A Selection of Holiday Music To Stream Through Freegal!

Hi everyone, the free Freegal Music Service* offers oodles of holiday albums from vintage to classical and jazz to vocal, pop, rock and more!

Here are a few titles you might enjoy during the holiday season including a couple that have nothing to do with any holiday at all – they simply have a connection to the winter season!

And if you’re in a browsing mood, check out the Freegal Music Catalog and search for some of your favorite artists – you’ll discover, while searching for songs and artists a cornucopia of cool music of all genres!

To access the browser based version of the Freegal Music catalog click here:

You can also download the Freegal Music app from the Apple or Android app stores and then listen to the music through the app.

And without further ado here is a sampling of the holiday music available through Freegal:

16 Most Requested Songs – Christmas Encore! by Various Artists (Genre: Traditional Pop Orchestral/Vocal):

Songs include: O Tannenbaum! by The Norman Luboff Choir, Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep by Rosemary Clooney, Toyland by Doris Day, Jingle Bells by Patti Page, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Ray Conniff & The Ray Conniff Singers & It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas by Johnny Mathis.

21 Christmas Classics by Various Artists (Genre: Traditional Pop Orchestra/Vocal):

Songs Include: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams, Winter Wonderland by Aretha Franklin, A Marshmallow World by Dean Martin, Must Be Santa by Bob Dylan, The First Noel by Earth, Wind & Fire and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by Hank Snow.

30 Instrumental Christmas Songs by The O’Neill Brothers Group (Genre: Instrumental w. stringed instruments): 

Songs Include: Silent Night, Silver Bells, Adeste Fideles, The Gift of Love, Jolly Old St. Nicholas and Pachelbel’s Little Star.

Acoustic Christmas by Various Artists (Genre: Classic Rock, Folk, Country): 

Songs Include: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by T Bone Burnett, Let It Be Me/The Christmas Song by Laura Nyro, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Rosanne Cash, Silent Night by the Hooters & O Come All Ye Faithful by Art Garfunkel.

Beautiful Day by Kurt Elling (Genre: Jazz): 

Songs Include: Sing a Christmas Carol, Star of Wonder, We Three Kings, Little Drummer Boy and Same Old Lang Syne.

A Blue, Blues Christmas – A Timeless Collection of Blues Songs for Christmas with Fats Waller, Leadbelly, John Lee Hooker, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Lightnin Hopkins, And More! (Genre: Blues, R&B, Pop): 

Songs Include: Silent Night, Holy Night by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Merry Christmas by Lightning Hopkins, Christmas Time Blues by Jimmy Dawkins, What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve by The Orioles and Swingin’ Them Jingle Bells by Fats Waller.

Carols from Royal Holloway by the Choir of Royal Holloway (Genre: Classical/Choral):

Songs Include: A Tender Shoot, Gabriel’s Message, Sussex Carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manger and O Little One Sweet.

Celtic Solstice by Paul Winter & Friends (Genre: New Age, Jazz):

This new age album offers up songs that complement the Winter Solstice coming up on Thursday, December 21.

Songs include: Golden Apples of the Sun, Hollow Hills, O’Farrell’s Welcome to Limerick, The Minstrel’s Adieu and Farewell to Govan.

Children’s Christmas Songbook St. Josephs Youth Choir (Genre: Classical/Choral/Children’s Music):

Songs Include: We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Colors of Christmas, Deck the Halls, The First Noel & Jingle Bells.

Nuestra Navidad by Various Artists: 

Songs Include: El Burrito De Belen by Julio Preciado, Ven A Mi Casa Esta Navidad by Banda Superbandido, Noche De Paz by Trio Los Panchoes, Regalo De Reyes by Javier Solls and Lioraras En Navidad by Pablo Montero.

Christmas by Harry Belafonte (Genre: Vocal, Pop, International, Folk):

Songs Include: A Star In The East, The Son Of Mary, Medley: The Joys Of Christmas/O Little Town of Bethlehem/Deck The Halls/The First Noel, Christmas Is Coming and The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Christmas Album by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (Genre: Easy Listening, Jazz, Pop):

This is the classic 1968 Christmas album by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass not to be confused with his new 2017 Christmas album!

