A Letter from Don McLean. By way of Caffè Lena

The following letter and email are shared with the permission of oral historian, musician and Caffè Lena friend Mark Klempner, and shed light on the Caffè as a conduit for inspiration between musicians. As a young aspiring musician, Mark heard Don McLean perform “American Pie” in a small audience at the intimate Caffè Lena. Mark’s contact with Don at the Caffè led to this letter of musical guidance from the legendary performer to the upcoming songwriter, and greatly influenced Mark’s music career. “I find it interesting that James Taylor had just come out at that time with his first album on Apple Records (he was, I think, the first artist the Beatles signed for their new record company, and almost the last because Apple...

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Remembering Robert Durand

We received word tonight that a History Project friend has passed away – Robert Durand was responsible for creating the original Caffè Lena ZBS Radio Shows in the early 1970s, and with the help of Tom Lopez, drew our attention to the archived tapes for preservation and digitization as part of our efforts to document the recorded history of the Caffè. What was most uncanny about this particular History Project meeting was that Robert kindly coordinated the transfer and donation of the original tapes in New York via email from his home far away in Panama. In our email correspondence, Robert shared enthusiastic memories of meeting Lena Spencer for the first time, recording her singing her own song “Lena the Queen of Saratoga” on the ZBS...

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