Veronica Klaus

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Veronica Klaus

Martuni’s Piano Bar, San Francisco, CA, September 1, 2019

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Veronica Klaus

I last reviewed the award-winning chanteuse Veronica Klaus in April 2015 right before her bold decision to leave San Francisco after a 30-year run for a new life in quaint Sharon Springs, NY. She returned for a sold-out second annual limited engagement at the extremely intimate Martuni’s Piano Bar, and I can report that nothing has changed, which is a very, very good thing. Klaus remains one of the premiere song stylists around today, a chief interpreter of the long-lost but always cherished female vocalists that is timeless and becomes a thing of beauty in VK’s satin elbow-length gloved hands.

Beautiful love songs of all variety filled her eclectic set: her opener of 1931’s “All of Me” (Gerald Marks/Seymour Simons), the suggestive “Somebody Touched Me,” and Buddy Johnson’s lovely “Save Your Love for Me.” Klaus can work a ballad like the best, milking the emotions out of the lyric and drawing attention to her delivery, enhanced by her 1940s-style and classic phrasing. Accompanied by her long-time collaborator Tammy Hall on piano, Daniel Fabricant on bass, and Daria Johnson on drums, Klaus swings “What a Difference a Day Made,” starting slow but ramping up the rhythm in a rhumba style.

Bernice Petkere’s stylish noir tune, 1933’s “Close Your Eyes,” and 1942’s “Trav’lin Light,” by Trummy Young and Jimmy Mundy with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, illustrate her love of the ballad and remind us of the golden age of songwriting that will not be lost as long as VK is around. Her arrangement of Smokey Robinson’s “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” employs a slower tempo than was used on the original Marvelettes release, and is a joy.

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Klaus, who re-invented herself as “vintage” takes Joni Mitchell’s 1969 folk hit “Both Sides Now” and weaves her spell all over it; her breathy, slighty mid-western twang massaging Joni’s haunting lyrics of self-awareness and discovery into her own inimitable style.The first of two encores was Ruth Etting’s 1928 hit “Love Me or Leave Me” (Gus Kahn/Walter Donaldson) and was a typical Klaus upbeat arrangement, making the original ballad into a swing statement.

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Leave her? Never! Love her? Yes!

Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.