Songs on the LP include: Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells, My Favorite Things, The Christmas Song, Sleigh Ride, Las Mananitas, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow and Jingle Bell Rock.

Christmas Caravan by Sultans of String (Genre: International, Acoustic):

Songs Include: Turkish Greensleeves, Sing for Kwanzaa, Jesous Ahatonhia, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, The Little Drummer Boy, A Django Christmas and Niel Gow’s Lament.

Christmas LIVE! by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (Genre: Vocal, Pop): 

Songs Include: Every Light That Shines at Christmas, White Christmas, If It Doesn’t Snow on Christmas, Heat Miser and Thank God For Kids

Christmas Rap (Genre: Rap):

Songs Include: Christmas in Hollis by RUN-DMC, Ghetto Santa by Spyder-D, Christmas In The City by Sun King and That’s What I Want For Christmas by The Showboys

Christmas Together by The Piano Guys (2017) (Genre: Easy Listening, Classical):

Songs Include: Angels from the Realms of Glory, O Holy Night/Ave Maria, Ode to Joy to the World, What Child is This and I Saw Three Ships.

Christmas with Elvis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (2017) (Genre: Pop, Rock, Classical):

Songs Include: Santa Claus Is Back In Town, White Christmas, Here Comes Santa Claus, Blue Christmas, Winter Wonderland and Merry Christmas Baby.

Christmas With Ray Conniff (Genre: Easy Listening):

Songs Include: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Christmas Bride, Sleigh Ride, Greensleeves, Silver Bells and Frosty the Snowman.

Classic Christmas by Johnny Cash (Genre: Country):

Songs Include: Joy to the World, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come All Ye Faithful and Little Gray Donkey.

Decade the Halls, Vol. 1 Tenth Avenue North (2017) (Genre: Pop, Vocal):

Songs Include: Good King Wenceslas, Deck the Halls, We Three Kings, Go Tell it on the Mountain, Mistletoe and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

December by Chris Botti (Genre: Jazz, Easy Listening):

Songs include: Winter Wonderland, Ave Maria, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!, I Really Don’t Want Much For Christmas and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

Dr. Elmo’s Twisted Christmas by Dr. Elmo (Genre: Comedy):

For fans of Christmas humor…

Songs Include: Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer, Christmas Won’t Be, Santa Ain’t Comin’, Christmas Millionaire and Junk Bond Christmas Blues.

Elvis’ Christmas Album by Elvis Presley (1957) (Genre: Rock, Pop):

Songs Include: Santa Claus Is Back In Town, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Silent Night, Blue Christmas and Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me).

The Essential Hank Snow (Genre: Country, Traditional Country):

This album has nothing whatsoever to do with winter or holidays of any sort! Except of course, for the fact that the late & great country singer and guitarist had a name that is perfect for winter– Snow!

Songs on this cool collection, which offers tunes from all phases of Hank Snow’s career, include: My San Antonio Mama, Brand on My Heart, The Rhumba Boogie, Confused with the Blues and A Fool Such As I.

Evening Guitar Chill Out by Various Artists (Genre: Acoustic, Instrumental, Easy Listening):

Acoustic Sunset by Eric Walters, Humble Love by Dvir Silverstone, Green Hills by Gary Wolk and Someday by Michelle Qureshi.

A Festival Of Carols by Robert Shaw (Genre: Classical, Orchestral, Vocal):

Songs Include: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, Shepherd’s Carol, I Wonder As I Wonder, My Dancing Day and Carol of the Bells.

From The Sony Vault: Christmas With The Big Bands by Various Artists (Genre: Swing, Jazz, Pop):

The songs on this album were recorded between 1932 and 1965 and If you like Swing than this collection is for you!

Songs include: Sleigh Ride by Tex Beneke, Ray Eberle & The Modernaires with Paula Kelly, Little Jack Frost Get Lost: (78rpm version) by Frankie Carle with Marjorie Hughes, Snow Fall: (78rpm version) by Claude Thornhill & His Orchestra, There’s Frost On The Moon by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra, Winter Weather by Richard Himber and His Orchestra and I Want You for Christmas by Russ Morgan and His Orchestra.

