Caffe Lena’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur
Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur

Yes, it was a half-century ago that Lena Spencer first opened the doors to a small second floor coffeehouse in Saratoga Springs. Since that day in May of 1960, Caffe Lena has hosted thousands of singers, songwriters, musicians, actors, poets and artists of all stripes.

The Caffe has weathered difficult economic times, as well as the death of Lena herself in 1989. But Caffe Lena just keeps on keeping on, due in large part to the countless volunteers who keep the place running, the managers who have been at the helm since Lena passed away – including current director Sarah Craig – and the fans who continue to flock to the landmark coffeehouse.

Caffe Lena’s half-century celebration weekend will take place Friday and Saturday, May 21-22.

The Friday evening benefit concert for the Caffe will be headlined by the legendary Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur. Together, they spearheaded the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, which launched the 1960s jug band revival that still echoes today. In recent years, Muldaur has become a mainstay on the Caffé calendar as a solo artist, but his reunion with Kweskin will make this a very special night to remember.

Beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served at the fundraiser, and the Caffé will unveil its plans for the renovation of the historic 47 Phila Street location.

During the day on Saturday, Caffe Lena hosts a free folk festival that will feature a slate of favorite Lena performers from throughout the years including Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys, the Figgs, the Barefoot Boys, Don & Victoria Armstrong, Torey Adler, Jo Henley, Frank Jaklitsch, Rosanne Raneri and others. Performances will take place inside the Caffe, as well as outdoors on Phila Street. The fest will also feature children’s music and fun activities in the Caffe’s Black Box Theater.

And as previously announced, the anniversary weekend will be capped off on Saturday night by a concert at Skidmore College’s new Zankel Music Center featuring longtime Lena’s supporters and performers Arlo Guthrie and Robin & Linda Williams and Their Fine Group.

Here’s the recap on the weekend:

Caffé Lena 50th Anniversary Fundraiser
featuring Jim Kweskin & Geoff Muldaur
7pm Friday, May 21
Caffé Lena, 47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs
Admission: $75
Tickets: 1-800-838-3006,

Caffé Lena 50th Anniversary Festival
featuring the Figgs, Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys, Rosanne Raneri, Don & Victoria Armstrong, more
10am-4pm Saturday, May 22
Caffé Lena and outside on Phila Street
47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs
Admission: Free

Caffé Lena 50th Anniversary Concert
featuring Arlo Guthrie
with Robin & Linda Williams and Their Fine Group
7pm Saturday, May 22
The Zankel Music Center, Skidmore College, 815 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs
Doors open at 6 p.m.
The Zankel Music Center is fully handicapped accessible
Admission: $50
Tickets: 1-800-838-3006,

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