June 2010 Newsletter

Greetings, friends! Welcome to the second edition of our Caffè Lena History Project newsletter. May 21st, 2010 marked Caffè Lena’s 50th year! In Saratoga Springs where it all began, the Caffè’s community (along with some special friends including Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur, Arlo Guthrie and Robin & Linda Williams) celebrated America’s oldest continuously running folk coffeehouse, recognized today as a national treasure.

The grandmother of the folk music scene kicked off her golden birthday with a visit from the New York Folks Arts Roundtable gathering on Wednesday night, held its much loved Open Mic on Thursday night, continued with a Friday night performance that also announced plans for our upcoming renovation campaign, held an all day Saturday block party on Phila Street with guest musicians (as seen below), and a very special culminating concert at Skidmore College’s brand new Zankel Music Center on Saturday night. The Caffè Lena History Project supported the celebration by coordinating documentation of the weekend for inclusion in the Caffè Lena Archival Collection, collecting new memorabilia and memories that were shared in honor of Lena’s legacy, and creating a partnership with the American Folklife Collection at the Library of Congress that drew supporters from our nation’s capitol to recognize Caffè Lena’s place in music history. Thanks to the Saratoga Springboard and all volunteers, performers, board members, staff, neighbors, attendees, donors, and friends who made the event a huge success!


  • Many thanks to Rich Bala for all his help researching grants for the Project. His support and wisdom has been immeasurable.
  • We’d like to thank Alan Bartenhagen at Northern Roads Studios and John Nazarenko for all their help to preserve our 25th Anniversary recordings.
  • A round of applause goes to our friends at the American Folklife Center for their efforts to preserve Lena’s collection as a national treasure.
  • We’re happy to report that songstress and former Lena waitress Christine Lavin memorializes Caffè Lena in her new mem-what?? “Cold Pizza for Breakfast

The Caffè Lena History Project now has a Facebook page! We’ll be posting updates about the project and welcome you to stop by and become a fan.

Since our last newsletter went out in February, we’ve begun to receive a steady stream of donations towards the book project. This has enabled us to continue preserving important memorabilia and stories for inclusion in the book, and keep moving towards publication. Thank you! If you haven’t yet made a contribution, we still need your help! By making a tax-deductible contribution, you join us in voicing your belief in the power of preserving America’s folk music heritage. No gift is too small – every dollar goes toward preserving this important story for future generations of music lovers. We need your generous support. As Caffè Lena is a certified nonprofit, your gift is tax deductible. Please take a minute to make a charitable contribution today, a gift that can be recognized in your 2010 tax return. Your gift will have a lasting impact on music lovers everywhere. Donations, grant leads, grantwriting volunteer help and funding source recommendations welcomed. To inquire about making a donation or further ways you can support the project, please email jocelyn@caffelenahistory.org.

A friend of Caffè Lena recently described this project as “piecing the puzzle (Lena’s scrabble!) into a rich tapestry who’s fabric is spun of memories, vision, great humor, tenacity and dedication.” With that wonderful image of the great puzzle in mind, we are still actively seeking Caffè archival materials including audio recordings, photographs, letters, posters, songbooks, recipes, programs and other memorabilia for our archival collection. If we can use your materials, we will be happy to send you a tax donation form. To share a story, please fill out the Oral History Questionnaire on our Caffè Lena History Project Website. (http://www.caffelenahistory.org/questionnaire.htm)

In the coming months, stay tuned for more updates about the book project, annoucements about new featured project partners, and an updated History Project website. Thank you for your continued support, and happy summer!

-Jocelyn Arem
Caffè Lena History Project Director

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