Gonna Have a Really Soulful Christmas: 40 R&B and Soul Gems (An Alternative Yuletide Celebration!) (Genre: Soul, R&B, Blues, Pop):

Songs Include: Crazy Santa Claus by The Debonaires, We Wanna See Santa Do the Mambo by John Greer, Wish You a Merry Christmas by Kim Weston, Santa Claus Boogie by The Voices and I Hear Jingle Bells by Freddie King.

Hanukkah by Jon Simon (Genre: Piano, Jazz):

Songs Include: Eight Candles, Rock of Ages (Italian), O Hanukkah, O Hanukkah, Candle Blessings, Rock of Ages (Traditional) and A Candle for Me.

Hanukkah Songs for Preschool & Kindergarten by The Kiboomers  (Genre: Kids Music)

Songs Include: Nine Little Candles, When the Maccabees Come Marching In, I Like to eat Latkes Song, Dreidel Hokey Pokey and Hanukkah Oh Hannukah.

Hanukkah Swings by Kenny Ellis (Genre: Jazz, International):

Songs Include: Swingin’ Dreidel, Hanukkah Candles, Ocho Kandelikas, Children of the Macabbees and ‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah.

Here We Come A-Caroling by Ray Conniff (Genre: Easy Listening):

Songs Include: Here We Come A-Caroling, God Red Ye Merry, Gentleman, Joy To The World, Adoramus Te, O Tannenbaum and It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.

Hotel Café Winter Songs by Various Artists (Genre: Pop, Vocal):

Songs include: Winter Song by Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson, The Heartache Can Wait by Brandi Carlile, Blue Christmas by Nicole Atkins, Maybe Next Year (X-Mas Song) and Auld Lang Syne by The Hotel Cafe Medley Band

Instrumental Christmas Music – Relaxing Christmas Music (Genre: Piano, Easy Listening):

Songs Include: Silver Bells, Little Drummer Boy, Most Memorable Christmas, Coming Home, Do You Hear What I Hear and Christmas Chimes.

Instrumental Christmas by the Northquest Players (Genre: Easy Listening, Instrumental, Brass, Jazz):

Songs Include: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Joy To The World, Away in a Manager, The Christmas Song, Winter Wonderland and I Saw Three Ships.

An Irish Christmas by Jeff Taylor, Jim Prendergast and Bill Verdier (Genre: Irish, Acoustic):

Songs Include: Christmas Eve, Silent Night, Wassail Song, Freeze Britches (Connaughtman’s Rambles), I Saw Three Ships and Rose in the Heather.

Irish Christmas by Alisa Jones, Mark Howard, John Mock and Stuart Duncan (Genre: Irish, Acoustic):

Songs Include: The Endris Nyght, Once In Royal’s David’s City, The Friendly Beasts, As Lately We Watched and Carol Of The Bagpippers.

It’s Christmas Again by Various Artists (Genre: Pop, Vocal, Easy Listening):

Some of the songs in this 48 song collection Include: I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm by Frank Sinatra, Winter Wonderland by Ella Fitzgerald, Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt, Jingle Bells by the Randy Van Horne Singers, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Nat King Cole, Zat You? Santa Claus by Louis Armstrong, The Secret of Christmas by Bing Crosby, The Christmas Waltz by Peggy Lee, Silver Bells by Johnny Mathis, Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms and We Wish You the Merriest by Les Brown

James Galway’s Christmas Carol by James Galway (Genre: Easy Listening, Classical, New Age):

Songs include: Shepherd’s Pipe Carol, Fantasia On “I Saw Three Ships,” Greensleeves, Zither Carol, Past Three O’clock and Christmas Oratorio.

Kwanzaa (Genre: R&B, Soul, Folk, International):

Songs Include: Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba, Tell It, Sing It, Shout It by Mahalia Jackson, Swahili Song by Teddy Greaves, Kwela Kong by Mackay Davashe & Skokiaan by Louis Armstrong.

Last Christmas – Wham! (Genre: Pop): 

Songs on the EP are: Last Christmas, Last Christmas (Pudding Mix) and Everything She Wants.

