area.] In the meantime, you can refer to Margot's band page event listing. NEW! You can now RSVP for Margot MacDonald: Lubber Run Amphitheater 2012 Summer Concert Series here! This is another show I wouldn't miss for the world; hope you feel the same way! As we strive to stay patient awaiting this show, we can see photos from that awesome last season & more in Margot's live show album on Facebook.

  Once again, the best way to keep abreast of Margot's shows is to check her band page events frequently. The summer festival season is always exciting & fast approaching, and as Margot's new album nears completion, things will only get hotter with release-related events. It'll be our chance to make up for lost time with our favorite person & share her joy at finally having a record that truly reflects who she is as an artist--good stuff for Margot & all of us who love her.

  Again, along with a convenient opportunity to wish you guys a happy Easter, my purpose here has been to catch you up on recent DC music happenings. For me, great DC music & Margot MacDonald really can't be separated, but cool things are going on with some other great friends you'll want to check out as well. These are in no particular order:

  One of my favorite DC bands (other than, of course, Margot MacDonald Band & Honor by August) is Sing Me Insomnia. They have a polished pop/rock sound that, like the other musicians featured in this blog, makes them more globally significant than might generally be expected of local talent. They take the "boy band" thing to a new level of coolness to where none of us need to make excuses for listening, because, well, yeah, they ARE that cool! They have many great originals, but their latest accomplishment is a great new cover of Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend"--check it out!

  Some of you will remember Derek Evry as one of the leads playing hot guitar at Margot & Friends
Derek Evry
last December, others as "that guy who sings a duet with Margot on touching "Tonight Our History Will End," to still others, he's the guy who never seems to leave favorite venue IOTA Club & Café. The more complete story, however, is that Derek is a compelling DC singer/songwriter with a distinctive biting vocal sound backed up by his own expert guitar work. Derek has just updated his collection of published CDs by releasing a new EP, Wait for you. This set of cuts is now available on iTunes. I spoke with one of Derek's people the other day about it, and he was extremely excited. Sadly, we'll have to wait until the release of the corresponding full album to get our hands on the studio version of "Tonight Our History Will End," but the EP will be a nice consolation in the meantime.

  If you've been following this blog for any length of time you know that as we honor fans, the finest musicians in DC & beyond (including our beloved Margot), our favorite venues big & small, and the music/music scene that brings us all together, we're careful to remember our fellow bloggers. Yes, there are more than a few of us out there, but rather than compete for territory, I think we're all smart enough to realize how much territory there is to go around. Some of us are foodies. Others cover photography. Still others advise about things to do in DC--specialized even to "soulful" things to do in DC by blogger buddy Rohan! Some of us even refuse to specialize at all, blogging about whatever suits our fancy at any given time, either globally in DC, NYC or a specific neighborhood. Even looking just at music, for every artist who's covered the way Margot is covered here, there are probably a dozen perfectly awesome artists who aren't on a single blogger's radar. I was talking to great DC artist, sweet lady & treasured friend Carey Creed the other day, and she commented, "Den, every artist should have one of you!" Yeah, there are plenty rock stars to go around. If you ever get the urge to blog, you'll easily find one of your own to adopt! rather than compete, we work hard to support each other.

  A blogger who has held a particularly special place in my heart since I've been working at becoming more active myself has been Amy, or @ClarendonCultur. Amy made a huge splash in my online life when she seemed to be interested in all the same things I was--my favorite artist, favorite venue AND my favorite Arlington neighborhood! Amy is also (I remember fondly) the first Clarendon blogger to follow @Denuine on Twitter. Yes, Amy has left us in the Clarendon space but the ending is happier than my tone so far might suggest. She's now covering an exciting new area of the DC-area space, Bethesda, MD via her new @Bethesdan! Amy, thanks for being such a delightful ally in the quest to keep the DC area safe for art & music. I wish you all the best of luck with your new Bethesda-focused blog and will hold you to your promise not to be a stranger at Margot's shows, at IOTA or around Clarendon! : ]

  Speaking of bloggers, I'd also like to welcome Philippa Hughes @PinkLineProject to the Margot blogger fam via her recent post of An amazing rendition of Massive Attack's "Teardrop". Phillippa is a long-time Facebook friend, but I wasn't fully aware of her important work promoting the area's arts. Philippa, I'm looking forward to working with you & Pink Line Project as we mutually support DC music in the future!

