Island musician Hudson Bausman started playing drums when he was just 2 years old, and he never lost the beat. Bausman was first introduced to hand drums by his father, legendary local drummer, educator, and philanthropist Rick Bausman.
“I was playing drums since before I could walk,” Bausman said. “I guess it was just a natural path for me.” At an early age, Bausman said, he was intrigued by the different sounds made by various kitchen utensils on his parents’ pots and pans, and they encouraged that passion every chance they got. “Instead of saying ‘No, stop making so much noise,’ they would say ‘Wow, that’s cool. Keep going,’” Bausman said.
With his parents’ support, Bausman’s interest in drumming grew dramatically over the course of his childhood, and when he was in seventh grade, he found what would be his life’s ultimate passion — the drumset.
“I liked hand drums [congas, djembes, and bongos], but I ended up deciding that I thought the drumset was cooler,” Bausman said. “And I’ve been playing pretty much ever since then.”
One thing Bausman said separates drums from other instruments is the ability for a new player to pick up a drum and immediately start playing and learning. “If you hand someone a drum, they can be satisfied right away. They don’t need to learn scales or chord progressions right away, like with a string instrument or a wind instrument,” Bausman said. “Everyone identifies with drums.”
When asked what genre of music Bausman enjoys playing the most, he said he plays what he gets called for, and finds difficulty narrowing down to one preferred genre or style of playing.
“Asking a musician what their favorite genre is is kind of like asking a movie buff what their favorite genre of film is,” Bausman said. “Every genre has its own appeal and its own feel.”
Early on in his musical career, Bausman said, he focused mainly on refining his technique and “playing things the right way.” But after many years, Bausman has fallen into place with his own playing style, and is able to stray from the traveled path and experiment more.
“Drumming is a lot more open to interpretation than I originally thought,” Bausman said. “You don’t need to sweat the details as much after you have the basic necessities really figured out.”
Bausman said creating a unique and enjoyable experience for the listener or audience member is the central goal of any musician. “It’s so much more important for people to really feel your music and be moved by it. The technical stuff is obviously very important, but in the end it’s all about how the music is received,” Bausman said.
All around the Island, Bausman has played at concert venues, private events, and some favorite local bars and restaurants.
His frequent stops are at the Ritz in Oak Bluffs, to play with the likes of Mike Benjamin, Phil daRosa, Sabrina Luening, and Don Groover. And Bausman has performed on larger stages as well — opening for Boz Scaggs at the Twin River Casino in Rhode Island, and warming up the main stage for Dispatch at Beach Road Weekend in Vineyard Haven.
Although Bausman credits a large portion of his interest in drums to his father, many other Island musicians also had an impact on him throughout his life. Bausman said Mike Tinus, a famed bassist, multi-instrumentalist, and music teacher at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, helped him find his place in a band, to be informed by other members. “It’s tough to find your place as a drummer in a band. You are the bedrock, so you need to be able to lead the group, but you also need to be able to take cues from your bandmates,” Bausman said. “It’s a delicate balance.”
As of now, Bausman is enjoying being an integral part of the music community here on Martha’s Vineyard. He plays when he wants, teaches private drum lessons, and seeks to pass on his knowledge and passion to others. “It is so incredibly fun and exciting to see someone progress, especially a young kid who was really nervous at first,” Bausman said.
For Bausman, shepherding someone through their long journey to becoming a proficient drummer is “immensely gratifying and enjoyable.”
“If we aren’t here to pass on the knowledge we have acquired over our lifetimes, what are we even doing here?” Bausman asked.
Teaching young kids to play drums brings Bausman back to the days of banging on pots and pans with wooden spoons when he was young.
Instead of following a stringent curriculum in his lessons, Bausman said he starts out by asking people what one song is that they might want to learn, then goes from there. “I like to run my lessons in a freeform way. The ambition has to be there before you can expect someone to spend time learning something,” Bausman said.
And since Bausman said it’s impossible to learn everything about music “in 100 lifetimes,” a strict curriculum can sometimes be counterproductive. “You need to get the person excited, then everything else will follow,” Bausman said.
Bausman said his favorite thing about drumming, but also about music in general, is the ability to bring people together and break down barriers.
“I know it sounds cliché, but it’s cliche for a reason. Nothing can bring people together more effectively than a good song,” Bausman said. “Music is an incredibly powerful force that we have the luxury of tapping into.”