Merry Christmas with Odetta (Genre: Blues, Folk):

Songs Include: Ain’t That A-Rocking, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Beautiful Star, Shout For Joy and Children, Go Where I Send Thee.

Native Seasons by Jessita Reyes (Genre: Folk, Easy Listening, New Age):

This album, by Native American flutist Jessita Reyes, features songs for all season including: Fall Approaches, Winter Night, Echoes in the Fall, Mid-Winter’s Dawn and Clear Winter Sky.

On a Cold Winter’s Day – Early Christmas Music and Carols from the British Isles by Quadriga Consort (Genre: Classical):

Songs include: A Wassail, a Wassail, ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime, The Moons Shines Bright, The Holy and the Ivy, To Shorten Winter’s Sadness and On a Cold Winter’s Day.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Genre: Pop, Rock, Classical):

Songs Include: Santa’s Gonna Rock and Roll, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, First Letter/Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, Toyland Ball, Welcome Christmas and The Man With The Bag.

Six String Christmas John Harbison (Genre: Acoustic, Guitar):

Songs Include: We Three Kings, Frosty The Snowman, White Christmas, Christmas Past, Father Christmas and Auld Lang Syne.

Surf ‘N’ Swing Fret ‘N’ String Christmas by Nokie Edwards & The Light Crust Doughboys with Tom Brumley, The Dallas Banjo Band, Smokey … (Genre: Classic Rock, Guitar):

Songs Include: Christmas Carol Rock, Swan Lake Christmas, Deck The Halls, The Toy Yodeler, The Bell’s Of St. Mary’s and New Year’s Rendezvous

Twisted Christmas: Live by Twisted Sister (Genre: Rock, Heavy Metal):

Songs Include: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, The Fire Still Burns, You Can’t Stop Rock & Roll, White Christmas and Heavy Metal Christmas.

Very Sixties Christmas (Genre: Pop, Rock):

Songs Include: Happy Xmas (War Is Over), Winter Wonderland, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, The Christmas Song and Let It Snow by the Groovy Christmas Players, Sugar Sugar by The Archies, Thank You by Sly Stone and Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison.

Vintage Christmas by Various Artists (Genre: Pop, R&B, Vocal):

This album features 47 classic Christmas songs recorded between 1915 and 1949.

Songs Include: Christmas Bells at Eventide by Gracie Fields, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Rosemary Clooney, Auld Lang Syne by Billy Vaughn, Savoy Christmas Medley by New Mayfair Orchestra, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by The Platters, I’ll Walk Alone (Through Every Christmas) by Dinah Shore and Cool Yule by Louis Armstrong.

White Christmas by John Schneider (Genre: Country, Pop):

A classic country album by singer and actor John Schneider!

Songs on the LP include: Winter Wonderland, Silver Bells, The Christmas Song, Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer, Katey’s Christmas Card and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Windham Hill Holiday Guitar Collection by Various Artists (Genre: New Age, Acoustic, Guitar):

Songs include: Songs include: Winter Wonderland by Tuck Andress, The Holly And The Ivy by Alex de Grassi, The Christmas Song by Steve Erquiaga, Christmas Time Is Here by Sean Harkness and Carol of the Bells by Steve Morse.

Winter by Barbara Dickson (Genre: Vocal, International, Folk):

Songs include: Winter’s Come, In the Bleak Midwinter, The Silence of the Dawn, The January Man and Winter’s Song.

Winter Evening by Winter Evening Jazz (Genre: Easy Listening, Jazz):

Songs on the album include: Chill Baby, Cha Cha Charlie, Waltz for Joshua, Cloudburst, Chocolate and Round Midnight.

Have a great day!

Linda, SSCL

*Freegal is free – library card required! You can get a library card at any Southern Tier Library System member library. Just take a form of ID that includes both your name and your current address and you’ll have a card in hand in a matter of minutes!

Weekly Recommended Listens: February 2017: Week 4: Sixties Rock: Twangy Guitars Concluded

Here’s our weekly recommended music posting! We’re continuing our 2017 look at Sixties Rock by finishing out our February spotlight on Twangy Guitar players and early sixties instrumental rock.

