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Margot MacDonald: A Modest Introduction

-Photo by Adrie Smith

I first heard Margot MacDonald singing entirely by accident. I was walking through the Reston Town Center during one festival or another - who can keep track of how many festivals are held there? In the distance, I heard the familiar heartbeat rhythm from my days of programming computers while listening to Massive Attack records on headphones. Someone was covering "Teardrop" in a semi-a-capella fashion, apparently with the aid of some digital loops. I pushed through crowds of suburbanites to work my way closer to the heartbeat. When I finally found the makeshift stage setup, I was surprised to find a petite red-headed teenage girl absolutely wailing the lyrics by herself in perfect harmony with her own voice, which was pulsing through the loop pedal on the ground. There were at least three photographers with expensive, telephoto rigs photographing her performance as if this Reston festival were Lollapalooza.

I've found this to be the curious paradox of Margot MacDonald. On one hand, she has been massively successful in her music career, especially considering she is only 19 years old. She began singing with the Washington National Opera when she was 10 and was recording her first album with a Grammy-nominated producer by age 12. She was the 2010 Washington Area Music Award "Artist of the Year", her seventh "Wammie" award to date. And yet, to my knowledge, as of this publication, she is yet unsigned.

To be fair, MacDonald wasn't interviewed for this piece, and maybe she isn't looking to be signed right now. To be even fairer, she is extensively involved with non-profit organizations and is constantly playing out at these local festivals and seems nothing short of thrilled to do so. And to be beyond fair, she has graced stages no less prestigious than the 9:30 Club and even the Kennedy Center itself and doesn't have a thing left to prove to anybody. But, honestly, it's hard to hear a voice so refined, so bold, so versatile, and so fresh being showcased at a quaint, town festival and not have that old "Piano Man" thought, "Girl, what are you doin' here?"

I feel like I'm sounding negative, so let me clarify my stance: Margot MacDonald is an absolutely bad-ass singer. And I am nothing if not a sucker for her obsession with (and mastery of) the loop pedal she's become so associated with. And, I love that I can find her singing her heart out at a cute little festival just as hard as she would on a huge stage. She writes great original songs and has an arsenal of unique, gutsy covers, like Imogen Heap's "Just for Now." To me, the detached observer, it seems like you can almost see her true artistic soul and edginess in the way she plays those cover songs than even in her own original music. But, there's no doubt that her original songwriting is moving rapidly in a direction that is unmistakably her own and in a direction that really highlights her unstoppably strong voice that seemingly is unbounded by range limitations.

Margot is definitely an artist to watch, and I suspect we've only seen the tip of the iceberg that is her music career. And, speaking of watching her, why not check her out while she's still playing local festivals? Her next appearance is Friday, July 15, at the Wheaton TGIF Series.




Doomed To Obscurity Readying to Be Known at KFN July 10

Doomed To Obscurity is a political punk band that creates hard hitting melodies complimented by catchy, informative lyrics sure to lay you out while standing over you and keeping your interest in their message. With a new lineup since 2010, each member brings sounds from their former bands to build a raw garage rock feel. Doomed To Obscurity will be performing tonight at Kung Fu Necktie with Philly hardcore act, The Thirteen, and founding member of the nineties rock band The Figgs, Pete Donnelly, who is currently playing bass with Soul Asylum and NRBQ and has collaborated in the studio with members of Amos Lee’s band “always steady” Freddy Berman and Zack Djanikian as well as Early Ape’s Nate Rylan and Adam Winokur for his upcoming album “When You Come Home” due out this August. (BTW: For all you meat eaters, KFN will be firing up the grill every Sunday from 4 - 8pm while the weather is still nice.) Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 8pm, $7, 21+ - Emma Branson

Adam & Dave's Bloodline Flip On The Lights at North Star Bar July 9

Adam & Dave’s Bloodline's latest EP, Easy Enough, is quite dapper. Released last month, the four-track offering from the Philly five-piece is a sunny disposition of power-pop whimsy and folk-laden psych throwbacks (listen to it HERE). Tonight, they'll put their always-sharp sound on display at North Star Bar, nicely countering locals Fang Fang's earnest, gritty, reverb-heavy garage-punk and Giant Mind's abrasive but spellbinding electro alt-pop. Take that in with the rap-punk riot that is New York's Notorious MSG, and you have a night of strange beautiful bedfellows. North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St., 9pm, $10, 21+ - Annamarya Scaccia

Turn Off The Light by adam & dave's bloodline


The Extraordinaires Warms Your Heart at RUBA Hall July 9

Local charmers the Extraordinaires’ continue to churn out quasi-acoustic anthems comprised of clever diction and awash in melody. Formed in 2004, this five-piece sensation has managed to grab the attention of NPR in addition to local fans by belting out fun-loving songs like “Hi-five Cactus,” and heartwarming swooners like “Eloise the Eloquent.” Somewhere between the DIY feel of Danger Danger headliners and the lo-fi warmth of acts like Love Language, the Extraordinaries’ discography, in addition to their live performance, is dynamic and tremendously fun. That, plus the promise of Philly act Glitter’s fast-paced beats like “Hold Me Tight," and beachy tracks like “Raildroad Tracks” and “Bottle of Vodka,” will undoubtedly complement the Extraordinaries audible antics tonight at RUBA Hall, where they'll play alongside Brooklyn outfit Real Estate’s dreamy sundrenched lo-fi and jangly riffs. Yea, we're definitely feeling the summer love. RUBA Hall, 414 Green St., 8pm, $10, All Ages - Diance Potts


Joe Hardcore's B-Day Bash and Agitator Record Release Party at BSM July 9

Tonight’s show at Broad Street Ministry maybe one of biggest Philly hardcore events this summer, prior to the mecca of This Is Hardcore Fest 2011 in August. Starting the night off is a pre-show BBQ birthday bash for This Is Hardcore Fest creator, and all-around Philly hardcore legend Joe Hardcore. Hardcore has been a prominent figure in his hometown scene since the ‘90s, booking shows and fronting his own band, Punishment. So be sure to swing by early for two hours of great vegetarian barbecure, plus some grub for the meat eaters, to celebrate the birth of a man who has, and continues to do so much for hardcore music in Philly. But the party doesn't end there--after the BBQ, local outfits Agitator and Beware (new straight-edge act featuring members of Mother of Mercy) will demolish the stage with their crushing anthems. Also serving as a record release party for Agitator's latest Six Feet Under Records 7-inch Walls Closing In (featuring guest vox from birthday boy Joe Hardcore, and scene vet Justin Ogden), the four-piece is bound to pummel the crowd with their combo of aggressive straight edge punk and heavy, metal-influenced guitar riffage. This is how you celebrate all things hardcore in Philly. Broad Street Ministry, 315 S. Broad Street, BBQ at 5pm/Show at 7pm, $10, All Ages - Dan Brightcliffe


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