MISSION: To provide music, connection and learning from a legendary venue.
Caffè Lena presents extraordinary music in an intimate setting steeped in history. It is widely recognized as the longest continuously operating folk music venue in the United States. The Library of Congress calls Caffè Lena “An American treasure,” and we have been recognized by The GRAMMY Foundation for our important contributions to the development of American music.
In 2020 we launched a School of Music for the purpose of carrying on the folk tradition of music as a social pastime. Our students, both children and adults, learn in small, friendly groups, master a repertoire of enduring folk songs, and write some new classics, too. A donor-funded scholarship program named for Saratoga music man Matt McCabe enables participation for all.
The Caffè Lena you see today operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In 2016 we began a $2 million renovation of our 19th century building in Saratoga’s historic downtown. The transformation, completed in 2017, guarantees a home for Lena’s celebrated programming for decades to come, creates 100% handicap-accessibility to our second floor performance space, and brings the listener and artist experience in line with the club’s international reputation.
Opened in a former woodworking shop in 1960, the Caffè has helped to launch many of America’s best loved songwriters, ranging from Bob Dylan in 1961 to Anaïs Mitchell (2008), Amythyst Kiah (2017) and Taylor Ashton (2021), with an amazing “who’s who” list in between. Upon the passing of founder Lena Nargi Spencer in 1989, Caffè Lena was converted to a non-profit institution supported by concert revenue, private and corporate donors, grants and bequests, and an ever-evolving team of volunteers.
In keeping with Lena’s devotion to presenting deserving talent regardless of fame, our diverse programming sets the stage for musical discovery year ’round. Whether you join us in-person or through live stream, Caffe Lena is a place where your faith in the power of music will be renewed. You’ll see a world-class performer up close; watch every movement of fingers on frets, and feel in your heart the foot tapping rhythm on the stage.
Best Small Venue 2019
People’s Choice Best Venue 2019
People’s Choice Best Concert 2019 Sawyer Fredericks, May 2018
Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame Lena Spencer 2020
Best Presenter of Virtual Live Music Shows 2021
Best Small Venue 2022
Presenter of the Year 2023
Sarah Craig, Executive Director