Our Little Liberty Library is dedicated to banned and challenged books. For more than 60 years, Caffe Lena has created a safe haven for free speech on stage—whether in the form of music, theater or the spoken word. Caffe Lena urges everyone to read, to dream, to express themselves. Take a book home; leave one if you wish. Your life will be richer for it. Click photo to see all sides of the box.
Greetings – If summer has to end, at least its ending in a blaze of musical glory. We’re just getting off the incredible high of a weekend with Doc Severinsen, Martin Sexton and Stacey Kent, and now we’re rolling into Richard Thompson and Sawyer Fredericks. It’s an honor to present musicians who are “big names,” but what’s really special is the impact of their art. People far and wide have found their way to my inbox asking for help delivering messages of appreciation. They talk about how the music offsets the pain of debilitating illness, helps them stay sober, heals them enough so they can continue being good parents, or nurses, or teachers, eases them through the loss of a spouse. The world often calls music “entertainment,” but it’s so much more than that.
I also want to take a moment to comment on what happened here on Wednedsay evening. More than 100 people gathered in person (and dozens more online) to celebrate the launch of the Little Liberty Library, a help-yourself box of banned and challenged books located right next to our front door. Attendees donated beautiful new books, authors did a fabulous job reading passages from banned books, and we all finished the night filled with hope that we can preserve literary diversity in schools and libraries. It was a long night, but you can watch all or part of it here: https://youtu.be/vBS0woynLOk?t=587
It’s a dream come true to see this beloved artist in such an intimate setting. Powered by evocative songcraft, jaw-dropping guitar playing, and powerful charisma, Thompson’s influence cannot be overstated. Everybody from Robert Plant, Don Henley, and Elvis Costello to REM, Sleater-Kinney and David Byrne have covered his music. He’s received GRAMMY nominations, holds a coveted spot on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” and the OBE (Order of the British Empire) was personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II.
Raised on his family farm in central NYS, Sawyer cut his teeth at the age of 13 playing at Caffe Lena’s open mic. With his deep lyrics and raw, soulful vocals, Sawyer seemed an unlikely match for reality TV, but having been scouted by casting directors at 15, he quickly won over broad audiences with his genuine delivery and unique arrangements of classic songs, going on to win season 8 of NBC’s The Voice. Since his debut in 2015, Sawyer has released four critically acclaimed albums and built a strong fanbase from around the country.