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December 07, 2016
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Back in the saddle (again)

In the truest sense of the word, Stacy Cohen, left, and Peter Florance keep author Jonathan Fox steady on his feet as they announce his triumphant return to the crowd at the Dancing Cat Saloon in Bethel, NY.

For something completely different, a song springs to mind as I ponder the last weeks and all that has transpired. With almost two full months under my belt since being released from the hospital, languishing on the couch (which is now in a secret, undisclosed location) no longer seems like a viable option. Now that I have an Internet connection, my world has once again opened its doors and invited me to participate. So I bit the proverbial bullet and ventured forth—with help from others, of course!

It seemed only natural that my first foray into the Upper Delaware Valley should lead straight to the Dancing Cat (, my home away fromhome. Having received a multitude of offers for rides to and fro, I gratefully accepted two (thank you, Gabby Allen and Jamie Aitken IV), put on my big boy pants (ouch) and shuffled off, determined to spend an hour or two with like-minded individuals, out to catch one of my favorite local bands: the New Kings (featuring Peter Florance).

According to their Facebook page, the New Kings “emerged from the Riff Kings, now a four-piece combo with Peter Florance on guitar, Cat Wilson on vocals, Don Knothe on upright bass and Josh Florance on drums. This new lineup has created a raw and upbeat band sound that can expand on Peter’s guitar solos and explore new songs.” Even though Wilson was MIA Saturday night (missed you, Cat!), the joint was jumpin’ (as usual) and a steady stream of New Kings fans and admirers filled the dance floor as Florance, all-grown-up son Josh and bassist Knothe did their thing as only they can do.

We denizens of the Catskills are so fortunate to live in a region steeped in musical history, and Dancing Cat proprietor Stacy Cohen constantly strives (and succeeds, IMHO) to keep it alive via her posse of talented musicians, all of whom stream through the place enriching our lives with the sound of music.

As I held court in the center of the room, dozens of well-wishers stopped by to say hello and congratulate me for getting out (“I’m back in the saddle again/out where a friend is a friend”), providing me with a warm, fuzzy feeling that lingers. I allowed their sentiment to wash over me as I (finally!) broke out the “old .44” (I mean camera) and snapped away, feeling the familiar thrill of capturing the moment (Whoopi-ty-aye-yay!) for posterity.

Not yet able to actually dance, I settled for “rockin’ to and fro” and reveled in all of the attention, including Florance and Cohen making a bit of a fuss, bringing me up on stage and exuberantly acknowledging my attendance (“look everybody—The River Reporter’s own Jonathan Fox is back in da house!”) as I waved and blushed ever so slightly. Not waiting to be asked, I requested one of my favorite New Kings covers (“Secret Agent Man”), and the band obliged with its usual flair, once again bringing down the house with its energetic spin on one of the many classics the group reinvents for a new generation of enthusiasts.

Although slightly delirious over my newfound freedom, it did not escape my attention that my not-so-secret stalker Nora Brown had slinked in the back door (probably seeking to snag yet another by-line) with husband George (as always) in tow. Instead of pretending that I hadn’t noticed, I invited them to join my table, assuring Ms. Brown that “I got this one covered” and proceeded to show her how a camera actually works, while acknowledging that I was “on to her” after last week’s (slightly too good) fill-in reporting, which I had (in hindsight) foolishly asked her to do.

Brown batted her eyelashes at me and attempted flattery, but she wasn’t going to fool me again. I informed her that I “had it all on film” and suggested she sit back and enjoy the New Kings like the other spectators, pretending that we were still friends, while secretly harboring jealousy over her numerous talents. Then and there, I whipped out my trusty iPad and searched for interpretation of “back in the saddle” which, as suspected, is direct. The website simply delineated the definition: “Doing something you stopped doing for a period of time.”

Fresh out of Gene Autry’s “lowly jimsonweed,” I sneaked out for a guilty-pleasure cigarette and breathed a smoke-filled sigh of relief, finally feeling that I might actually be well on my way to recovery, or as the old song goes, back in the saddle again!