SARATOGA SPRINGS – On Sunday, September 13, Gaffney’s Restaurant and Bar is hosting a gathering in celebration of the life of Al McKenney, from 1 to 6 p.m. Known as the “Unofficial Mayor of Saratoga Springs,” the much-loved McKenney passed away on August 15. The musical gathering will celebrate McKenney’s involvement in the community and his passion for the local music scene.
Saying that McKenney loved music is a broad understatement. The proud owner of thousands of albums, McKenney’s love and collection of music began growing when he was just a kid. After moving to Saratoga in 1971, he quickly became immersed in the folk music culture of the area. His band “Wildflowers” led him to working with Lena Spencer, the late owner of Caffè Lena. As one of the original board member of Caffè Lena, he helped publicize musical events and helped out wherever he was needed.
“He was a mentor to me. He helped me to better understand the musical world,” said Sarah Craig, the director of Caffè Lena. “He would come in and we would talk for like an hour. It was like sitting in a college class about the history of American music. For me, he brought the music alive.”
On September 13, the celebration will include light hor d’oevres, drink specials and live music from over a dozen artists, many of whom knew McKenney personally and shared his great love of music. Guests are encouraged to wear purple suspenders, which McKenney was known for wearing.
“He was the life of the party, which is how he earned his nickname, ‘Captain Fun,’” said John Baker, the owner of Gaffney’s and a friend of McKenney’s for many years. “Al was certainly a Saratoga character, a genius when it came to music. He was a brilliant guy and a special person.”
Gaffney’s is located at 16 Caroline Street in Saratoga Springs. McKenney’s celebration is free to attend, but donations are greatly appreciated.