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Caffè Lena

Caffè Lena

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The Highlights

Our Review

Caffé Lena is the oldest continuously operating folk music venue in the United States and offers programming at least five days per week. See Grammy-nominated and up-and-coming artists perform in the most intimate setting. Experience Monday’s open mic night, listen to your favorite vinyl during record club and/or bring the entire family to a Little Folks Series show. 

Aspiring actress, Lena Spencer founded Caffé Lena in 1960. After Lena’s untimely death in 1989, the café was incorporated into a nonprofit organization thanks to the dedication of her Caffé family of musicians and volunteers. The Library of Congress calls Caffé Lena “an American Treasure.”

The Vibe

Caffé Lena is all about community. There are no boundaries to age or demographic. Upon entering the lobby, you will be escorted to your table or couch to watch the show. Unless you are with a party of four, you will most likely be sitting with two new friends. It’s always fun to get to know your table-mates, many who travel long and far to attend a show.

Note: the use of cell phones is kindly discouraged after the second song of each performance to ensure the most positive experience for artists and guests.

The Music

Singer-songwriters occupy Caffé Lena’s stage, but genres have no limits. Over the course of a week, you can experience Jazz, Alt-Country, Rock, Bluegrass, Gospel and even Hip Hop. Notable artists who have (and some continue to!) graced Caffe Lena’s stage include Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Don McClean, Emmylou Harris, Judy Collins, G. Love, Ani DiFranco, Sawyer Fredericks and many more.

The History

In the early years, Lena would travel to New York and Boston to seek out performers to book at Caffe Lèna. In 1961, she hosted a then unknown Bob Dylan for what was his first gig outside of New York City. He returned to the café multiple times despite heckling from the audience.

Food & Drink

Table service is 100% staffed by Caffé Lena’s dedicated volunteers. Locally-sourced light fare, desserts, organic coffee and tea are offered during all programming. Wine and beer are offered as well, except for Monday Open Mic and during the monthly Rochman Record Club.

Tip: order the farm-to-table cheese sampler and your favorite hand-selected wine. End with the famous chocolate chip cookies (baked to order), Lena’s original recipe from 1960!

What Else?

As a nonprofit, Caffé Lena is largely staffed by volunteers and supported by members and donors. Membership at Caffé Lena offer discounted tickets, invitations to private events and more. Thanks to its large membership base, Caffé Lena is able to underwrite the expense of bringing live music to local soup kitchens, public schools and nursing homes. To learn more, visit the Caffé Lena website

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