Posts Tagged ‘Caffe Lena’

LIVE: G. Love / John Hammond @ Skidmore’s Zankel Music Center, 9/7/14

Thursday, September 25th, 2014
G. Love

G. Love

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Lena Spencer first opened the doors to Caffe Lena more than a half century ago, and thanks to Sarah Craig – who’s been the director and guiding light of the little-coffeehouse-that-could for the past 20 years – two generations of Caffe favorites came together on the stage of Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center earlier this month in a blues-soaked benefit for the enduring Saratoga folk music haven. It was a night of Blues Hall of Famer John Hammond and his ’90s hit-making acolyte G. Love.

Hammond made his debut at Lena’s way back in 1962, but at the Zankel, only his silver hair that gave away his status as a 71-year-old blues veteran. Looking fit and trim and still sounding like a howling hurricane, Hammond opened the show with a crackling, foot-stomping, hour-long set that served as something of a career retrospective as he sat alone on a center-stage stool with his guitar and harmonica, rumbling through a dozen tasty tunes that dipped deep into the songbags of the blues greats that influenced him – from Lightning Slim to Buddy Guy, from Howlin’ Wolf to Blind Willie McTell, from Bobby Bland to Sleepy John Estes.

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LIVE: Diane Cluck @ Caffe Lena, 9/14/14

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
 Diane Cluck

Diane Cluck

Review and photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Soft spoken and, in a way shy, Diane Cluck is the kind of performer that makes her audience lean into the song to hear the words… because they want to. Not because of lack of amplification, but because it’s an intimate thing. Her lovely, woven tapestry of story-telling through song – like her vivid tune about Monte Carlo – makes the listeners follow the story as if they were a part of it.

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LIVE: Dom Flemons @ Caffe Lena, 8/15/14

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Don Flemons

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Joseph Deuel

Is there anything that the multi-talented Dom Flemons can’t do? And do well…

He’s been going it alone since parting ways with the Grammy Award-winning black string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops last year, and if you were worried about his ability to captivate a crowd without Rhiannon Giddens and the rest of his former CCD bandmates, worry no more. Earlier this month, Flemons made his Caffe Lena debut in support of his new solo album, Prospect Hill, proving beyond a doubt that he was thoroughly capable of wowing a full house on his own.

Flemons is the complete package as a performer – a stellar musician on at least a half dozen instruments (guitar, four- and six-string banjos, harmonica, bones and a pan flute-related instrument called the quills); a thoroughly engaging, charismatic all-around entertainer; and a straight-A student of the music, who offered insight and educational background on a wide variety of the songs (and the songwriters) that filled his songbag.

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LIVE: Liz Longley / Barnaby Bright @ Caffe Lena, 8/13/14

Monday, August 18th, 2014
Liz Longley

Liz Longley

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Sarah Craig – who for nearly two decades has served as the general manager Saratoga Springs’ Caffe Lena, the most marvelous coffeehouse on the planet – must have had divine inspiration to book two of the most fantastic singer-songwriter acts in one fabulous evening last week.

The headliner, Liz Longley, was lovely to the ear and to the eye. Though young in years, she presented a seasoned and mature command of dynamics using her voice and guitar prowess. Whether playing a Van Morrison number(which dovetailed into Gershwin’s “Summertime”) or any of the songs from her heartfelt bag of originals, she beguiled the crowd, presenting an exemplary, hour-plus set of captivating music.

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Five Firsts: Garry Novikoff

Monday, July 28th, 2014
Garry Novikoff

Garry Novikoff

NAME: Garry Novikoff
INSTRUMENT: Piano, Guitar, Voice, Kazoo

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … The first album I ever bought with my own money was Don McLean’s American Pie. The song that made me buy it, however, was not the title track. I had heard “Vincent” on the radio, and it broke my heart. I was six and a half years old, so the story of Van Gogh’s life had to be explained to me. The idea that someone could tell a story like that in a song made a huge impression on me.

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Five Firsts: Mike Lewis of the Twangtown Paramours

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
The Twangtown Paramours

The Twangtown Paramours

NAME: Mike Lewis
BAND AFFILIATION: The Twangtown Paramours
INSTRUMENT: Guitar and background vocals

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … The first record I ever bought was Help! by the Beatles. Some kid stole it from me at school. I vowed to get my revenge before I die.

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LIVE: Dubl Handi @ Caffe Lena, 5/30/14

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

dubi1

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

What exactly is Dubl Handi, anyway?

Well, it’s the brand name of a washboard manufactured in Ohio by the Columbus Washboard Company. (Yes, there is still an American factory that manufactures washboards…)

Ah, but when you put a Dubl Handi washboard in the hands of percussionist Brian Geltner and pair him up with frailing banjo player Hilary Hawke (both of whom have played with the fab M Shanghai String Band) and guitarist Jon LaDeau, well then, you’ve got Dubl Handi, the band, scrubbing out some of the finest traditional and old-timey banjo music comin’ out of Brooklyn these days…

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LIVE: Joseph Arthur @ Caffe Lena, 5/12/14

Monday, June 2nd, 2014
Sarah Craig and Joseph Arthur

Sarah Craig and Joseph Arthur

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Joseph Arthur is a Renaissance man kind-o’-guy. He rolled into Caffe Lena and took over the famed Saratoga Springs stage recently in support of his new album, Lou, a collection of intriguing interpretations of songs from the catalog of the late great Lou Reed.

But in addition to his work as a musician – 10 albums and 11 EPs to his credit – he’s also an accomplished visual artist, and while the Caffe Manager Sarah Craig was introducing him, Arthur was already sketching out his next painting – onstage. You gotta admit, that’s something you don’t see very often…

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