SARATOGA SPRINGS — It wasn’t prompted by a premonition of a global shutdown of live music due to a deadly pandemic, but the fact that the timely, existential refurb of the venerable Caffè Lena included a better-than-needed(?) audio upgrade and multi-camera video installation was, nonetheless, prophetic.
At this writing, fourteen months from the onset, we’re not out of the woods, but we have started to let small, pre-screened patrons into the rarified air, (literally), that has, even in the throes of COVID-19, continuously echoed with live music for more than 60 years. The streaming, the suddenly commonplace connection that allowed our gregarious nature to find digital refuge, will continue.
Purists may argue that the experience, the visceral, touchy/feely, sing-along, chocolate chip, in-person version is diminished by being teased out over the internet. I prefer to think that the two, very unique, experiences form a complimentary new hybrid.
Being physically present has layers of sensory stimuli that we are still unable to produce remotely; the natural sound, of course and the aromas and the lights, the clamor and the camaraderie, the exchange of energy between audience and performer, the afterglow and the merch… did I mention the cookies? But the music, the words, the melody and harmony, the pluck of a string and beat of a drum, the poetic truth that stirs our souls and imaginations and taps our toes cannot complete its journey from thought to pen to paper until its performance reaches some ears, and the more ears, the better.
From coast to coast, Canada to South America, Europe, Asia and Africa, Caffè Lena’s concert streams are broadening the outreach of the venue’s dedication to the art while expanding the fan base of some of the world’s finest musicians. And…in a more perfect world…when it’s safe, perhaps some of those new, streamer fans in Brazil or Senegal or Kuala Lumpur will find their way to Phila St. We have cookies.
Joel Moss is a Grammy Award-winning record producer, Saratoga Springs resident and the Caffè Lena streaming producer and archivist.