Caffe Lena’s Stay Home Sessions: Week of May 16th


60 Years of Song

Yesterday, as we tracked tornadoes ripping through the region in the midst of the pandemic, many of us wondered when the locusts might arrive. These days you just never know. What we do know is that music makes the hard times better. In fact, the harder the times, the louder we sing. Marching into battles. Marching across the bridge in Selma. Captain Scott dragging his player piano across the Arctic ice. These acts of profound determination show how very easy we have it right now, in the age of the internet, to carry on making music.

The stuffy face masks, the nightly applications of Clorox, shouting a greeting across the room, changing our plans over and over–these parts do not bring us joy. But once the music starts, and we lose ourselves in song, and we imagine a hundred hunkered down families sharing this experience, and we hear the guitarist say, “Oh, my gosh. It feels so good to play again!”–these are the parts that bring us joy.

Most of the 1960s folk clubs were gone by the end of the decade. A few more hung on into the 70s and 80s. Many became rock clubs. Lena Nargi Spencer in out-of-the-way Saratoga Springs kept bringing in music rooted in American heritage–songs that wrapped simple acoustic melodies around our hopes and pains and foolishness and bravery. This week marks her world-famous venue’s 60th Anniversary. The celebration you can read about below begins Sunday. Our crazy-quilt of events shows us adapting to unprecedented challenges–because that’s what Lena always did, and that’s how we became America’s Longest Running Folk Club.

-Sarah Craig

Every Night at 8 PM!

Four ways to find the “Stay Home Sessions” 

  1. Click a photo below to go directly to that broadcast
  2. Go to and click the red box for “Stream Live on YouTube”
  3. Go to and scroll down to click “Watch Our Live Stream”
  4. Go to, click Playlists, click Upcoming Livestreams.


Sunday, May 17, 7 PM, Lena: A Life in Folk
WMHT Watch Party on Facebook

In 2019 public television station WMHT produced a revealing documentary about Lena Nargi Spencer, founder of Caffe Lena. Even Lena’s closest friends discovered things they never knew about her challenges and steadfast commitment. Caffe Lena’s Sarah Craig and film director Nicole Van Slyke will host the chat and respond live to your questions and comments as we watch together.


Streaming on Facebook Live

Tuesday, 5/19, Noon, Reese Fulmer & Nancy Kass
Looking Ahead at Caffe Lena

House Manager and livestream guru Reese Fulmer joins Director of Development Nancy Kass for a lunch hour conversation about future directions for Caffe Lena.

Wednesday, 5/20, Noon, Caffe Lena School of Music

School manager Vivian Nesbitt joins teachers Oona Grady and James Gascoyne to discuss the unique folk music training being provided to children, and why it’s crucial for the future of the music we love.


Bands on Trucks!
Hot Club of Saratoga, Let’s Be Leonard & Garland Nelson, Noon to 1 PM

Our route goes north on Broadway to Lake Avenue, east on Lake to Circular Street, south on Circular back to Broadway. We’ll loop around from Noon to 1 PM with our bands on flatbed trucks. PLEASE PARK ALONG THE ROUTE! Decorate your car if you’re so inclined and get ready to cheer out the window as we roll by!

Music & Memories to Celebrate 60 Years of Song
Streaming Live on YouTube, 7 PM to 9 PM

  • John Winn
  • Don Armstrong
  • Loudon Wainwright
  • Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen
  • Tom Paxton
  • Christine Lavin
  • Rory Block
  • The Kennedys
  • Annie & The Hedonists
  • Holly Near
  • Joe Jencks
  • Sawyer Fredericks
  • And More . . .
  • Also this week . . .

Sunday, May 17, 4:30 PM
Spokes & Folks: Bike-a-toga Virtual Film Fest

Bike-a-Toga delivers the joy and fun of cycling to your living room with their first virtual film screening! You’ll be amazed by the presentations of talented local videographers, musicians, and bikers!

Monday, May 18, Local Songwriter Showcase – LIVE
Drew Wardle & Sam Reed

With the area’s only alcohol-free, all-ages, listening room Open Mic, we discover and cultivate the next generation of songwriters. During the shutdown we’ve showcased our local favorites each Monday, when we would normally be enjoying Open Mic Night.

Tuesday, May 19, Deena Chappell Trio – LIVE

Accompanied by Steve and Sam Zucchini, Deena brings her original eclectic Americana to our stage for the first time. She’s a downtown Saratoga mainstay. Her mastery of the mic comes from a lifetime of playing professionally. She can croon, rock, make you laugh and make you cry.

What are your favorite memories from the past 60 years at Caffe Lena? Send us your favorite stories and photos for a chance to win a copy of our “Live at Caffe Lena” box set and coffee table book “Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Venue.” You can email our Marketing Manager Carolyn at

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1 Comment
  1. W.C. Dowling says

    Dear Friends,
    I’m at work on a memoir that includes a chapter covering the period when I and numerous friends –Sterling Klinck, Jack Tottle, Jon Lawrence, Molly Scott, et al– came over to the Caffe Lena from Hanover NH in the mid-60s. I’d love to use the picture of Lena with the empty background, but I assume I’d need special permission to do that? (I can’t afford a fee: this book is for a very small circulation, no $$ involved.) Can you tell me if permission is needed, or, if so, how it would be possible to get it?

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