LIVE: Melanie @ Caffe Lena 7/28/2019
Legendary folk singer Melanie performed two shows on Sunday, July 28 at Caffe Lena on Phila Street in Saratoga Springs. Accompanied by her son, Beau Jarred, performed an eclectic mix of both old favorites and new songs. There was no set list. Melanie and Beau Jarred encouraged audience requests and participation in the concert following the old tradition of café folk singers. Between songs, Melanie told many anecdotes about her storied career as she segued between songs.
It gave the performance an intimate and emotional appeal.
Melanie has a great sense of humor and a wry perspective on events both past and present. Her songs are a mixture of soulful folk tunes like “Leftover Wine” and comic ballads like “I don’t eat animals”. Her voice is still a strong dusky contralto with plenty of power. Beau Jarred provided backup vocals, and his mastery of a virtual orchestra of instruments: guitar, electric cello, Irish flute, recorder and drum provided a lively accompaniment to his mother’s voice.
The concert began with the song, “Beautiful People” which Melanie made famous when she performed it at Woodstock at the age of 22. Melanie, Joan Baez, and Janice Joplin were the only female headliners there at the festival. The muddy wet field filled with hippies holding candles was the inspiration for her first hit: “Lay Down”
Fifty years later her work is just as relevant as ever. Her messages are woven into the melodies more subtlety these days. It was nice to hear her new material, even though the crowd requested many of her famous hits such as: “Look What They’ve Done to My Song”, “Peace Will Come”, and “Brand New Key”. Amongst the newer material she performed: “Ferris Wheel”, “Smile”, and “I’m a Ruin”, joking she’d invited Keith Richards to come sing backup.
Many audience members came for both of her performances.
The concert went by quickly even though it lasted nearly an hour longer than its advertised time. Spending an evening with Melanie was like hanging out by the campfire and singing with a beloved old friend.
She did not disappoint.
Recently renovated, Caffe Lena has a cozy second floor performance space. It is fully accessible to all patrons. Their menu has a variety of sweet and savory food choices and they serve coffee, wine, and beer at reasonable prices. The owners at Caffe Lena greeted us warmly when we arrived. The space was more than ninety percent full. Their upcoming concert list has something for everyone, and it is a great place to go for a fun evening out.
Beautiful People, I Don’t Eat Animals, Ferris Wheel, I’m a Ruin, Peace Will Come, Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Leftover Wine, “Mama, Mama”, Lay Down, Brand New Key, Baby Day, Wild Horses, Life Will Not Go Away, Smile, Give Peace A Chance (cover)