In 1960, burgeoning actress and defiant dreamer Lena Spencer opened a small, grassroots coffeehouse in the quaint upstate New York town of Saratoga Springs and ended up providing a cultural contribution that would change music history forever. Caffè Lena’s humble stage regularly welcomed musicians such as a young Bob Dylan in 1961, the singer/activist Bernice Johnson Reagon in 1962, and a pre-“American Pie” Don McLean in 1965.
Quickly, Caffè Lena took its place among the nation’s foremost incubators of an American folk movement that inspired a generation of musicians and artists. Now, thanks to years of dedicated digging and detective work by the Caffè Lena History Project comes Caffè Lena: Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse a collection of more than 200 never before seen, evocative images and stories from Lena’s secret memoirs, and rescued negatives.
The performers of the time were more than musicians–they were also poets and crusaders–and they carved a permanent space for themselves in the hearts and minds of this generation, this book celebrates them. Read more from the New York Times about the Caffè Lena History Project.
For readers of Music and Cultural History.