SARATOGA SPRINGS — A folk music landmark is re-opening after several months of remodeling.
Caffé Lena on Phila Street is hosting its first concert in six months when The Suitcase Junket — a.k.a. singer-songwriter Matt Lorenz — performs Friday, Dec. 30, at 8 p.m.
Caffé Lena director Sarah Craig said she wanted Lorenz to be the first performer in the renovated space because of his do-it-yourself ethic, which includes building his own instruments.
“What I love about it is the hand craft. He’s making these instruments and creating contemporary music,” said Craig.
Since the last time it hosted a show, the 56-year-old caffé on the second floor of 47 Phila St. has been stripped to its bones and reconstructed to make the structure stronger, as well as increase the size of the venue to seat approximately 100 people.
“The performance space is still an intimate listening space, but now it’s an open square instead of L-shaped,” said Craig. “The stage is a little bit higher and bigger, and we’ve installed a new sound system and lighting.”
One of the improvements will be felt, rather than seen. The floors were redone to make them level and stronger.
“The building has been reconstructed from its bones to its skin,” said Craig. “You feel that it’s rock solid now.”
While the caffé was closed for repairs, the music rolled on. Craig found several venues around Saratoga Springs to host concerts, including a summer series at The Grove — a senior residence on Lake Avenue.
“Within The Grove is a chapel where we held performances,” said Craig. “The building’s owner … let us use the space for free, and he also let us use an apartment in the building to store our furniture.”
Craig is appreciative of the support she received from the community when it came to finding alternate venues for her shows, as well as the patience and willingness of the musicians whom she booked to perform in a space other than the caffé — long considered to be one of the prime folk music venues in the U.S.
“Across the board, people were receptive and accepting,” said Craig.