Caffè Lena Recordings Travel to New York City for Preservation

Did you or someone you know make an audio or video recording at Caffè Lena? Do you have further background information or additional recordings related to the sources below? Please contact us so that we can continue to save Lena’s recorded history. . .

Recently, five boxes of archival recordings traveled 182 miles and fifty years towards digitization.

Caffè Lena Recordings at Magic Shop Studio.Photo by Jocelyn Arem 2011

The boxes contained Caffè Recordings from these sources:

Andy and Bill Spence

WAMC Northeast Public Radio

John Nazarenko

Alan Bartenhagen

ZBS Foundation

The Caffè Lena History Project

Thanks to help from our friends at The GRAMMY Foundation, and Lena audio donors in New York and as far away as Panama and China, these unassuming boxes, containing a treasure trove of songs, stories, introductory remarks, (and likely mystery sounds yet to be revealed) recorded at Caffè Lena will be cataloged and saved from deterioration, with listening copies made for the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The GRAMMY grant allowed for this important trip to take place, and to begin a relationship with a renowned producer that will enable us to preserve Lena’s complete recorded history.

Steve Rosenthal with Caffè Lena Recording.Photo by JArem 2011

Three-time GRAMMY-winning sound preservationist Steve Rosenthal and his Magic Shop Studio came forward at just the right moment, partnering with the Caffè Lena History Project to preserve never-before-heard recordings by Mississippi John Hurt, Kate McGarrigle, Don McLean, Jean Ritchie, Pete Seeger, and others. This wonderful connection, like most in the course of this project, is fittingly profound.

Steve’s passion for preserving American folk and roots music includes audio work on The Alan Lomax in Haiti Box set and The Live Wire by Woody Guthrie. But it goes beyond admiration for the voices of the past. As co-owner of The Living Room– a unique New York City listening space that he cites as a club inspired by Caffè Lena, he shares Lena’s dedication to providing a space for a young generation of artists to hone their craft.

From The New York Times: “I’ve never played solo here, ever,” Norah Jones said just after midnight Monday on the Lower East Side, surveying a capacity crowd with a flicker of a smile. “Much less on guitar,” she added, fiddling with the strap of her cherry-red Fender Mustang. “But I figured in the spirit of the Living Room, I’d try something new.”

Sound familiar, Lena fans?


  1. Maurizio
    Jun 10, 2011

    It is great to see that after all these years, Caffe Lena is able to still carry on a tradition -which fosters growth, community, and family 🙂

  2. eva
    Jun 12, 2011

    Their is so much magic that happens at Caffe Lena. Now we can look back as we go forward. The magic continues!

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