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Documentary on Caffè Lena founder premiering on WMHT in September

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Caffè Lena, the folk music venue the Library of Congress named ‘An American Treasure,’ has hosted its share of legendary performers over the years including Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Ani DiFranco, Sawyer Fredericks, Don McLean and countless more. This staple in the Saratoga Springs community - and the music community-at-large - celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2020. Ahead of this milestone, WMHT Public Media (PBS) will premiere Lena: A Life in Folk, the fascinating story of the Caffè’s founder and matriarch Lena Spencer.
After decades of trials, tribulations, evictions, losses, and near bankruptcy, Lena saw her inspired vision of a creative gathering place for her community become a reality with Caffè Lena. Her boundless passion and perseverance served as the driving force behind her renowned venue, now known as the longest-running coffeehouse in the country and a place where folk music continues to thrive after six decades.

“I was drawn to Lena’s unbridled ambition,” states Lena: A Life in Folk producer, WMHT’s Nicole Van Slyke, “She was looking for something and she found it in a rundown building in downtown Saratoga. It was her destiny.”

The film premieres Thursday, September 19 at 8pm on WMHT-TV and WMHT’s Facebook Page (, corresponding with the broadcast of Ken Burns’ much-anticipated new documentary miniseries Country Music, premiering September 15-September 19 and September 22-September 26 at 9pm on WMHT-TV.
The community is invited to a free screening and conversation of Lena: A Life in Folk on Thursday, September 12 at 6pm at Skidmore College’s Gannett Auditorium in Palamountain Hall. The discussion will be led by Field Horne, public historian and founding trustee Caffè Lena, Inc., who was interviewed for the documentary. For details and to RSVP, please visit
Lead support for Lena: A Life in Folk is provided by Adirondack Trust Companyand Saratoga Hospital. 

WHAT: Premiere of Lena: A Life in Folk
WHERE: WMHT-TV and WMHT’s Facebook Page
PREMIERE: Thursday, September 19th at 8pm
FREE SCREENING: Thursday, September 12th at 6PM at Skidmore College’s Gannett Auditorium in Palamountain Hall

For more information, please visit or contact Danielle Sanzone at dsanzone@wmht.orgor 518-880-3510 OR Mary Gribulis at or 518-880-3523.