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CAFFÉ LENA


Saratoga Springs, NY


Bob Dylan, Suze Rotolo, and Lena Spencer,
Caffé Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY, winter 1961-'62 (Joe Alper)


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Every field of endeavor has its share of patrons -- individuals who remain outside the mainstream of public recognition -- whose personal contributions provide priceless nourishment for those whose achievements are more commonly acknowledged. For over fifteen years Lena Spencer has worked behind the scene as a "hostess" of "the oldest continuously running club in the country, " where warmth, congeniality, and good entertainment constitute the Caffé Lena tradition...

On May 21, 1960, the Caffé Lena opened with Jackie Washington, who was performing around the Boston area where Bill and Lena Spencer had lived prior to moving to Saratoga... Don McLean, among many others, continues to return to the Caffé Lena... Bob Dylan was one of the early performers at Lena Spencer's coffeehouse -- long before anyone knew who he was -- along with Jack Elliott, Arlo Guthrie, Jim Kweskin, Tom Paxton, Jean Redpath, Patrick Sky, Dave Van Ronk, and Loudon Wainwright III.

Kristin Baggelaar and Donald Milton, The Folk Music Encyclopedia, Omnibus Press, London, 1977, pp. 364-365.

LENA SPENCER:
When I think of highlights of the Caffé, I think about the small, day-to-day experiences because the little things have made the Caffé what it is. I's a very modest place, and it hasn't changed. I can't afford to make any changes, and if I could, I wouldn't.

ibid., pp. 79-80.


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