MAPLEWOOD, NJ - A couple of weeks ago, Matt Hauser was enjoying the sunshine and listening to the music at Maplewoodstock along with a lot of Maplewood/South Orange residents when he was invited to perform on stage. His friend and fellow musician, Lee Finkelstein, asked if he would sit in with Blues Rock guitarist/singer, Dave Fields, whose drummer was a no-show. He'd have to be on stage in 20 minutes. Hauser jumped at the chance.
Finkelstein a professional drummer, currently a touring member of the Original Blues Brothers Band, is the reason Hauser got his break. All Hauser lacked were drum sticks, which he got from the drummer of the next band, The Stuff Brothers.
Hauser, a composer and sound designer for commercials and documentary films, originally from Newton, Mass., has been living in Maplewood for the last 12 years. "I met with the band and asked about the instrumentation," he said, "[Fields] told me it was a Blues trio and I knew that I could sit in with this band."
This wasn't the first time he quickly filled in for a drummer at Maplewoodstock. "The only other time that I subbed that quickly was about eight or nine years ago," he recalled. The band he sat in for then was FELT, and he's been playing with them ever since. In fact, they played their Maplewoodstock After Party gig that night at Highland Place, a tradition for the band for the last six years.
The set lasted 30 minutes and included five songs. After the first three tunes, Fields introduced the band. John Meola on bass and, "sitting in on the drums, he's just jamming with us. I just met this guy, he's a local guy, Mr. Matt Hauser," he said as he pointed at Hauser. "He's a Maplewood guy. Give him some extra love." Both Fields and Meola applauded.
They lit into a fiery version of Hey Joe before closing with Fields doing Hendrix's version of the Star-Spangled Banner -- a fitting song for Maplewoodstock. Afterwards, a crowd gathered at the stage exit. "It was kind of overwhelming. I don't know how many people came up to me," Hauser told me. "I got a huge reaction from people. I still keep hearing about it from people."
He credits a big part of the crowd's reaction to Fields public declaration of Hauser's work. "He saved the show," Fields told the crowd. "I didn't have a drummer."
"It was a really notable experience, " Hauser said. The audience's reaction was overwhelmingly positive.
One of the fans brought back to meet Matt after the show was a 5-year-old boy and his dad. Hauser ended up setting the kid up with a drum teacher he knows. Maybe one that that boy will be playing Maplewoodstock.
Matt Hauser's Bands
Dave Fields complete Maplewoodstock 2014 set: