I got off the phone with my dad a couple of hours ago. He was just wrapping up a weekend to remember, and I wish I could have been back east to share it with him.
A quick explanation: My dad is a member of the board of Caffe Lena, a historic little entertainment mecca in my hometown of Saratoga Springs. The Caffe just celebrated its 50th anniversary with a concert Saturday night at Skidmore College, and from the sounds of things it couldn’t have gone much better.
Caffe Lena is known around the United States for being a must-stop for folk music. (Perhaps its most famous one-time denizen, Bob Dylan, played Lena’s long ago, and there have been numerous other well-known acts). The mix of music has become even more eclectic in recent years, and the Caffe has also been a fixture for other arts such as community theatre and storytelling (my stepmother has taken the stage on many occasions). My dad, too, has played Lena’s, playing piano for a stripped-down Bob Warren Band during an era in which the establishment forbade drums (a rule that was eradicated after the death of founder Lena Spencer). And I played Lena’s many years ago myself, as part of a recital of guitar students. I performed one tune that I’d written myself with my brother and dad behind me; I also played "Hotel California" and forgot the words at one point.
Lena’s has a number of memories for me, and that’s why it was wonderful to see an article about the place’s 50th birthday circulated so widely across the country. My dad called me a few days with excitement clearly in his voice; an Associated Press write-up about the Caffe was picked up seemingly everywhere. And even neater about the whole thing – to me – was that the article was written by a man named Chris Carola, who was my very first boss in the newspaper world (save the job I had delivering the Albany Times-Union as a boy). Chris hired me as a 17-year-old to take sports score call-ins and type up odds and ends when he was sports editor for The Saratogian (which I would be many years later). He’s been in AP writer in Albany for years now.
Here’s a link to Chris’ article, which offers a little more about Lena’s and its history, as well as the big event.