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By Mike Hochanadel for Nippertown–Even after seeing Richard Thompson charm more than 10,000 people on the outdoor Gentilly stage at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and hypnotize smaller crowds in much cozier spaces*, the focused force of his music felt astounding at Caffe Lena Wednesday.

Caffè Lena at 60: Still ‘Essential’ After All These Years

SARATOGA SPRINGS – While New York City wrote itself into music history with its sheer volume of folk venues—The Gaslight Cafe, The Bitter End, Cafe Wha?—Saratoga Springs needed just one. Caffè Lena, opened by Lena and Bill Spencer on Phila Street 60 years ago last month, typified a decade marked by great cultural upheaval and the transformation of societal norms. 

The Entertainers: These Three Dynamic Women are Chiefly Responsible For All That Entertains Us

SARATOGA SPRINGS – On the cover of this year’s Saratoga Summer Issue, saratoga living wanted to honor the trio of dynamic women who are in charge of entertaining us all: the Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s (SPAC’s) President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol, Caffè Lena’s Executive Director Sarah Craig and Universal Preservation Hall’s (UPH’s) Teddy Foster. 

Saratoga Springs program pairs songwriters with people who’ve suffered hardships for Caffe Lena shows

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It’s a first of its kind program, matching local songwriters with local people who’ve struggled. Each of them will tell their story of addiction, or homelessness, or illness to the artist who will then write songs about their personal hardships and perform them at Caffe Lena.

JAZZ at Caffè Lena Celebrates Its First Anniversary With Vibraphonist Joe Locke And Pianist Chuck Lamb – Saratoga Living

Here’s a nice kernel of wisdom for you: “Don’t do it like you’re in it to make money. Just do it with a whole lot of love-like you’re in it to serve.” That’s what Lena Spencer, the founder of Caffè Lena, used to say, according to Sarah Craig, the current Executive Director of Caffè Lena.

Eight Remarkable Artists That Played At Caffè Lena Before They Hit It Big – Saratoga Living

Pretty much every Saratogian knows that Bob Dylan performed at Caffè Lena back in the early ’60s, just as he was beginning to kick off his legendary folk career. But Bob wasn’t the only one. According to Sarah Craig, Executive Director of Caffè Lena, most of the now famous musicians who have performed at the club weren’t famous when they first started performing there.

Caffe Lena starts year with new leaders

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y >> Spa City music venue Caffè Lena has a new list of leaders on its board heading into 2018. Following a major renovation in 2016, the famed coffeehouse marked a year of unprecedented renewal and growth in 2017 – with new artists and audiences finding common ground amidst an up-to-date showroom featuring upgraded food, beer, wine and amenities, including a long-awaited elevator.

Rebirth of Spa City’s Caffe Lena the focus of talk

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> The Fall 2017 Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series kicked off this week with a talk about the legendary local folk venue Caffe Lena. Titled “The Rebirth of Caffe Lena – Saratoga’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse,” the presentation was given by the venue’s executive director Sarah Craig at noon on Thursday in the H.

Atmosphere intact? Patrons say Caffe Lena much improved

Six months after the storied coffee house Caffe Lena re-opened after major renovations, patrons, performers and board members sound delighted with its results, with minimal setbacks. Maryalice Cole has been attending for several decades and said the upgrade – the largest overhaul since its opening more than 50 years ago – was beyond her expectation.

Lena’s Legacy: Her Caffe Lena turns 50

When Lena Spencer died in 1989 after falling down the stairs at her Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, the coffeehouse might have died, too. But in 29 years, Spencer, jovial, hardheaded and single-minded, had nurtured a community around folk music and her intimate club that refused to let it close.

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Live at Caffè Lena – Sing Out!

VARIOUS ARTISTS Live at Caffè Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse, 1967-2013 Tompkins Square 2967 www.tompkinssquare.com As one of the seminal folk clubs of the 1960s folk revival, Caffè Lena has few parallels.

Caffe Lena – An Example of How to Flourish In a Pandemic

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It seems contradictory to say that when an organization has been severely hurt economically, it has also prospered. It is, however, true of Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs.

Established in 1960, in 2020 the venue saw the lowest earned revenue period in their history. Mostly because it has not had a ticket sale or income from food sales since last March.

However, generous foundation grants, patron donations and earned income from unexpected sources have kept the organization afloat.

2019 Eddies: Saratoga’s Caffè Lena, Garland Nelson Take Home Multiple Awards

SARATOGA SPRINGS  – Saratoga owned the Eddies. At the inaugural Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Awards (Eddies) at Proctors on April 14—basically, a local version of the Grammy Awards—Saratoga Springs had a bountiful evening, bringing away multiple awards in a range of categories.

Sarah Craig: Finding Understanding Through Stories

“When I was a kid growing up, I never thought that I would have a career. I somehow thought I’d be able to get away with not working. I thought maybe I’d be the Queen of England. So, I never really had any interest in making money or having a career, but I did have a very big bundle of energy for trying to make good things happen in the world.”

