Saratoga institution

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The question came via text, two days after my mother passed away.

“Are you and Liz in Saratoga Sunday night? Free?”

A short break, then “Quick.”

“Yes, what’s up? We are here through Tuesday am.”

A few minutes passed, then a few more.

Finally the email notification pinged. Subject line “FW: Fun times at Caffe Lena!”

Long story short, thanks to the generosity and thoughtfulness of TIHR colleague and ST Publishing co-lead man Sean Clancy, Sunday night was indeed fun times at Caffe Lena.

For those without knowledge of this place-count me among that group until my first visit back on New Year’s Eve during Saratoga’s popular First Night celebrations-Caffe Lena is America’s oldest continuously operating folk coffeehouse. Folk as in folk music. Or as the place’s motto reads, “Good folk since 1960.”

Sunday’s performance was better than good, it was great.

Chris Smither was the performer, billed by Sean as “one of my favorite singer songwriters-ever.” The performance was also billed by him to maybe “provide a couple hours of escape.”

The last few weeks have indeed been difficult, and the week ahead will offer the full range of human emotion. Funerals Monday-Tuesday. Wedding events Thursday-Friday-Saturday. I supposed Wednesday is the “dark day” to borrow some racetrack lingo (this is a blog on horse racing site isn’t it?).

Smither knocked it out of the park, and our enjoyment had nothing to do with him offering us some good luck on our upcoming wedding from the stage. Nice assist Mr. Clancy.

Smither joked how he was talking with a writer in New York who described his songs as, and I’m paraphrasing, not exactly upbeat. But what would one expect from an artist who draws deeply from the blues, modern poets and philosophers? Smither describes his style as “hopeful” and that can certainly be said for his selections Sunday.

The performance was great.

The place was timeless.

And the gesture to get us there was extra special.

Thanks again.