Player Profile: Tad Sargent
This is part of a series I’m working on where I send interview-style questions to some amazing bodhrán players. I’m really excited about these, and I hope you all enjoy them!
Here’s a new player profile with London based bodhran player, Tad Sargent. So glad Tad was able to share this with us!
Also, I’ve had lots of people asking lately what tipper I’m playing in some of the videos and the hotrod style stick I really love right now is this one Tad makes.
Hope you enjoy 🙂
How did you get started playing the bodhrán? Tell us a bit about yourself and your story.
I love Ireland. Specifically Co. Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. It’s where I went three times a year as a kid up until the age of 12. My parents then stopped going to Ireland. For 5 years I went through my teens living in London. Jumping out of biology class, sticking coins to the floor of corridors, and pranking as many teachers as possible. In short, I had no drive, no skills, bottom of all classes.
That all changed when I was 16. I met Mick O’Connor and other great London Irish musicians in south west London. I was parked at the bar sinking Guinness and I fell in love with the music. I guess it reminded me of Ireland and all the happy memories of listening to Irish music whilst driving over The Connor Pass, Slea Head, and all the other stunning places in that part of the world. I stuck around for a year and just listened. I made request after request for Irish pub classics. I thoroughly made a nuisance of myself by singing Fields of Athenry, Cavan Girl, and Dirty Old Town. In short, I was drunk, happy, and totally unaware of what a jig or reel actually was.
After a year of loyal membership to the barstool during the session, I made a request to an old fella called John Gilmartin. He had a battered old bodhran and played it dead simple, but the beat was always bang on. The legend showed me the basics then lent me his drum for the week. I practiced to The Chieftains none stop 4 hours a day. I went back the following week and joined in. John did one of the kindest things anyone can do for a young person who had no aspirations in life, he lent me his bodhran for another 6 months. The rest was just practice, followed by session, followed by practice, and eventually gigs. In short, I love this job, I drink less, and I even know what a slip-jig is!
Who has influenced your playing the most?
There’s three bodhran players who have (indirectly) influenced me. John Joe Kelly, Kevin Conneff, and Donnchadh Gough.
What do you do to stay inspired as a player?
Play with as many great musicians, and styles of music as possible. I’m not a traditionalist, and I hate rules when it comes to art. If it sounds good to me, then I’m inspired.
What is the biggest struggle you’ve overcome with your playing?
Which bodhrán/sticks/case do you currently use?
My own when I can! I think I play some fellas hard sticks in germany, but I can’t be sure who made it. (if anyone knows I’d be grateful as they’re savage). My own hotrod style sticks work best for me.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting to learn the bodhrán?
Learn guitar or bouzouki as well. Both work well together. And if you want to truly understand how to accompany Irish music, learn a melody instrument as well. Tin whistle is piss easy, and great craic!