And this week I’ve got a couple of what I’d describe as “digging deeper for music gems” artists and various artist albums. The bands and artists spotlighted this week are less well-known than the twangy guitar players whose music we’ve listened to in the previous three weeks of this month. And some of the suggested albums are various artist collections. So the music is fun but I’m going to eliminate the Brief Artist Bios section for this week. If you want to know more about the band/artists discussed you can check out a number of cool rock encyclopedia books at the library or click on one of the links in the References section.

So here are our five music sections for this week:

I. Freegal Music Recommendations Of The Week

II. CD Music Recommendations Of The Week

III. Videos Of This Weeks’ Artists/Groups

IV. Wild Card Print Book Recommendation Of The Week (a print book that focuses on a musician, musicians, songwriters or other musical genres, styles etc. from any musical era)

V. References (for those who’d like to know a bit more about the artists of the week).

And here are our recommendations of the week!

I. Freegal Music Recommendations Of The Week:

1. Surfin’ With The Astronauts by The Astronauts:


This album contains the Astronauts only hit, the instrumental Baja, and a number of other fun party songs including: Surfer’s Stomp, Susie-Q, Pipeline and Surfin’ USA. And for this listener’s proverbial money – this guitar-centric group has a slightly more mellow sound than some of the other rock instrumentalists of the era.

So if you’re looking for a mellow listen for the weekend – this is the album for you!

Here’s a link to the album:


2. Raunchy! Vol. 2: Rockin’ Into the Sixties

by various artists:


Just a quick FYI note, the title of this album is actually misspelled within the Freegal Music Catalog! They left out the “n” in the word raunchy. So if you search for this album by copying and pasting the title, instead of clicking on the link below, you’ll have to take out the “n” and type the title in as “Rauchy! Vol. 2: Rockin’ Into the Sixties! (We’ve asked Freegal to fix the typo but that may take a while…)

Now on to the album! This is an album  full of fun songs! It includes songs by some super well-known players including Duane Eddy, Sandy Nelson, The Ventures and the Shadows, and a number of artists that are less well known in the U.S., but that recorded some really cool songs nevertheless, including: Rock organic-centric tunes like Gonzon by James Booker, which also features a neat flute solo, Big Guitar by the Owen Bradley Quintet, the Jazzy Topsy II by Cozy Cole, Guitar Boogie Shuffle by The Virtues, Bongo Rock by Preston Epps, Rockin’ Crickets  by Hot Toddys, The Enchanted Sea by The Islanders and Teensville by Chet Atkins.

This is a really great collection of early sixties rock instrumentals with a few pop instrumental hits of the era thrown in too. The album contains more than 40 songs and I liked it so much upon listening to it – that I bought a copy of it! Highly recommend – in fact, I’d say if you only listen to one album I’ve suggested this week – let this be the one!

Here’s the link to stream the album:

3. Space Hunters In The Wild West by Spacemen:


In looking for information on this group online – I found only one reference that indicated they are a modern group from Sweden! But they play classic American guitar-centric instrumental tunes as if they just stepped out of 1962!

As the title of the album would lead one to suspect, most of the songs on this album have a western theme. Here are a selection of song titles: Western Express, Brave Buffalos, Smiling Poney, Lonesome Cowboy and Country Woman.

The guitar playing on this album is bright, shiny and upbeat -fast-paced songs do indeed predominate – check it out!

Here’s the link:

Freegal Notes:
To access Freegal Music from a desktop or laptop simply click on the following link:

The Freegal Music Catalog homepage will display —

it looks like this:


The Freegal Music app can be found in your app store and it looks like this:


Freegal Wild Card Pick Of The Week:

Cold Spring Harbor

by Billy Joel: 


This is Billy Joel’s first album from 1971!

And Joel is pretty popular, so I’m not going to say much about this album — except to note that if you’d like to listen to Billy Joel’s seventies albums in sequence and hear how his music has evolved over the years you can – they are all in the Freegal Music Catalog ready for you to stream!

