The Upstate Beat: Free health clinic for musicians set Sunday at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs

Welsh alternative-rock trio Joy Formidable returns to the Hollow Bar and Kitchen on Friday night. (photo provided)

Welsh alternative-rock trio Joy Formidable returns to the Hollow Bar and Kitchen on Friday night. (photo provided)

UPSTATE BEAT – When Saratoga Springs blues duo Mark & Jill first traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to compete in the International Blues Challenge, singer Jill Burnham was focused on more than just blues and barbeque.

A nurse at Saratoga Hospital in her “day” job, Burnham marveled at how the Memphis festival had a pop-up health clinic, sponsored by the Blues Foundation’s Handy Artists Relief Trust Fund, which helps blues musicians and their families deal with health concerns and related financial issues.

Burnham volunteered as an RN at the Memphis clinic, which drew musicians from several hours away to have their annual health screenings done. “I thought to myself, ‘Gee, I think we have a lot of musicians in the Capital Region, and I would love to help provide routine health screenings and wellness education to my community and colleagues in the music community,’ ” she says.

Burnham’s vision comes true this weekend, when the free Musicians’ Health and Wellness Day that she organized takes place at Caffè Lena. The event for uninsured and underinsured musicians, on Sunday (Oct. 23) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is supported by Saratoga Hospital Community Health Center, Hudson Headwaters Health Network and Caffè Lena.

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Burnham hopes the free clinic fills an important need for area musicians, who often struggle to obtain affordable health care. “As an RN, it has been apparent to me that access to health care is a problem for many Americans for many different reasons,” she says.

“During the COVID shutdown, I came to realize that many musicians and other self-employed entrepreneurs were unable to access the resources available to people employed through larger organizations and corporations.”

Musicians can just show up to the clinic, although pre-registration is recommended at

The first 40 people to register receive free custom-fitted ear plugs for onstage hearing protection. The wellness day also offers blood pressure screening, dietician consultation, HEP-C/HIV screening, a Thai Chi for Musicians class, colorectal cancer screening kits, Narcan kits and information on follow-up care.

A health insurance navigator will be available for people who want help accessing affordable health insurance options.

“I am hoping to build community and give the musicians in this region access to basic routine screening and health care options they may not know they have, so they can continue to bring their music to us for many years to come,” Burnham says. “We hope to do this again in the future, if we have a good turnout and find there is a need in our community.”

The Week Ahead

— Philadelphia’s Ghost Light, known for trippy improvisational songs played in a “glorious synchronicity,” brings the Healing Tour to Lark Hall (351 Hudson Ave., Albany) on Friday, 8 p.m.
— Welsh alternative-rock trio Joy Formidable returns to the Hollow Bar and Kitchen (79 N. Pearl St, Albany), where the group played a well-received show in 2019. Friday, 8 p.m.
— Twiddle co-founder and Vermont guitarist Mihali promises reggae spirit, fluid soundscapes and chanted mantras on Saturday at Putnam Place (63a Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs). 9 p.m.
— Master storyteller Said Cleaves visits the Linda WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio (339 Central Avenue, Albany) on Sunday. 7 p.m.
— Los Angeles duo  No Age embody the spirit of early independent punk and hardcore; catch the group at No Fun (275 River Street, Troy) on Sunday. With Godcaster, Syko Friend and Sunbloc. 7 p.m.
Reach Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected]


More: Life & ArtsEverything Saratoga Springs-Ballston Spa


Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Saratoga Springs

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