Veronica Klaus: the charming chanteuse returns to Martuni's
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After more than a year starting renovations to convert an intimate Greek Revival church into a bed & breakfast in pastoral Sharon Springs, New York, celebrated cabaret singer Veronica Klaus returns to Martuni's for two nights of song with The Tammy Hall Trio.
Along with her concerts, said Klaus in a phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter, "I'm looking forward to spending some time in my old garden, to see the progress, to hang out at 20th Century Café in Hayes Valley, seeing everyone at Martuni's and eating at Zuni."
A former Hayes Valley resident for three decades, and a favorite fixture of the nightclub and cabaret scene, Klaus mentioned a few things she doesn't miss.
"There was a point where I was walking through my neighborhood," she said. "Every place had changed to a new restaurant three times as expensive, with lines out the door. I didn't know anyone. I thought, 'This is not my neighborhood anymore.' All the places I played were closed except Martuni's. It just seems so much more dire."
So, Klaus trekked across country with furniture, including her vintage upright piano, in a 26-foot truck with a few stalwart friends in March 2017.
While awaiting permits for her in-progress renovations on the 1860 church, Klaus has been renting a nearby apartment in Sharon Springs, which was dubbed by NewNowNext as "the gayest little town you've never heard of."
In addition to occasional local shows, Klaus works at Beekman 1802, the skin care and gourmet food shop created by author Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his husband Brent Ridge of the reality show fame The Beekman Boys. The town also has a growing LGBT population credited with reviving the local economy, and even a gay mayor, Doug Plummer, who co-owns a local hotel.
"I forgot how much I missed the seasons," said Klaus. "Spring is the most gorgeous thing out here. You forget how fast time flies in San Francisco, with no weather changes."
Klaus spoke amusedly of winter six-foot snow drifts from "forty inches of snow!" and piles of wood split by local workers when a few of the trees on her property had to be cut down. She spoke less lovingly of the local mosquitos and chiggers.
With Pompeii-style murals and stained glass in the former church, Klaus said she hopes to finish the work left incomplete by the previous owner.
"I came from a small town, Gillespie, Illinois, so it's not that much different," said Klaus. "Nestled within this largely conservative area is a supportive wonderful community."
Klaus has had a few close friends visit, including former Bay Area nightlife and portrait photographer Jose A. Guzman-Colon. With her two adorable Chihuahuas, Pearl and Charisse, the singer has become part of the less-then-600 population, and one of few, if any other, trans women in the village.
Klaus' ongoing GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $19,000 of her $100,000 goal (https://www.gofundme.com/veronicaslyrichouse). Plumbing, a new kitchen and a septic tank are among the future projects. But Klaus said her decision to move to upstate New York was not an economic one.
"It's not that much less expensive to live here, with a car, and the renovations," she said. "The job options are harder here. Everyone is farming or doing their own thing, some kind of craft or business."
Klaus plans to soon serve intimate dining experiences, as she had done in her San Francisco apartment, along with hosting concerts.
And what can guests expect of her upcoming Martuni's concert?
"It will reflect my new philosophy and I'll sing lots of old favorites."
Veronica Klaus performs at Martuni's July 28 at 5pm and July 29 at 7pm. $30. 4 Valencia St. To purchase tickets, send via PayPal firstname.lastname@example.org