SARATOGA SPRINGS — Matthew McCabe, the music store proprietor who touched countless local musicians with his advice and words of wisdom, died of complications from COVID-19 on Tuesday, Jan. 12. He was 63.
McCabe was ever-present within the music scene. If not supplying musicians with the coveted tools of their trade, then he was actually performing before crowds at Caffe Lena. He opened the doors to his first music store in 1994, and from there created a bond with a community many shared after learning the news of his death.
“He was one of those people you felt you’d known all your life upon meeting him,” said Jeff Brisbine, who first met McCabe 22 years ago to buy the first of his many guitars. “Through the years, he was always helping all of us crazy people who chase their muse and love of music.”
Photographer Jacob Veitch worked seven years at Saratoga Guitar. He recalled McCabe as a great leader, role model, musician, “and an even better friend.” After leaving the store and attempting to establish himself as a photographer, Veitch remembered how McCabe helped him to land a shooting assignment for the cover of Saratoga Local Living guide.
“Matt was a man of his words and did his best, no matter the circumstances, to make sure every local musician had the platform that they deserved in this city,” said Veitch. “From the first time I met him as a young kid, he helped nurture my love for music by letting me come into his store and play countless instruments to my heart’s content.”
The Saratoga Downtown Business Association remembered McCabe in similar ways as it paid tribute to its former board member. “This goodbye is one that impacts our entire community,” they wrote.
“Although a busy man running multiple businesses, Matt always had time for a kind word or conversation and was more than willing to help out fellow business owners with whatever they might be coping with,” the downtown business association shared in a statement.
His 20 years with the downtown business association was marked by his contributions to various committees, his recruitment efforts, and shared knowledge gleaned through his two terms as city commissioner. His stewardship to the greater community was captured by how he often extended an invitation to talk about pressing issues at City Hall — “C’mon down to the Bunker.”
“Matt loved this community, he loved being in Downtown Saratoga, and he loved all of the people – and dogs – that came through the store over the years,” said Charlie McCabe, through the store’s social media outlet. “The outpouring of support that we have seen already has been incredible. It’s good to see the community loved him as much as he loved it.”
Charlie McCabe had recently been helping upload videos of Matthew’s performances onto YouTube, something he said he will continue to do until he is finished. A musical tribute to Matthew McCabe will be held at Caffe Lena on Saturday, Feb. 20 as part of a community-wide celebration of his life.
“He and his shop were always there to provide opportunities for locals who were pros or who were curious about the guitar and wanted to start their own journey. It didn’t matter who you were – he was always there and willing to lend a hand,” said Zac Rossi. “The motto of Saratoga Guitar has always been: ‘It’s not the price of the guitar, it’s the heart of the player.’
“It resonates now more than ever,” he said.