Shane Guerrette's sister, Bridgette, is his keyboardist and backing vocalist. (Lawrence White)
San Francisco had its moment in American music history. I was there and experienced it. Seattle, Detroit, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles and Nashville all had their moments as well. Now, it’s Saratoga’s turn.
On New Years Eve 2018, three extremely gifted young local musicians, Sawyer Fredericks, Sydney Worthley and Shane Guerrette agreed to meet with me for an onstage discussion prior to their performances at the Saratoga Springs City Center. I focused my questions on their part in the new era of music in our area, and how it’s reaching out into the rest of the world. Fredericks, Worthley and Guerrette are at the center of a highly regarded local musical community that is growing day by day; they write and perform original compositions, each in their own unique style that typifies the “Saratoga Sound” genre.
Sawyer Fredericks needs no introduction. His résumé includes winning the eighth season of The Voice at 16 years old. He has produced several recordings of critically acclaimed original material, and set an iTunes series sales record. Sawyer’s huge voice is both powerful and spot-on key, and fits his evocative lyrics perfectly. His sincere style of performing is compelling and holds the audience in rapt attention with every word and note. Sawyer’s thoughts about his relationship with the music scene in Saratoga are vivid.
He tells me: “I started out busking for the public on the streets of Saratoga Springs when I was 13 years old and performed at open-mic nights at Caffè Lena. Performing alongside other local musicians was totally empowering. The community of musicians here encouraged me. Saratogians really love art and support artists. That environment helps artists do what they want to do in the way they want to do it. They encourage you to get started and to keep going.”
Sydney Worthley is a striking young musician who has a passionate writing style that earned her the Saratoga County Rising Star Award and top honors at the Capital Region Teen Idol competition. Sydney’s music has been described as, “Sweet, delicate love songs, powerful ballads and cutting rock numbers.” I would add: “personal and intimate” to that list. Sydney’s band consists of three seasoned musicians who provide solid support for her considerable talent. Their combined energy onstage is impressive. Her connection to Saratoga is deep and it is at the heart of the creative talents.
She tells me: “As a kid I started with the Saratoga Children’s Theatre through Mayor Meg Kelly. They gave me the opportunity to record my first song with Grammy Award-winning producer Joel Moss, which was a ton of fun. Then, I started to perform at open mic sessions in Gaffney’s with Rick Bolton. As a result, I heard other local artists who were writing their own songs and I knew I had to do that. Those early experiences in Saratoga led to where I am now, which is simply incredible.”
Sydney has a right to feel a bit overwhelmed. She is just coming off the national tour with Sawyer Fredericks whom she met by being booked for the same First Night in Saratoga Springs.
Shane Guerrette is a “Capital Region Kid” who is not as well known but has the same passion to create music from his heart and the talent to do it. His latest recording, “Wound Up,” has received critical praise for the essences of blues, R&B and rock and roll that he performs with a rumbling intensity and genuine personal connection. His music is driving and rhythmic and his voice has an edge to the smoothness that is easy for the listener to fall into. His solid and responsive band is made up of his equally talented sister Bridgette on keyboards and backing vocals and brother Brandon on drums. The audience experiences a personal family connection at each performance, which is truly quite stunning. Shane says he has a profound connection to the music scene in our area:
“Just being in Saratoga’s artistic environment inspires you to keep being creative. Fine art and music go hand in hand. It is all about expression, and Saratoga is at the heart of it. There are so many great musicians here who make you feel like you are being lifted instead of being driven down. Music is expression, and in Saratoga you feel free to express it. You feel like someone will hear it and understand it and enjoy it. That is why I love Saratoga.”
Lawrence White has been a professional photographer for more than four decades. In that period of time, his work has been published in Time magazine, Rolling Stone, Vogue and The New York Times, among others. He also won an American Film Institute award in 1994 and a New York Press Association award for his images of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in NYC.