The most buzzed about moment at the “Light of Day” benefit concert two weeks ago was Springsteen owning the weekend’s stage but who really rocked it was 21 year old musical dynamo and singer Matt Wade.

Baby-faced with a flannel-and-torn-jeans-rocker-style, Matt, a regular performer around Asbury Park, wowed the crowd with his effortless command of the piano, mature voice and original playlist of songs written, he says, as an outlet for the struggles during a difficult breakup with a girlfriend.



Matt Wade

I spoke with Matt, who studied at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, about being a musical prodigy and, of course, what it is like for a shore guy to have groupies at 21.

TBP:  How does it happen that you start playing the piano at three years old?

Matt:  We had a player piano in our house.  I would watch the keys as it played and memorize what the keys were doing.  At first, I was just banging on the piano but then I started to figure out how to play the songs by listening to them over and over again.  I am mostly self-taught by ear.

Once I knew what the notes were called I started playing all Billy Joel songs, like the “Ballad of Billy the Kid” at 10 years old.

I play the guitar, base and drums, too, but I see the piano as the thing I am most comfortable playing.  I see the piano as this endless instrument.  There are no boundaries.  Things you shouldn’t do to a piano you can do and it still sounds good.

TBP:  You make it sound so simple.  You had the audience – most who were at least double your age – hypnotized.  What does that feel like?

Matt:  It’s the greatest feeling in the world.  The fact that people want to come watch me play and that I can have some effect on people, good or bad, is rewarding and fun.

I used to be really shy and not talk to anybody but because of my songs I feel people are hearing the real me and I started opening up and singing too.

TBP:  And now you have groupies.

Matt:  I don’t have any girls waiting in my dressing room but I have girls that say they are groupies.

TBP:  And a girl inspired you to write the music on your first album.

Matt:  I had been dating this girl for years and I found out when I saw something in her phone that she was seeing someone else behind my back and I freaked out.  I was really upset but like “all right see you later” and made an album from that.

I look at the record as a heartbreak record and like the song “Back on My Own” the best.  My new album, out in May, is much happier.

TBP:  I am fascinated by your uber-talent and creativity.  Two albums at 21 years old – what is success for a lifelong musician who grew up in the age of American Idol?

Matt:  Success to me means making a living playing music.  I do not want to exploit an art form to get laid or be famous.  I am not trying to be a John Mayer huge multi-national star.  I just want my music to be heard and be comfortable.

A big house and a car wouldn’t hurt either.

Check for his schedule.