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Although we still have 12 days to go before it’s officially autumn, the signs are all there, and try as I might, they’re impossible to deny. It began innocently enough, with my first “Woolly Bear” sighting of the season.
“Uh oh,” I said to the dog, who was skipping around the brown-and-black caterpillar wriggling its way across the driveway. “Already?” I cried, shaking my fist in the air. She looked at me quizzically and attempted to give the insect (I looked it up) a lick.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac (and author Catherine Boeckmann, whose accompanying article I skimmed earlier today) the woolly bear has long been attributed with the ability to “predict the severity of an upcoming winter,” based solely on the varying range of its brown-to-black color ratio. “The wider the rusty brown sections of its 13 distinct body segments, the milder the coming winter will be,” the article states, citing an “old wives tale,” which has been circulating since there were, I don’t know… old wives, I guess. Between 1948 and 1956, Dr. C.H. Curran, who was then curator of insects at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, methodically tracked the color correlation on hundreds of caterpillars and came to the conclusion that the “folklore has some merit and might be true.” Fortunately, the one that Dharma was trying to lick was mostly brown, so…. Oy—I’ve already forgotten what that portends.
Then I spotted the leaf. One single leaf had fluttered to the ground, stippled with too many colors for my liking, and I gasped. Orange, yellow, green and red—the leaf seemed to mock me, beckoning with its showy (I mean rotting) splendor. “Nope,” I muttered under my breath. “Not going there yet.”
I was, however, planning on going to the Dancing Cat in Bethel, intent on catching co-worker Veronica Daub who was slated to perform at the saloon that night. “Wow, I haven’t been there in ages” I said, while suggesting that she put my dog’s name on the guest list. “It’s my first full-length gig,” Veronica responded. “I hope actual people show up, too.”
Pulling into the lot, I spotted Daub and her crew, including fellow musicians John Snow and John Kresse, unloading the van, arms loaded with instruments. Already in work mode, I whipped out my camera and snapped a few, including one with the singer/songwriter’s “biggest fans”—her parents, who were grinning from ear to ear. “I always knew would soar,” Mom Denise said. “And I finally get to meet the Wonder Dog,” she added, ignoring me altogether. “It’s gonna be a great night.”
And so it was. Not only did people “show up,” but the place was packed. Her first set was solo—just Veronica, her matte-black guitar and a mic, and at the end of the day (IMHO), that’s all she needs. Not that her band mates weren’t good—they were wonderful, in fact. But Daub’s cool vibe, smooth bluesy voice, charisma and personality shone long before the others joined her on stage for a few tunes.
Before branching into songs (“What’s Up,” “Eliza” and “Creep”) that I didn’t recognize (meaning popular with people under 30), Daub performed some classics, like “Have You Ever seen the Rain,” “Bobby McGee” and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” breathing new life into old lyrics and making each tune her own, as she entertained the crowd with her unique blend of rock, blues and present day, hitting a high note with an insanely enthusiastic audience. Hearing someone calling out (uh huh) to Dharma, from across the room, I made my way through the crowd and accepted gal-pal Lori Rae Silvers’ invitation to join her posse.
“The Dancing Cat is back!” Silvers yelled above the din. “Isn’t Veronica great? She brought this crowd in, you know,” Lori Rae continued. “There’s a new chef, new manager, and Stacy has made a lot of changes, all of which are terrific. Are you writing this down?” The SRO crowd was mixed, with quite a few gray hairs (mine, not Lori-Rae’s) mixed in with a lot (I mean a lot) of young folks, whose hair colors ranged from dirty blonde (he knows who I mean) to hot pink, to purple, which was refreshing and depressing, simultaneously.
“Did you come to hear Veronica?” I asked a young man at the bar. “Dude, everyone under 30 is here to see Veronica,” he said with a grin. “Wait, are you writing that down?” I was, and I did, as I continued to work the room, schmoozing with hostess-with-the-mostess Stacy Cohen, who was grinning from ear to ear. “Isn’t she incredible?” Cohen enthused. “We work together,” I shot back, “and yes… she’s fantastic,” I said sullenly. “That’s what worries me. I’m not anxious to see Veronica quit her day job.”
It’s bound to happen at some point, since “nobody-can-pronounce-my-last-name” Daub is extraordinary, and seems bound for a career that does not include checking my grammar at the award-winning River Reporter, where she spends her days toiling away, while at night penning meticulously well-crafted original songs like “Says More about You” that she debuted at the Cat last weekend, as she held the audience in the palm of her hand, singing, wailing, growling and howling in her already-signature style.
“Damn,” I muttered to the dog. “I’m gonna miss that girl.”
And just like that, fall fell.
Veronica Daub will be performing every other Saturday at the Dancing Cat Saloon. Her next performance is Saturday, September 21. On Saturday, September 28, she will be opening for Sean T. Murray at Rafter’s Tavern.