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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A Tribute to Jaye Alper

Jaye Alper, a dear friend of the Caffè Lena community, passed away last month after a valiant fight with illness. Many will remember Jaye from Caffè Lena’s 45th Anniversary celebration when she attended and supported our History Project exhibition on site at the venue; Jaye kindly donated the image of Bob Dylan made by her father Joe Alper that now hangs above the staircase at Caffè Lena. But long before that, Jaye herself appeared in her father’s photographs. Between 2008-2010 the Joe Alper Photo Collection LLC together with the Caffè Lena History Project uncovered and identified over 6,000 images Joe made at Caffè Lena between 1960-1968 that had been stored in their original negative state and relatively unseen for over five decades....

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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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