Staff Spotlight: Sean Michael Dargan
Ready to learn about the man who is both behind the scenes and on stage?
Meet Sean Michael Dargan, an avid musician and current Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Music and Games Committee Advisor.
Sean Michael Dargan has been a musician all his life, beginning when he was four and picked up the bagpipes for the first time. His passion for music has only increased throughout his life, leading him to join multiple bands, release records, and now, for the past nine months, engage in a job that reflects his love and joy for music.
Read below for an insight into Sean Michael’s role within the Union, his passion for music, and an inside peek into what music you can expect to see on the Terrace this upcoming summer.
What is your role as Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Music Committee Advisor?
As WUD Music Committee Advisor, I work with the student committee to find bands and musicians we would like to bring to the Wisconsin Union music line-up. During the school year, the student committee does a lot of it. There is a student director who I meet quite often with, as well as a team of associate directors and general members (about 100 members) who I meet with every week or so too.
In deciding the line-up of music to bring to the Union, the WUD Music Student Committee has a very elaborate process that must happen before it is decided upon. Every member will have a band they are super excited about, and each member will bring a PowerPoint presentation on that band, including why they are excited for them and why the band would be a good fit to play at the Union. It is a great way to do it as everyone votes yes or no, and if the majority says yes then we try to make it happen. It is a very democratic process.
The Student Committee is in charge of booking the majority of all the music programming during the spring and fall semester, and then during the summer I work with them more to help do some of the booking.
Additionally, I also get a lot of interest from local/regional bands/musicians about playing at the Wisconsin Union, specifically the Terrace. The Terrace is a venue that many people know and love. I have to go through all the emails and inquiries sent in from musicians/bands regarding playing at the Terrace, either sending them along to the student committee for a decision or booking them myself.
What is your role as Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Games Committee Advisor?
As the Games Committee Advisor, I work with the Games Committee, the newest WUD committee, to supervise and help plan events/meetings. The Games Committee was completely virtual when they began during Covid-19, using a discord channel to meet and play games. It was really amazing to be able to still connect as a gaming community through the pandemic and I give the members so much credit for how far they have come under such dire circumstances.
This year will mark the second year as a committee, and members can finally meet in person. We currently do a game night in the Sett, every Sunday night. Members will meet weekly to play video games, board games, virtual games, they do it all! It is so great to see all the connections and passions shared between the members. The committee is open to all members of the Union, and currently we have about 60 to 100 students who participate in game night every week.
What made you want to become a part of the Wisconsin Union? What is your favorite aspect of your job as the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Music Committee advisor?
When I heard this job opened, I wasn’t necessarily looking for a day job. I was a stay at home Dad and musician at night, but my friends said, “Sean, you have to do this!”. I’ve been playing on the Terrace with my various bands for the past 20 years. My wife went to school at UW-Madison, she is a member of the Wisconsin Union, and I just love it here. It is a beautiful place and the attachment has always been there for me and my family. It’s been the perfect fit for me.
I tell folks, I am really doing the exact same thing now for the Union, that I have always done for my bands. I am just doing it for other people’s bands now. It is a really great opportunity to share the love, and to teach the students who maybe don’t have as much experience as I do.
What is your favorite part about being able to work with the University of Wisconsin-Madison students?
I love that I am able to meet with students and not only give them my expertise but also learn from them. My favorite part of working with the students is seeing how insanely smart they are. And also, they have a taste in music that continues to progress, whereas my tastes are kind of stuck in the 80s or 90s, so I have been exposed to all of these new bands and musicians through the students I work with.
I actually just went to a music festival with the student director and associate board in Austin, Texas about a week ago and I saw about fifty bands while I was there. It was phenomenal.
I feel supremely fortunate that I have stumbled into this position that really suits my personality and my skill set. I work with amazing people, the students as I mentioned are all incredibly smart, super energizing to be around, and the staff I interact with are all such amazing people.
The Union has been around for so long and it’s exciting to be a part of its long lasting legacy.
What are some of the things you are looking forward to with the Terrace season right around the corner? What can visitors to the Terrace this summer expect?
It is going to be a big season for music this summer. About two summers ago, we did not have any programming, last summer we did limited programming, meaning about one to two shows per week, this summer it will finally be back to normal. This summer, 2022, people can expect five shows a week on the Terrace! We will be holding shows on Wednesday, Thursday, two shows on Friday, and then one show on Saturday. I am really, really excited about it.
We will have a whole different variety of music to offer people, including open mic night on Wednesday, Bluegrass music on Thursday, a behind the beat Jazz series on Friday afternoons and regular pop/rock/hip hop style music Friday night and Saturday night. It is going to be great to be back.
What are some of the performances you are excited for this summer?
There is a band, actually good friends of mine, called Steely Dane, and they are a local band that plays the music of Steely Dan. They are fantastic, some of the best players in town. Steely Dane have actually been playing at the Terrace for as long as I can remember, it is going to be great having them back. Another band I am trying to get right now is called Natty Nation, a tremendous reggae band from Madison. Apart from local Madison bands/artists, I find it so exciting to see and book touring bands/artists that are able to come through Madison, that normally we might not get to see.
I am involved in a band, the Mersey Brothers featuring Sean Michael Dargan, that will be coming to the Terrace, Saturday, May 14th, for graduation weekend. It has a style of MTV, college radio rock from the 80s and 90s. I’m super excited.
Also, on Friday, May 13th of graduation weekend, a band that plays James Brown and other hits will be coming to the Terrace. They are called the Funkee JBeez, and I believe will really be loved by the parents who are in town.
Outside of the Wisconsin Union, what bands/music talents are you involved in? Where can people look to see you play? Any upcoming events?
I am involved in several bands. The band that plays my original music is called the Sean Michael Dargan band. It is sort of in the vein of Aimee Mann or Elvis Costello, it is guitar pop mainly.
I have another band I really enjoy that plays the music of the Beatles. We’re currently wrapping up a record celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles records. We play their music at the Barrymore Theater, a large, 1,000 seat theater in Madison. We consist of a 5 piece band, along with a 20 piece orchestra that plays with us. It’s always a really fun time.
I also have a brand new album that will be coming out this summer called “Only This Moment”. It will be my sixth record I’ve released, through my own label and I am really proud of it.
Who is your favorite band?
Well, I exclude the Beatles from every conversation, because I don’t think it is fair to compare most normal bands to them. But otherwise my favorite band is probably a pop band from the 80s called “The Smiths’ ‘.
What is your favorite flavor of Babcock Ice Cream, found at the Unions?
This is a tough question, I would have to say my favorite Babcock flavor is orange chocolate chip, you just really cannot go wrong with it and I would highly recommend it.
Look to the stages this summer as you visit the Memorial Union Terrace to see Sean Michael Dargan in action!
To check the Terrace performance lineup, see here.