Friday, March 27, 2009

The Cat Lady You've Been Missing

Her self-publishing record label is called “Cat Lady Records.” Her first CD is “Reluctant Cat Lady” which includes a whimsical cat-family-tree on the back, and a picture of a cat on the front, as well as a song about her first cat.

I’m talking about Princeton-based singer/songwriter Sarah Donner, who’s not afraid to label herself or discuss her feline based obsessions.

I finally caught up with her live at The Dive (947 E. Passyunk) in South Philly (not *a* dive, “*The* Dive,” two blocks east of the Italian Market. (I’ve lived in the Philly area all my life and never quite got it through my head that Passyunk dead-ended in South Street. How did I miss that?)

The Dive is one of those lovely cramped smoky places, crammed into what was once a cramped rowhome. A long skinny downstairs with flowing taps and PBR specials, a very long flight of stairs up to a “game room” (pool table and a couple video games), with a small bar/performance space halfway up the stairs.

Performance started a little after 9pm, but the opening act was a mournful guitarist who sang very slow-strummed songs that went on for some time. He had a strong voice and an earnest manner, but after 20 minutes I was eager to see Ms. Donner, and yet he went on for another 20.

The energy totally changed when Sarah started playing. She practically attacked her guitar, and her left hand clocked a lot of mileage on the fret board. Her songs are restless, almost unable or unwilling to slow down and let you catch up. A supple and spirited vocal, and an engaging presence. And the songs are interesting and quirky.

Sarah apparently runs a monthly Indie Music night in Princeton Junction, which I will have to check out one of these months.

It's worth it to head to her MySpace page and listen to "Dodgeball" (which was a 2008 favorite song at the Acoustic Diner podcast, in the running for song of the year. That will give you a good introduction to her style.

Her new CD does not have a cat. It has a Sheep, to represent “The Sleep You’ve Been Missing.” Both CDs available at CDBaby (and no, I don’t get a commission).

Her website seems to be down at the moment, but you can find her at MySpace for now, and check back with her home base later on.

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