What a pleasure to join my colleagues Steve Rosenthal and Jocelyn Arem at Skidmore College to present on Reviving, Restoring and Re-Imagining the Music Archive. Through revisiting our work on the Caffe Lena Archive, we covered the treasure hunt (wherein Jocelyn starts with 7 recordings made at the Caffe and Steve helps her track down nearly 700!), the process of digitizing and restoring those recordings (wherein I wow the audience with "before" and "after" clips), and the ways in which Jocelyn has transformed dusty boxes of tapes and papers into award-winning box sets, books, websites and more. Jocelyn, Skidmore’s 2015 Carr Distinguished Interdisciplinary Lecturer, also took to the stage and performed a fabulous minimalist, bluesy cover of Barbara Dane's “Mama Yancey’s Advice / Love with a Feeling" with bass player Thabang Maphothoane. Did you know that lady can beatbox?
No visit to Saratoga Springs, NY would be complete without a pilgrimage to Caffe Lena. I got chills walking up the steps into the Caffe, those same steps traveled by Bob Dylan, Rosalie Sorrels, Jean Ritchie, Rick Danko, Dave Van Ronk, so many great folk singers and songwriters. Standing on stage, I could hear what I referred to during mastering as "The Lena Bump," an unnatural but wholly pleasing frequency bump around 350-400Hz that existed on nearly every recording made at the Caffe over the decades. The Lena Bump is real, and so is the magic of Caffe Lena.
Many thanks to Jordana Dym, Michelle Paquette and the Skidmore MDOCS program for making our visit possible!