Too often, live albums are more tour souvenirs than great listening experiences -- Stop Making Sense, Live at the Apollo and Kick Out the Jams are the kind of exceptions that prove the rule. (In its own category entirely: Frampton Comes Alive.) So it's a bold move when a young R&B singer sets out to cut an album of all-new material in front of a live theater audience.
Pittsburgh native Margot B., now based in New York, heads home this weekend to cut her live album at The New Hazlett Theater, this Fri., Aug. 20. Doors open at 7 p.m., and late-comers won't be admitted after 8 p.m., when the show and recording start.
"I wanted to show something different while bringing something old-school back," says Margot via phone. She cites Lauryn Hill's MTV Unplugged and Erykah Badu's latest album as inspirations, but her main reason for the live album is confidence in her own considerable vocal chops. "I just know that I can do it, so why not?"
After releasing the club-friendly Two Thousand Mine last year, Margot hit the road with Jason Mraz, and realized she missed singing with a live band. "There's nothing like being onstage with seven or eight people backing you," she says. Her brand-new material is "geared toward a neo-soul funk," she says.
Margot first performed at the Hazlett this May, at a songwriters' series hosted by Rick Witkowski and Joe Grushecky, and was impressed by the positive attitudes of the staff. "They were excited about the show, they were excited about what they were going to see," she says.
While tracking an album in a night might seem easier than laboring for weeks or months in a recording studio, Margot says "it might be a little bit harder." Coordinating the production, her expanded band from New York and her Seattle-based producer has proved "a little more than I anticipated," she says.
"It's definitely not a documentation, it's like reality TV," she says. And having the participation and energy of a live audience to feed off of "means more to me than they even imagine."
The live album is just the tip of Margot's recent efforts, though -- she's been cast in a TV pilot, and the morning after tracking her album, she flies back to New York to begin shooting. And her older, club-oriented tracks have recently taken on a new life: French label Summits Records will be releasing dance and house remixes of Two Thousand Mine, which Margot plans to support with a short European tour for the fall.
For show details and tickets, visit www.margotb.com.