  I believe that about does it for this installment. While I'm being all mushy & appreciative, thanks to all of you who read the Denuine blog regularly. If this is your first time, welcome! Again, a very happy Easter to each one of you. Speaking of Easter, I'd like to end by re-sharing one of my very favorite Easter-related images. Coincidentally, it's also one of my favorite photos of Margot. Yeah, it's the one below of Margot MacDonald as The Stern Bunny--such an awesome photograph she shared with us via Twitter one Easter past. It makes me smile every time I see it and reminds me what a delightful, creative person Margot is. It's almost a paradox that someone this amazing at creating & presenting world-class music can without blinking become the "just Margot" who refuses to take herself too seriously. Enjoy your day and please remember to support local music & the artists who make it. They ask so very little of us--often just the chance to entertain us--yet supporting them just that tiny bit helps so much and literally means the world to them.
Margot MacDonald as The Stern Bunny

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Surviving the Facebook Facelift

Completed Denuine Facebook cover photo featuring Margot MacDonald & Michael Pearsall
  When Facebook announced they were changing the format of pages--including Denuine, I wasn't a happy camper. I didn't have a lot of experience with the new "timeline" and what I did have was all bad. My favorite way of expressing my dislike of it was that if I hit you up on Facebook I'm probably more interested in seeing if you might be free for lunch today than to find out what you actually had for lunch two years ago. My view didn't seem the least bit unique either. Whereas some of my posts about perfectly wonderful live music shows get as few as two enthusiastic responses, bashing the timeline was guaranteed to bring scores, including people I hadn't texted with in years. The only person I knew who seemed to like it at all was my contact for awesome band Sing Me Insomnia, bassist Wes Beale, who was using it to relive precious beginnings with his girlfriend. Still, I thought, can't Facebook just leave the non-Wes rest of us alone? I was hoping it was all just a cruel joke with a last-minute popup proclaiming, "Hey, you really didn't think we were going to pimp your page like that, did you? April Fool's!"

  No cigar. In place of that popup, I awoke the morning of the 31st to find a decimated Denuine. I felt like one of the tornado survivors too often in the news lately, wandering around, looking for something familiar I could pick up & hug to cut through some of the numbness of losing my home and provide a clue to how to begin to rebuild it. The most obvious new feature was a big "drink me" button begging me to upload my "cover photo" to a new gaping hole sitting on real estate where important content had been the night before, as if I was supposed to know what a cover photo was and have one ready to share. Okay, I know photos; just give me the specs, and I'll start to think about this. I did a quick "Facebook timeline" Google search & found their video on the subject. I was impressed they were actually sharing some documentation. Then I watched the movie & discovered it's a story about some guy named Andy who grows up, gets a FB page, gets lucky and himself has a kid. (I'm guessing the daughter that's born signs up for a Facebook profile of her own & starts the cycle all over again to prove the sustainability of the business model.) The video made the purpose of Facebook profiles very clear, but I still had no specs & no clue to how to get my music page back. Finally mustering the courage to click that big button, I was rewarded with what I wanted to know in the form of a suggestion: To get the best quality image and fastest load times for your Page, upload an sRGB JPG file that's 851 pixels wide, 315 pixels tall and less than 100 kilobytes. Thank you! I wanted to ask why Andy couldn't have told me that himself, but I guess he had better things to do. I'm hoping whoever slipped that helpful note into the site code doesn't get fired for being out of touch with corporate culture.

