Caffe Lena, the oldest continuously operating folk music coffee house in America, is located in the unassuming town of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and has hosted a multitude of folk music greats. The coffee house fostered the growth artists from Bob Dylan to Pete Seeger, thanks mostly to the devotion of its namesake Lena Spencer. Housing artists on the rise herself, sometimes for months at a time, it’s difficult to imagine where folk music in the United States would be without Spencer and Caffe Lena.
It’s for that reason that the Caffe Lena History Project was founded. Collecting photographs, mementos and live recordings from the coffee house’s legendary history, a resurgence of notoriety for the coffee house is sure to spark interest in young folk fans and evoke memories for the old. As a part of the project, San Francisco’s Tompkins Square Label is set to release Live At Caffè Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse, 1967-2013, a compilation of tracks from the colorful list of artists that have called Caffè Lena home at various points in their careers. From Pete Seeger to Anais Mitchell to Tift Merritt, this compilation will reflect on three disks worth of special moments at the historic spot.
You can listen to Ramblin’ Jack Elliiot’s contribution, his performance of “Pretty Boy Floyd,” in the player below. Live At Caffè Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse, 1967-2013 is set for release on Sept. 24.