About me


Thanks a lot!

About me

Let's start from the beginning: I was born in 1971 in Jülich, a small town in the Rhineland area. In my other life I am a vet working at the University for Veterinary Medicine in Hannover. I live in an an old school building near Hannover, together with my wife Karola Wagels and our daughter Frieda.

I started to play in 1992. My first one was a cheap one made for tourists, including a picture of a harp and shamrock. As soon as I got serious, I changed to proper makers and better instruments. Learning the instrument was not easy, as there were no workshops like you find them today.

The session in Hannover was of great help in the beginning, esp. Klaus Gehrmann. Going to Ireland and meeting musicians also helped a lot. I received plenty of support from other musicians, along with the occasional remark like "A Gentleman is a man who owns a bodhran but doesn't play it". I had the pleasure to learn from people like Stephen Campbell and Ian Smith in Donegal and my friend Eamon Jordan, who took me to my first session In Ireland. When I asked "Will I bring the drum ?" he just looked at me and said: "Of course!!".

A lot of things have developed since these days. In Hannover I joined DeReelium, then was asked by the German uilleann pipes society if I could do workshops for them. At the tionols I met other musicians and Steampacket and Cara were formed. Cara was taking me all over Europe and the US, which was a great pleasure. In 2018 I left the band because touring and family (and the normal job!) were no longer compatible.

Together with Guido Plüschke I developed the BodhránWeekends and I teach regularly at other workshops. Since 2005 I had the great honour to teach every year at the renowned Bodhrán Summerschool Craiceann on Inis Oírr.

People say my style is mixture of traditional pulse orientated playing and the more extroverted top end style. This is something I like. Many other players have influenced me, among them Brian Morrissey from Nenagh, John Joe Kelly of Flook, Frank Torpey, Mel Mercier, Jimmy Higgins, Tommy Hayes, Junior Davey, and Eamon Murray.
Two players will always be special and inspirational: Seamus O'Kane und Johnny McDonagh. I learned a lot about the pulse from both of them and they showed me what's really important in bodhrán playing.

I would like to thank all the players and musicians I had the honour to play with and who enriched my life with their music.

1993

my first real bodhrán

After a year of taking my first steps on a tourist bodhrán I bought in a music shop in Donegal Town, I bought my first real bodhrán at the Folk Festival in Rudolstadt at Brendan White's stand.

Brendan had actually made this drum, which Andrea Brodie found under the sales counter, for himself. During the session pictured here, I was able to convince him after a long time to sell this drum to me. I still have it today...

1994/1995

First steps

So now things were about to start...there was a lot of practice at home and together with Georg Möller (RIP) on concertina and Andrea Brodie on fiddle, there were even two excellent musicians in Irish folk among us students at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, who have always supported me. The picture shows Andrea and me at a spontaneous little performance in the lecture hall of the Department of Anatomy at our university.

I got to know more and more musicians in Hanover, especially through the session at the Notenkiste in the Nordstadt.

1996

DeReelium

I joined DeReelium in 1996. At that time the band consisted of Barbara Steinort, Klaus Gehrmann, Georg and Michael Möllers and Riner Köhler. In between, Claus Steinort, with whom I later played with Steampacket and Cara, was also in the band. We had many gigs in and around Hanover and also some in Germany and the Netherlands.

1996

First workshops

In 1996 I was also asked for some workshops for the first time, my very first workshop I gave in Nuremberg for the Comhaltas Branch which was active there at that time. The photo is from an early workshop in Rüsselsheim.

1990s

Travels to Ireland

I travelled to Ireland for extended periods several times in the 1990s. In 1992 and 1993 I spent many weeks in Donegal, after that I travelled by camper van at least once or twice every year. In 1995 I was in Donegal (Gweedore) for almost half a year. Many contacts were made there and so the picture above was taken at a session after a concert with Altan in Glencolumbkille in 1997.

1999

Millvalley

After I had already been invited as a guest on a few CDs, we released our first (and only!) CD with DeReelium in 1999. Recorded in an old cinema, almost live, and mixed by Michael Möllers and me in my bedroom in Kleefeld. Michael had to go shopping for toothbrushes etc. because it took much longer than expected. You can listen to it here, track 3 is my recommendation.

1999

Auf Tour mit den More Maids

After I was invited to be a guest on the More Maids CD "Mary is busy...too busy to marry", I went on my very first tour with the Maids in autumn 1999. That got me pretty hooked and since then there have been countless tours. But the first tour always remains something special!

The picture shows Gudrun Walther, who played fiddle with the More Maids back then, and yours truly at a festival in Bobenheim.

1999

Steampacket

In the same year I founded the band Steampacket together with Stephan Schneider, Andreas Lassak and Claus Steinort. Shortly afterwards, Tina Terrahe (née Fastje) joined. A real project of the heart, a pure tune band. We had a lot of fun together, legendary rehearsals in my kitchen and nights in the Kleefelder Eck, the pub around the corner.

1999

Sessions in Hannover

The session scene in Hanover has always been very active, and in 1999 it became even more active: back then, the weekly Sunday session was established at the Irish Harp in Linden. We were invited to be part of the opening of Geraldine and Shay MacGowan's pub and the session developed from that. In the meantime, the session has moved a few times, but since then you have the opportunity to be at a decent session in Hanover at least once a week. 

early 2000s

Guest appearances

I was invited more and more often to play with other bands. First and foremost by my friends from An Tor, whom I met in Donegal in 1996 and who are still active today. Plus a nice gig with Jens Kommnick and Siobhán Kennedy in 2001 at the CeBit and as a guest musician with Tin Whistle Guru Olaf Sickmann.

2001

Homecoming

In 2001 we released our studio album "Homecoming" with Steampacket. "Homecoming" is an album that was received internationally with a lot of respect and is still considered a source of inspiration for numerous musicians. Even after more than 20 years, I can still find something very special in it and it is one of the few "own" albums I like to listen to again. You can listen to it here:

2002

The first BodhránWeekend

Together with my friend and colleague Guido Plüschke, I founded the BodhránWeekends in 2002. Since then, the BodhránWeekends have established themselves as a nationwide meeting place for bodhrán players of all levels and are the most successful workshop series in the field of "bodhrán" in Germany. 

Discography

Triangle - Peter Kerlin & Ian Smith with Jens Kommnick
Pieces to remember - Melanie Mau & Martin Schnella
Live - Cara
Gray Matters - Melanie Mau & Martin Schnella
Yet We Sing - Cara
Whistle Man - Olaf Sickmann
Swift as a Swallow - Crosswind
Mirage - A Portrayal Of Figures - Flaming Row
The Brendan Voyage - Rüdiger Oppermann
Horizon - Cara
BodhranInsight - Guido Plüschke und Rolf Wagels
From Hamburg to Galway - Guido Plüschke
Watergrasshill - Johannes Schiefner
Long Distance Love - Cara
In Full Swing - Live - CD & DVD - Cara
In Between Times - Cara
Blue - Colman Connolly, Tobi Kurig, Franzi Urton
In Colour - Cara
Sommertiefe - Olaf Sickmann
Homecoming - Steampacket
Mary is busy..too busy to marry“ - More Maids
Millvalley - DeReelium
The North Sea Chinaman - Stefan Lups
you’ll never know... - Allan Cortez & Tommy Kraus

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