The GRAMMY Foundation has prominently highlighted Caffè Lena through ongoing support from the Foundation’s prestigious grant program and an online video featuring Rufus Wainwright.
The Story with Dick Gordon dedicated a special program to our project featuring music digitized by Magic Shop Studio.
The Caffè Lena Folk Music Recordings Project
In 2010 we received a generous donation of archival audio recordings made live at Caffè Lena in the early 1960s. This unique collection included hundreds of reel-to-reel recordings of folk music artists like Pete Seeger, Jean Ritchie, and others performing at Caffè Lena at the height of the folk revival. A subsequent nationwide search resulted in our locating several hundred more Caffè Lena recordings. Do you have Caffè Lena recordings to share or leads to recordings? Contact usThe recordings were beginning to deteriorate and were in urgent need of preservation to ensure their survival.
In 2011 and 2012 the GRAMMY Foundation awarded the Caffè Lena History Project two consecutive grants to organize and preserve over 700 hours of archival recordings made at the venue. We successfully relocated the recordings collection to the The Magic Shop Recording Studio for preservation, where engineers Steve Rosenthal, Doug Bleek, Jessica Thompson, Kabir Hermon and Matt Zedolik have worked their magic to bring these recordings to life!
Caffè Lena Audio Samples
For over five decades (and counting!) Caffè Lena has presented the best in folk, blues, jazz, world, country, bluegrass, storytelling, poetry, theater and everything in between.
- Patty Larkin - Interview Excerpt (2012)
Long Term Preservation and Research Access
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will serve as the permanent repository for the original Caffè Lena recordings. The largest archive of traditional culture in the country, The Center currently holds over 100,000 hours of original sound recordings of traditional performances, interviews, and oral histories. Its staff will make listening copies accessible for research.
CD Box Set
We are currently laying groundwork to create a CD box set of Caffè Lena archival audio recordings in partnership with The Magic Shop Recording Studio. The set will feature: selections from 700 hours of unreleased material recorded between 1963-2011. The tapes reveal extraordinary audio quality and artwork and liner notes with celebrity musician endorsements excerpted from and cross-marketed with companion coffeetable book.Three-time GRAMMY Award-winner Steve Rosenthal is the owner of The Living Room Club and The Magic Shop Recording Studio. His clients include Coldplay, Bjork, Sheryl Crow, Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, and The Ramones. The Magic Shop facilitates high-quality audio restoration and analog to digital transfer. Projects include: "The Live Wire-Woody Guthrie In Performance 1949," the Rolling Stone Re-Mastered ABKCO Collection, The Alan Lomax Archive Series, the Historic Jelly Roll Morton Library of Congress Recordings, The Sam Cooke Collection, Frank Sinatra at the Sands, and The John Phillips Archive. Steve currently co-produces the weekly XM Radio Show "From the Living Room to the Loft."
We are exploring avenues for a potential radio series to feature the Caffè Lena recordings and oral history material from the collection.