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Tribute To Saratoga Musician, Business Owner Matt McCabe In The Works

Matt McCabe performing in a virtual performance at Caffe Lena in December 2020
Caffe Lena/YouTube
Matt McCabe in a virtual performance at Caffe Lena in December 2020

Matt McCabe, a pillar of the Saratoga Springs music community and a former city councilor, recently died after battling COVID-19. As WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, a tribute is being planned in his honor.

Matt McCabe’s Saratoga Guitar stores have been a longtime staple of the Saratoga business community. Deann Devitt, President of the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association, said news of McCabe’s death this week was a shock.

“It was at first very shocking and heartbreaking. Of course Matt was just a huge pillar of knowledge and selflessness in this community. It was a complete shock to all of us,” said Devitt.

McCabe was a longtime friend of Mayor Meg Kelly, who knew him from politics and music.

“He will be so missed, it hurts me to the core,” said Kelly.

Kelly said she sought advice from McCabe when she entered politics. McCabe served two terms on the city council in the early 2000s as Finance Commissioner.

The city council is planning to formally recognize McCabe next month.

“We will be bringing a proclamation and declaring Matt McCabe Day February 20th,” said Kelly.

Preparations are under way for a virtual Matt McCabe Day celebration at Caffè Lena. Executive Director Sarah Craig acknowledges the experience won’t be quite the same as the memorial many will want – gathering everyone together to “sing their hearts out,” as she puts it.

“We’ll find some way to replicate as much of that experience as we can through the cameras and the broadcasts and put together something really meaningful,” said Craig.

Craig is also working with local musicians on the tribute, including McCabe’s longtime friend Rick Bolton. Bolton, a fellow Saratoga Springs musician, remembers McCabe’s generosity – saying he donated hundreds of instruments over the years.

“He was especially interested in kids going to school that might need a trumpet or a violin or a clarinet – it didn’t necessarily have to be a guitar,” said Bolton.

Bolton said his friend’s generosity extended beyond musical instruments to volunteering to deliver meals on Thanksgiving or helping build a neighbor’s fence.

Craig says McCabe’s example in music and as a person will live on.

“We should seek to emulate that example that he set for all of us, in terms of taking care of each other, not competing, supporting one another, giving everything you have,”’ said Craig.

McCabe died Tuesday. He was 63.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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