Exclusive: Grammy-Winning Folk Artist Tom Paxton Discusses His 15th Gig At Caffè Lena – Saratoga Living

“It’s so intimate; people are right in your face; it’s a living room kind of a feeling; very personal,” says Tom Paxton, reminiscing about his 14 previous gigs at Caffè Lena. (That’s right, 14.) He’s calling from a hotel room in Kansas City, MO, where he’s planning to attend the annual Folk Alliance International conference.

With Renovations Complete, Caffè Lena Turns To Expanded, Fresh Programs This Year – Saratoga Business Journal

More than 57 years after Saratoga’s Caffé Lena opened for business, the now world-famous acoustic music venue is celebrating its first birthday all over again. With the help of a long list of donors, including a philanthropic partnership with Bonacio Construction, Inc, the nonprofit Caffé Lena was transformed from timeworn loft space to state-of-the-art venue …

Caffe Lena marks one year since reopening

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.>> Caffé Lena, widely recognized as the oldest continuously operating folk music venue in the United States, is celebrating one year since its rebirth. More than 57 years after Saratoga’s Caffé Lena opened for business, the now world-famous acoustic music venue is celebrating its first birthday all over again.

Renovated Caffe Lena ready for reopening night Dec. 30

on its reopening night of Friday, Dec. 30, the small, storied folk hub at 47 Phila St. in Saratoga Springs will host an 8 p.m. concert by the Suitcase Junket, the one-man band of roots-playing, throat-singing Matt Lorenz.

Various Artists: Live at Caffé Lena: Music from America’s Legendary Coffeehouse 1967-2013 ” American Songwriter

Various Artists Live at Caffé Lena: Music from America’s Legendary Coffeehouse 1967-2013 (Tomkins Square) Rating: 4 out of 5 stars The title of this lovingly compiled three disc set tells you much of what you need to know.

Forty-Seven Years at 47 Phila Street: Caffe Lena

Forty-Seven Years at 47 Phila Street: America’s Oldest Continuously Running Folk Coffeehouse by Jocelyn Arem in VOICES: The Journal of New York Folklore, Vol. 34, Spring-Summer, 2008.

Powerplayer: Jim Mastrianni, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Caffe Lena

SARATOGA SPRINGS – …That evening, it took only a few seconds to realize that: (a) Mastrianni has the single greatest music-lovers’ man cave in Saratoga; and (b) Mastrianni and I are cut from the same cloth: We’re both Brobdingnagian music nerds. But whereas I spin a few yarns about music here and there for the local ’zine, Mastrianni’s made a second career out of it.

Caffe Lena to honor Al McKenney with Launch of Community Lunchtime Listening Hour

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Some people called him “Captain Fun,” others the “unofficial mayor of Saratoga Springs,” but the one sure thing of which you could be certain when running into Al McKenney on one of his strolls along Broadway, was you would hear a story you had never heard before.

Preservation awards given out in Saratoga Springs

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Springs Preservation Association lauded seven groups on Thursday for their dedication to preserving Saratoga Springs’ history. The association held its annual Preservation Recognition Awards at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.

Neighbors: Snippets of Life From Your Community

Who: Joe Deuel, photographer, sound man. Where: Caffè Lena. You’re a native Saratogian. How long has your family been here? What did they do? I’m the fifth generation. And everyone in town knew my dad. He was a pro bowler in the ’50s and had a photo studio on Phila Street.

Saratoga After Dark: Caffè Lena’s InnVasion Fundraiser Raises $15,000 – Saratoga Living

The Union Gables Inn hosted the second iteration of Caffè Lena’s now annual, one-of-a-kind InnVasion fundraiser last weekend. Over 100 guests packed into the Victorian Mansion for a night of live folk music performed by songwriters and bands tucked into two floors’ worth of boutique bedrooms. “It was a big, complex event to put together and it went perfectly,” says Sarah Craig, Executive Director of Caffè Lena.

Iconic Coffeehouse Caffè Lena Reopens After A Year Of Renovation And Modernization – Saratoga Business Journal

By Maureen Werther A sold-out crowd celebrated the long-awaited re-opening of the legendary Caffè Lena at 47 Phila St. in Saratoga Springs on Friday, Dec. 30. The first concert in the newly renovated space featured the one-man band of Matt Lorenz, the Suitcase Junket. In honor of its re-opening, the evening ended with musical tributes …

Caffe Lena hears positive reviews from folks about renovations

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> One old Spa City folk venue is showing off its new look, and getting great feedback. Caffè Lena, located at 47 Phila St. in downtown Saratoga Springs, reopened its doors on Friday, Dec. 30 for a sold out show by The Suitcase Junket.


Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Caffè Lena announced a three-part concert series, Nordlys Global Voices Series, as part of a new programming collaboration featuring original and traditional musicians from non-English-speaking nations. Launched by the two beloved Saratoga venues, the series continues with bachata singer and guitarist Joan Soriano (3/16).

Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Made Music History

“There’s a spirit of family here that’s different,” Ms. Arem said. “Lena insisted that performers stay with her, and she fed them. When people came here, they let their guard down, and as artists, they feel they can tap into parts of their creative selves that they can’t in other places.”

Live At Caffe Lena

A new CD is out this week, which features long-lost recordings of Don McLean, Jerry Jeff Walker, Pete Seeger and others. The recordings were made at the oldest continuously operating folk coffee house in the country, Caffe Lena.