CLHP Intern Blog: Hannah Rank

Working with the Caffè Lena History Project this summer has reassured my belief that important causes can endure the test of time.  As the Caffè marches through 50+ years, a lot has changed, but its purpose remains to support folk music and community values. It continues to preserve an important history about a community that has consistently promoted important messages about equality and togetherness. The fact that the Caffè still stands is a testament to that message. In transcribing interviews from the Caffè Lena Oral History Collection of the performers at Caffè Lena throughout the years, I kept hearing over and over how much they felt Pete Seeger influenced them as musicians, but also as fellow members of the Folk Revival Movement. I couldn’t help but...

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CLHP Intern Blog: Martha Snow

Food trucks and Friendly Ghosts I first heard about the Caffè Lena History Project through an advertisement in the Skidmore College email system, and was immediately interested. I have grown up in a family that has always cherished music, and as an American Studies major, I am fascinated by the way that humanity can be found in the past and related to the present, and the stories that still hold resonance and weight in modern society. This past semester, I took a class whose central theme was “Community,” where we asked fundamental questions about what creates and sustains a community, what values bind them together, and what forces have the potential to break them apart. I had heard of the strong community created around Caffè Lena, and wanted to know...

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CLHP Intern Blog: Sallie Kuritsky

Last Thursday afternoon I took my mother and grandmother to the famous Hattie’s Chicken Shack. As we walked outside, sufficiently stuffed with fried chicken and biscuits, I noticed a middle aged man standing next to the restaurant, in front of Caffè Lena. He looked like a weathered musician, with worn jeans and a guitar case in his hands. I asked him if he was playing at the open mic night that was starting in a little while. He looked at me smiling and said, “I hope so!” Immediately I felt the warmth and camaraderie that the Caffè was famous for. After having spent the last five weeks transcribing interviews of folk musicians that had played at the Caffè, the stories and memories from the cassette tapes seemed to come to life in that moment. I proceeded...

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CLHP Intern Blog: Alex Becker

Dear 1960s, I never knew you! So, why do I like you so much? Of the many thought-provoking questions that have surfaced this summer during my work on the Caffè Lena history project, I find myself going back to this one often. It’s no secret that we, at least some of us, and particularly those who never lived through the years, have developed a strong sense of nostalgia for the ‘60s, a decade rediscovered in our culture today on television and in movies, in songs and photographs, in text books, and of course, in stories. As I’ve encountered more and more stories from Caffè Lena patrons and performers over the past few weeks, I’ve begun to piece together a clearer image of Caffè Lena’s important role within the folk music scene and the larger 1960s...

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CLHP Intern Blog: Emily Werner

We're delighted to be working this summer with Caffè Lena History Project student interns from Skidmore College. Their energy, insight, and ideas are already enhancing CLHP research and outreach in incredible ways. They will each be contributing a blog entry about their work and discoveries. The first installation comes from Emily Werner, recently featured in The Saratogian which highlighted her work with Caffè Lena.

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Caffè Lena Turns 52 and Smiles For the Camera

It was a busy anniversary weekend May 19-21, 2012 at Caffè Lena, filled with the spirit of legendary folksinger Woody Guthrie, memorialized by an Emmy Award-nominated filmmaker, highlighted by one dog on stage, and supported by volunteers from the Best Buy corporation. Where else but at Caffè Lena would you find that combination? The performance schedule included longtime Caffè Lena friend Michael Cooney, Butch Hancock and bands from the Capital Region, and Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion. On board for the weekend’s activities, Jessica Wolfson of Lost Footage Films (producer of the incredible documentary Radio Unnameable which features many Caffè Lena performers- check it out) along with her local film team Alex Becker and George Black documented...

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