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

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