Pencils, Guitars, and Coffeehouse Culture at Caffe Lena
Caffe Lena partners with Blackwing Pencils for a special benefit concert celebrating the release of a new pencil that honors coffeehouse culture.
The coffeehouse tradition dates back hundreds of years, but it’s a concept that’s right for today according to two businesses that might not seem to have much in common. Saratoga’s Caffe Lena, a folk music coffeehouse that opened in 1960, is the poster child for a new Blackwing pencil celebrating coffeehouse culture. ”Blackwing 200 is a tribute to coffeehouses like Caffè Lena and the creative culture they cultivate,” says the California-based pencil company.
Blackwing pencils were made famous in the 1930s by writers and composers such as E.B. White, John Steinbeck, Stephen Sondheim, and Archibald MacLeish. These days Blackwing not only produces pencils but also operates a record label for independent musicians and donates profits to school music programs. When they went looking for a genuine coffeehouse to symbolize their new pencil, they came to Caffe Lena.
“Since the 1950s, coffeehouses in America have been a cornerstone for the creative counterculture. From emerging artists to beloved icons, they provide a space for artists, poets, and musicians to share ideas and hone their craft,” Blackwing wrote as part of the rollout.
Each pencil features a metallic copper design inspired by classic copper coffee roasting machines found in many coffeehouses during the ’50s and ’60s. These pencils also feature our firm graphite core that is perfect for finding inspiration in a local coffeehouse.
“Our founder, Lena Nargi Spencer, who actually introduced espresso to Saratoga, was very aware of the European coffeehouse tradition. It’s a place for new art and lively discussions. To be a model for that is a real honor in a day and age when the world really needs good art and deep thinking,” said Caffe Lena director Sarah Craig.
Not only is the venue benefiting from exposure to the pencil’s devotees, but Blackwing has underwritten a benefit concert for the nonprofit venue that will take place on Wednesday, April 13th at 7pm. The goal for the benefit is to raise $2,000 for Caffe Lena’s music and educational mission.
The concert at Caffe Lena will feature Johnny Irion, a renowned singer-songwriter who has shared the Caffe Lena stage many times with Sarah Lee Guthrie. Irion will be joined by the Troy-based three-part harmony trio, The Hold On Honeys.
“As Caffe Lena enters into its 62nd year of operation, it’s important to not only celebrate the legacy of this cherished venue but to look to the future,” says Irion. “It’s an honor to play a part in preserving this sacred space and the folk tradition for the next generation.”
Tickets for the concert are $20 and are available to purchase at www.caffelena.org. Proof of vaccination is required for all in-person attendees. Caffe Lena’s full menu will be available for purchase at the show along with the new Blackwing 200 pencil. The show will also be live-streamed on CaffeLena.TV, the venue’s live streaming platform, and available to view for 1 week after the concert.