And here are the songs on Cold Spring Harbor:

1. She’s Got a Way
2. You Can Make Me Free
3. Everybody Loves You Now
4. Why Judy Why
5. Falling of the Rain
6. Turn Around
7. You Look so Good to Me
8. Tomorrow Is Today
9. Nocturne
10. Got to Begin Again

Here’s the link to stream the album:


III. Compact Discs Recommendations:
As with the Freegal music recommendations for this week – the CD recommendation is a various artists collection of early sixties rock instrumentals with a few pop instrumentals thrown in for good measure.

Complete Pop Instrumental Hits of the Sixties, Vol. 1: 1960


This three disc set is part of a series and includes more than 80 songs including songs by: The Bill Black Combo, Bill Haley, Chet Atkins, Nat King Cole, The Ernie Fields Orchestra,The Champs, The Fireballs, Duane Eddy and many more!

Here’s a link to the request page:

Wild Card CD Picks Of The Week:

Since I’ve only suggested one CD, for those who like CDs, I’m going to suggest two wild cards picks for this week: Scorched by Mark Anthony Turnage, who plays both Jazz and Classical music, and, a great folk music, various artist collection titled Live at the Caffé Lena.

1. Scorched by Mark Anthony Turnage:


Here is the entire stellular review of this LP from the AllMusic site, written by Rick Anderson:

Commissioned by the Society of Friends and Patrons of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and recorded at its premiere performance in September of 2002, Scorched is an extended suite of large-scale reconceptions of guitarist John Scofield’s jazz compositions, scored for big band, symphony orchestra, and guitar trio. English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage has been working in the borderland between jazz and classical music since his early days at the feet of Gunther Schuller, and his orchestral elaborations on Scofield’s original themes are surprisingly insightful and exciting. Scofield himself leads the trio, which also includes the legendary drummer Peter Erskine and electric bassist John Patitucci. Turnage avoids the standard classical-jazz crossover error of trying to make an ensemble this large actually swing; instead, he creates interest with dense but agile harmonic movement and crisp rhythmic change-ups; when Scofield and his crew take over periodically in a more standard jazz idiom, the effect is one of bracing contrast. The big-band-and-orchestra generally alternates with the trio rather than plays alongside it, but there are some thrilling moments of interplay, such as at the end of “Fat Lip 2” and the brilliant “Make Me 2.” Scofield’s solo playing on the contemplative “Cadenza” is another particular treat. Very highly recommended.

Here’s a link to the request page:


2. Live at Caffe Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffee House 1967-2013 by various artists:


The Caffe Lena is located in Saratoga Springs, New York and was on the New York City area folk musicians tour circuit in the early 1960s. In fact, one of the first places Bob Dylan played, after he relocated from Minnesota to New York City in 1960, was the Caffe Lena. Folk artists both well-known, emerging and just great solid players and songwriters you never hear on the radio have played there over the years including the previously mentioned Dylan, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, David Bromberg and many, many others.

I was fortunate enough to see Bill Staines there a number of years ago when the “Lena” of Caffe Lena, founder and manager Lena Spencer was still alive, she was quite nice and it was great fun – it felt almost like sitting in my living room with friends listening to another friend play folk music!

Here’s a description of the album: Live At Caffé Lena: Unreleased performances by Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Kate McGarrigle, Rick Danko, Anais Mitchell, Sleepy John Estes, Arlo Guthrie, Sarah Lee Guthrie, and more.

Nestled in the quaint upstate town of Saratoga Springs, New York is Caffè Lena, the oldest continuously operating folk music coffeehouse in the US. Opened by Lena Spencer in 1960, this tiny room has played host to influential artists across diverse genres of music; traditional folk, blues, singer-songwriters, jazz and bluegrass. Luckily, many performances were caught on tape through the years, offering the listener a thrilling seat inside this hallowed venue. ‘Live At Caffè Lena’, a 3-CD box set, the result of years of investigative research, contains 47 tracks, all released for the very first time, alongside previously unpublished photographs. Images include selections from the archive of esteemed photographer Joe Alper, who captured many iconic, intimate portraits from the folk era of the 1960s.

