I’m just a wanderer crossing the field of time,” says Sam Pacetti, displaying that sense of deeper understanding that has gained the St. Augustine native and acclaimed musician a following of fans and friends reaching far beyond the threshold of our historic city gates. “Music was never anything I had intended,” he says. “My grandfather and my father played guitar, and I started taking lessons when I was eleven, but it wasn’t until I was thirteen that I really became interested.”
Though he’s had a wide range of musical influences, the one that stands out to many who know Sam is the Florida native storyteller and folk musician Gamble Rogers, with whom Sam took lessons and became friends in his sophomore year of high school. “For years, people called me his protégé. I resisted that term because I misunderstood the definition of it. Then, I realized there was truth to it because Gamble had gone before me and, in a sense, I was carrying on what he had started.” Rogers died unexpectedly on October 10, 1991. They had known each other just one year.
In the years surrounding his short time with Rogers, Sam was a student at St. Augustine High School, where he attended guitar class with the classically trained Gary Piazza. And as an adolescent, the guitar became a tool of personal well-being for him. “On one level, it allowed me to escape some uncomfortable personal situations,” he says. “On another, it helped me discover focus and concentration. The guitar became a method to organize my inner world, which was turbulent and chaotic.”
After graduation, Sam spent almost a year living in Ireland that “awakened his sense of creativity.” Upon his return stateside and finding that his musical career had begun to take shape, Sam went through a self-described “transformative challenge” and began to deal with the effects of emotions and painful memories that had been suppressed for many years. What resulted was a skepticism of fame and fortune and a three year hiatus from music. “Eventually, I realized that if I stopped playing and performing, part of me – perhaps the most important part – would atrophy and die,” says Sam. “Luckily, the music stayed with me, but I never recaptured the need for recognition.”
Growing from those struggles, Sam has shaped a unique style that he describes as “Musical Chameleonship,” combining the styles of the baroque, Celtic and Irish music, Bluegrass, and American fingerstyle guitar. He describes his own material as “quasi- transcendent influenced.” His authenticity and humility have become his signature and the basis of his fans’ admiration. However, perhaps Sam’s love for mankind is his greatest attribute. He says, “I want every person who reads this to find some small way everyday to lessen suffering in the world.”