  Hmmm, 851x315 pixels--that's one flat, wide image! It's more of a mural really and not something likely to be spit out by a 35mm-based camera (DX or FX, film or no film) without some serious
Even playing down & dirty like Jonny Grave fails
to guarantee a successfully horizontal cover image!
panoramic stitching. That's probably the reason so many of the ones I've seen so far are sunsets or similar landscape photos. The only common snapshots I can think of that might fit the format are the ones your friends take of you when you pass out somewhere interesting after a rough night of partying. Most people don't otherwise get that horizontal--at least not in public. My pictures are primarily of decidedly vertical rock stars; so, I wasn't getting a lot of ideas. I've seen Margot MacDonald drop to her knees to punctuate particularly poignant passages & photographed Jonny Grave playing excellent Blues guitar with his back closer to the ground than I would attempt with any reasonable hope of getting back up again, but even either of those photos would have been much too vertical to work here. Yes, I do have a wide-angle lens, but that 24mm only recently joined my arsenal. Even then, I use it mostly to get shots of an entire band when I'm at a venue that's too crowded for me to simply take a few steps backwards. Rather than shooting wide, I'm usually just trying to get a usable shot in spite of being too close to the action.

  I finally remembered one of the few situations where I actually do shoot landscapes--summer visits to the beach at Ocean City, MD where I usually go to recharge my batteries after all the spring & winter shows. My
Lightning strikes twice in Ocean City, MD
latest trip's timing turned out to be inopportune for several reasons. First of all, Margot was invited last minute to gig at IOTA, and I wasn't going to be there to photograph her. Then out on the water where I normally find wonderfully colorful sunrises to capture, was the biggest ocean storm I had ever seen! Of the photos I shot that night, my favorite was the one in which I captured not one but two simultaneous lightning strikes. Not only did they have the good sense to hit at precisely the same moment but also managed to position themselves in strict obedience to the rule of thirds! Even more helpful in terms of cover image proportions, the sky above the clouds discharging themselves and the ocean below them were nearly perfect (ffffff) black. To give you an idea of the composition's fit, I cropped it to my liking (cutting black pixels from top and bottom), shrunk the image proportionally to 851 pixels wide and then measured it to see how much additional canvas I would need to trim from the top & bottom to get it to 315 pixels tall. As it turned out, I only needed to reduce 4 more pixels total--2 from top/2 from bottom! My plan up until this point was simple step-1 triage to undo as much of Facebook's damage to my page as I could immediately & to be followed by longer term tweaking as time and inspiration allowed; so, I uploaded the "finished" photo to Facebook & christened it tentatively complete.

  Even though I was warming a bit, both to my prospects for actually succeeding at doing this as well as to my nascent design, I was still by any definition far from finished. Yes, I had proven myself cooler than the Facebook timeline equivalent to Twitter eggs with no cover image, but I was still only slightly cooler than those who had simply given up and posted some pretty scenery from a recent vacation. That's basically what I had done, and my only real advantage here was not being smart enough to read a weather report before heading to the beach. Ocean City, MD has precious little to do with Washington, DC music--lightning or no lightning. Still, there was something in those arcs of electrical energy that captured my imagination. It's maybe the closest force in nature to what I feel while listening to live music. Maybe this heavenly battle scene could be salvaged by something as simple as some Titans--only this time ones awesome enough not to get their butts kicked by Zeus & his peepz. Maybe all I needed to do was to get Margot MacDonald amazing!

