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The Bright Series continues this Sunday with superb newcomer The Sweet Lillies. They “sound like Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss on a cross-country road trip with the adventurous soul of John Hartford riding shotgun.” (Americana UK) Click the photo to hear their cover of “My Brother’s Hill” by The Stray Birds.
Greetings – May is a special month here at folk headquarters. Lena and Bill Spencer opened this venue on May 21, 1960. Thousands of shows have followed that night Jackie Washington stepped on stage, and Maxine Abel played her guest set. Joe Bruchac, Saratoga Springs’ recently appointed Poet Laureate, read this new poem on our stage a couple weeks ago. It feels like the right moment to share it:


How many nights did I drive her home
clutching her cash box to her chest?
Then wait in my car
for the light to come on
home and safe at last
in her small apartment
up on North Broadway?

That humble home she had to leave
when the choice came to pay her rent
or keep the lights of the Caffe on,
as she moved into the never-finished
drafty back room she shared with her cat.

Today from a new entrance grander
than anyone could have imagined
in 1960 when the doors first swung open
an elevator can take you now
up to that room where Lena sat
so many nights with her friend Old Tom
playing Scrabble at her table
against the back wall, cigarette
in hand as she watched that stage
which glowed so bright
it shone not just in this place
but into the hearts of generations.

A new stage now and new caretakers
no longer worried about paying rent,
about drafty windows, leaks in the roof,
and those ancient uneven stairs
that made it so hard for aging knees —
those same stairs up which Lena trudged,
then fell in her final sacrifice.

So join me now to celebrate her spirit
which never left this place.
Join me to remember and give thanks
to all of those who shared their gifts
of story, song, and poetry
those who are more than echoes here,
and those who we have yet to hear,
here at Lena’s Caffe.

– Joseph Bruchac, Poet Laureate, Saratoga Springs, NY | 2023
7 PM Open Mic Night
7 PM Storytelling Open Mic Featured Teller Kelvin Keraga
8 PM “Live From Caffe Lena” on WEXT 97.7 or 106.1 FM
5:30 PM Talking Poetry Discussion Group 
7 PM Poetry Open Mic Featured Poet Andrea Carter Brown
7 PM & 12 AM “Live From Caffe Lena” on Folk Music Notebook
1:30 PM 10 Minutes with Mateo & Sarah News & Trivia Contest!
7 PM Seamus Egan Project
8 PM Dirty Grass Players with opener Lance & Lea
3 PM Little Folks Show: Folk Talk Trio
2 PM Playwright’s Jam
7 PM Bright Series: The Sweet Lilies
Sample Song |  In-person tickets | Watch on Caffe Lena TV

A titan of Irish-American music, Solas founder Seamus Egan renews Celtic folk with fresh ideas and makes wickedly complex instrumentation seem effortless. He co-wrote Sarah McLachlan’s breakout hit, “I Will Remember You,” and has scored numerous documentaries and indie films.

Sample Song  In-person tickets | Watch on Caffe Lena TV

Newgrass from Baltimore that transitions seamlessly from down-home bluegrass to spirited improvisation. Mix in some Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, or a dash of southern rock and you’ll quickly understand what they mean by “Dirty Grass.” Openers Lance & Lea win the crowd over with storytelling lyrics and soothing harmonies.

Sample Song Register | Watch from home

Folk troubadour Rik Palieri, CMA award-winning singer-songwriter Patti Shannon and Vermont-based topical songwriter Jason Baker create a high energy show with 6 & 12 string guitar, banjo, bass, harmonica, ukulele and Native American flute. They create a fun atmosphere that celebrates folk tradition and encourages audience participation. Made possible by the generosity of Kevin & Claudia Bright and Polyset.

Sample Song |  In-person tickets | Watch on Caffe Lena TV

Energetic and upbeat, eclectic global music that opens ears & hearts! They blend the sounds of Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean and beyond with jazz and improvisation to create irresistible grooves. “Refined, generous, jubilating … the writing is stunning, open, articulate” (World Guitarist)

Sample Song |  In-person tickets | Watch on Caffe Lena TV

Our don’t-miss monthly Bright Series features a fast-rising band that is playing in town for the first time. Discover them here at Caffe Lena! Guitar, bass & viola come together with ethereal vocal harmonies to create music with an old-time soul and powerful narratives. Social justice, self exploration, and evolution of the spirit are the themes of their new record. They’ve evolved from folk-and-bluegrass into a genre-bending powerhouse that might even throw in a string band take on ’90s hip-hop.

Caffe Lena On the Road delivers performances to folks in the region who would otherwise not have access to live music. This past week was a busy one! Erin Harpe & Jim Countryman played blues for 4 and 5-year-olds at the YMCA in the morning & for a 103-year-old at Wesley Healthcare Center in the afternoon. Young and old were delighted! Quebecois traditional trio E.T.E visited our new community partners in Washington County, playing sets for senior citizens in Salem and Cambridge. One audience member wrote, “I, being of French extract via Canada, and having heard numerous Franco American groups in the USA and Canada playing folk music, E.T.E. beat them all. I thank Caffé Lena for making this performance possible.” That thanks goes out to you members, because you’re the ones who enable Caffe Lena to be so much more than a place to see great shows.
Thank you.

Caffe Lena has nearly 1,000 active members. These folks are planting songs and growing community with their annual donations. They also get the best seats in the house, early access to special shows and some neat swag. Learn More

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There’s still time to see last weekend’s shows!
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