Caffè Lena Recordings Travel to NYC for Preservation: Part Two

In 2010 the Caffè Lena History Project uncovered a rare collection of live recordings made at the Caffè from 1960-1975. This at-risk collection includes over fifty reel-to-reel recordings of artists including Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, Hedy West, Jean Ritchie, and Jerry Jeff Walker performing at Caffè Lena at the height of the folk music revival. The CLHP recognized signs of deterioration on the recordings and the urgent need to catalog and preserve them to ensure their survival. In 2011 a GRAMMY Foundation preservation grant enabled the successful physical transfer of the recordings from Saratoga Springs to Magic Shop Recording Studio in New York City and planning for the preservation of these rare materials. In June we posted a blog about...

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Newport Jazz and two sons on their jungle gym

Here is a story from the CLHP archives about the power of community to inspire great art: In the spring of 1960 just before the opening of Caffè Lena, David Wasser was introduced to Bill & Lena Spencer. A local Saratogian with a deep love for folk music, he soon became a weekend regular and gave the couple a 10 watt amplifier to use for their sound system along with their first mic stand and what he describes as “a cheap Shure mic.” When Happy Traum’s wife proved allergic to Lena’s cat Pasha, David’s house became a guest house for performers including Happy, Dave Van Ronk, Hedy West, Barry Kornfeld, Jean Redpath, Molly Scott, Ralph Rinzler and many others featured in early photographs by Joe Alper, who himself housed performers...

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