Margot MacDonald

  I needed to look no further than my favorite from Margot's BlackRock concert last year. The photo isn't a particularly good capture of her beautiful face, but the positioning of her arms,
Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam
hands & fingers is so graceful it puts her in a league with (& in my opinion a decisive winner over) Michelangelo’s models for his The Creation of Adam Sistine Chapel painting. Don't take my word for it, check it out; comments welcome below. Regardless, if my heavenly battle needed a goddess, I now had one. Luck was with me once again, for when I selected her off the original background (conveniently black at the default "as shot" exposure) & pasted her into my sky, her size was perfect. Appropriately, the being who supplies so much of the lightning I experience in the venues of DC & NYC, looked very much at home in my heaven as well. The image was also working well with my other inspiration. I've always liked Bollywood movie posters with their colorful, dramatically positioned characters; I was feeling something along those lines here as well. Following the rule of thirds (as I mentioned earlier), the bolts divided my photograph into three sections. The first third would be an appropriately empty backdrop for my Denuine U47 microphone logo on the left-hand side of the Facebook page. The third third would be lovely Margot. That left an empty middle section to fill. I needed one more DC music superstar--rock god a plus.

  The next name to come to mind was Michael Pearsall, dashing lead singer for favorite DC band Honor by August, one of (if not THE) best bands in the region with a superb repertoire of songs spread over
Honor by August's Michael Pearsall at Artisphere
several must-have CDs. If you hear these guys once, you'll buy their entire collection of recorded music. (This from someone who did precisely that the first time I heard them!) They're also one of my favorite bands to photograph, because these guys all look like rock stars. The night I took this picture, Michael was performing some of his songs at an intimate singer/songwriter event at Rosslyn's Artisphere. There were some harsh red-orange lights on the performers; so, I started playing with the white balance in camera until I got a natural skin tone. At that setting, Artisphere's distinctive dome glowed a deep midnight blue, very much reminiscent of the night sky. Moreover, Michael's eyes were really wide in the photo, suggesting that edgy ion-charged feeling when lightening is crashing around us. I picked him off the blue background and pasted him in place next to Margot--again, no re-sizing required! Things were really looking promising!

  All the basic elements in place, I went to work making them look like they belonged together. Normally, I want my subject to pop out of the picture, really not that difficult with models like Margot & Michael, but this time around, I was going for something a bit more subdued. I'm thinking a cover image should get & hold some attention (much like the cover of a book) but it's really the content on the page that should immediately take over from it; so, I didn't want anything too flashy or distracting. Also, unlike the items posted below it on the page, this image won't change constantly; so, it should be interesting & pleasant enough not to get boring or tiring longer term. This really isn't a "how to" & I don't want to bore non-geeks too much, but some of the things I did to help the elements blend were to apply lighting effects to simulate illumination from the lightning, adjust the curves (highlights especially) in the blue direction, decrease the exposure, adjust Margot & Michael's skin tones to match each other, apply some masks (mostly with brushes and gradients) to make the rock stars blend smoothly into the picture, & finally decrease their opacity a tiny bit for the same reason. At one point during the editing, I was trying to erase the black horizontal boom you can see pictured from Michael's microphone by painting over it in the layer mask, but it wasn't budging. I laughed to realize what I was trying to erase was actually a thick black storm cloud in the identical position in the background (sky) layer!

  I finally had a completed cover image I think does the best job I can of communicating the ion-laden excitement of live music, featuring two of my very favorite artists--not bad for the first full day of mandatory Facebook page timelines! I was in fact so inspired by the new design, I used it as the pattern for redesigning Denuine Twitter. The thing I didn't anticipate was that on the same day I created all of the above & put it in place, I would find myself blogging about the experience as well. To complete this third prong of activity, I'll leave you with a performance that gives me goose bumps. It'll also serve as a good introduction to anyone unfamiliar with the music of either of these two awesome featured artists. (Don't stop here; you're in for a ton of amazing music!) The show captured in this video was a special night at DC's 9:30 Club with Honor by August performing to a packed house. Margot MacDonald joined HBA's Michael Pearsall on stage to sing a duet with him on "Johnny (Pass Me Another One)"--one of the band's signature songs. There was lightning in the 9:30 Club that night, precisely the kind of lightning I want to share with each one of you on Denuine!