‘Live At Caffè Lena’ documents an important folk universe that was and is still happening in upstate New York, a story heretofore largely untold. The release of this collection comes at an auspicious time in light of renewed interest in the New York folk scene of the 60s as depicted in the forthcoming Coen Brothers film, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis.’ The film is loosely based on Dave Van Ronk’s 2005 memoir ‘The Mayor of Macdougal Street.’ Van Ronk, a Caffè Lena regular, served as a mentor to many artists, some who would go on to eclipse his fame. His 1974 recording of “Gaslight Rag “featured on the box set references the Gaslight Café, a famed Greenwich Village venue that along with Caffè Lena was a catalyst for the folk music revival.

Caffè Lena embodied the spirit of the folk boom, the era and its artistry, building a reputation as a hotbed of creativity and connection. It was also a safe haven and nurturing space for artists, its atmosphere cultivated personally by Lena Spencer herself. She would graciously house wayward artists, sometimes for months at a time. But she was not merely a host. She championed artists, from Bob Dylan as early as 1961 all the way through the 80s until her passing. Her passion for identifying and promoting talent is evident throughout this 3-CD set. That Caffè Lena is still open for business tonight is a testament to her legacy.

‘Live At Caffè Lena’ is an important visual and audio document – 40+ years of our collective music history unearthed from dozens of “lost” tapes – night after night, show after show, through the decades – captured on tape in a tiny room in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Here’s a link to the request page:

IV: Videos Of This Weeks’ Artists/Groups:

The Astronauts live in 2012 playing Baja

And a link to a “video” which features a photo of the group in their heyday accompanied by the original recording of Baja:

Santo and Johnny – Sleepwalk 

Dave “The Baby” Cortez – The Happy Organ 

V. Wild Card Print Book Recommendation Of The Week:

women-in-rock-front-cover women-in-rock-back-cover

The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock: Trouble Girls

by Barbara O’Dair:

Granted this book was published in 1997, so you won’t find women who’ve gome up in teh rock world in the last twenty years discussed within its pages; however, it is a great read if you want to know about women in rock from the days of Rockabilly to the 1990s — for those eras this book offers a solid look at women in rock.

And here’s the official description of the book:

An impressive collection of 56 essays by 44 female writers about the role of women in popular music. Divided into six sections, the book opens with “The Pioneers of Rock & Roll: Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Rhythm & Blues, and Country” and features such artists as Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, and Patsy Cline. Subsequent chapters cover solo artists and girl groups of the ’50s and ’60s; the ladies of rock in the ’60s and ’70s; and the pop singers and punksters of the ’70s. Sarah McLachlan, Bjork, Madonna, Salt-n-Pepa, k.d. lang, Janet Jackson, and Selena are just a few of the “Divas and B-Girls” spotlighted in another chapter. The volume wraps up with “Oh You Pretty Things!: Toward the Millennium” and includes the Go-Go’s, Ani DiFranco, performance artist Laurie Anderson, and Riot Grrls like Bikini Kill. O’Dair and her troupe of well-credentialed writers have produced a comprehensive, well-written, and visually appealing volume that has an excellent index, bibliography, and discographies with each chapter.

A must-have for libraries wanting vibrant, accessible material that will appeal to adolescent readers, especially women. Review by John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

Here’s a link to the request page:

VI. References :

General References: 

Santelli, Robert. Sixties Rock: A Listener’s Guide. Contemporary Books. Chicago. 1985.

Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books. New York. 2009.

Artist/Group References:

The Astronauts: Biography by Richie Unterberger


Caffe Lena “Good Folk Since 1960” – Official Website:


Billy Joel: Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine


Mark-Anthony Turnage: Biography by Allen Schrott

Santo & Johnny: Biography by Jason Ankeny

Have a great day!
Linda, SSCL

P.S. If you have any questions about how to download or stream free music through the Freegal Music service to a desktop or laptop computer or how to download and use the Freegal Music app let us know! Drop by the library or give us a call at: 607-936-3713

*You must have a library card at a Southern Tier Library System member library to enjoy the Freegal Music Service. Your card can be from any library in the system, and the system includes all public libraries in Steuben, Chemung, Yates, Schuyler and Allegheny Counties and including our own Southeast Steuben Count Library in Corning, New York. Library cards are free and at our library you can obtain one by visiting the Circulation Desk and presenting staff with a form of ID that features both your name and your current address.