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Photo: Lori Eanes

Caffe Lena 50th Anniversary Weekend

Fifty years ago, Lena Spencer opened the doors to what would become the oldest continually running coffeehouse in the United States. A not-for-profit since Spencer’s death in 1989, the venue is a hall of folk music history, host to some of Bob Dylan’s earliest performances, and famously the place where Don McLean first performed “American Pie.”

To celebrate, the venue is teaming with Skidmore College and the city of Saratoga Springs to throw a weekend’s worth of performances.

The music starts tomorrow (Friday, May 21) at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) with a fundraiser party featuring Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur (pictured) at 7 PM. Tickets are $75, and only 75 tickets are being made available.

On Saturday (May 22), the city is closing off Phila Street and putting up an outdoor stage where there will be free music from 10 AM to 4 PM. Performers include Frank Jaklistch and Michael Eck, the Barefoot Boys, Jo Henley, Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen, Torey Adler, Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, and more.

Then, at 7 PM Saturday night, Arlo Guthrie will take to the Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall stage at Skidmore College’s Arthur Zankel Music Center, supported by Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group. Tickets are $50. For more info, call 583-0022.

Albany Symphony Orchestra

This year’s American Music Festival, arguably the pinnacle of the Albany Symphony Orchestra season, has moved to Troy. Specifically, EMPAC. And we anticipate that the addition of a central location will make the American Music Festival really feel like a festival.

The AMF kicks off tomorrow (Friday, May 21) in EMPAC’s Theatre with maestro David Alan Miller leading the new-music ensemble Dogs of Desire in works by Patrick Burke, David Mallamud and Ted Hearne—and the robots of LEMUR. (We love robots.) Tickets for the 8 PM show are $25.

On Saturday afternoon (May 22), there’s a Composer to Center Stage Reading Session in the EMPAC Concert Hall. This is the culmination of the first-ever national competition among young and emerging composers; the ASO will read and rehearse works by the three finalists. This 2 PM event is free.

The main event of the weekend is Saturday night’s ASO performance in the Concert Hall. There will be world-premiere works by James Primosch and Stacy Garrop (pictured); and performances of Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Percussion Concerto featuring Colin Currie, and John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby Suite. Tickets for the 8 PM event are $25 to $49, with student tickets $15.

The weekend ends Sunday afternoon (May 23) with a guest performance by Colin Currie with the Empire State Youth Orchestra’s Percussion ensemble. Tickets for this 4 PM show are $8.

The Albany Symphony Orchestra’s American Music Festival will be held this weekend (May 21-23) at EMPAC (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy). A festival pass good for all events is available for $60. For tickets, call 276-3921; and for more info, call the ASO box office at 465-4755.

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