Baltimore Police Sergeant plays drums in Fells Point bar, gets standing ovation

Posted at 12:38 PM, Jun 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-07 06:35:44-04

A Baltimore Police Sergeant got the chance to play with a band at The Admiral's Cup one Friday night, and it wasn't the first time he's been in front of an audience.

"I studied theater in college, I wanted to be an actor. I was in a lot of plays. I did some television work, I was in Homicide when they filmed it here," McGowan was an extra in that series, as well as season five of The Wire.

His life took a turn after college when he moved out to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

"That was a very selfish profession and I decided that I did not want to do something selfish with my life, I want to do something selfless," McGowan said.

He flew home to Maryland, went on a ride-along with his wife's aunt and realized that's where he's meant to be. He went straight into the academy and has been on the force for 18 years.

"I was a detective for a big chunk of that time, I worked in the child abuse unit for a long time, that was that was my favorite job I've had in this department... because when you put a child molester in jail that matters. I'm not saying other work doesn't matter. I'm saying that really matters. That child knows that somebody cares, that child knows that somebody, you can't take away what happened to that child but you can let them know it will never happen to them again," he said.

Working as a policeman has it's drawbacks, including stress. McGowan plays the drums to relax.

He's banged on pillows since he was little and taught himself how to play when he got a drum kit at 15 years old. He played a little in college with a band but with his career, never had the chance to perform.

That is until June 2. McGowan was parked next to The Admiral's Cup, keeping watch and enjoying listening to the band inside.

"When they took their break I noticed that the drummer in the band was a woman and I was very impressed with that, you don't see a lot of female drummers. I have two small daughters and I'm teaching them how to play the drums as well. So I just kind of connected on that level. I started talking with her and some of the guys in the band and one of the guitar players, Dave, and said you know if your drummer gets tired, I'm ready to jump in," he said.

The joke turned into an opportunity minutes later. McGowan saw a band member lean out and wave him inside. McGowan played two songs, and got a standing ovation from the crowd.

"Keep in mind there were a lot of people drinking because it's a bar, so it was a standing ovation but it was tempered by the alcohol I think," McGowan said modestly, though he welcomed the appreciation from the community he works to serve.

"That definitely helps people to remember we're just like everybody else. We give up a lot to be here to help people because that means so much to us, and just like any job there's always going to be some bad apples. Ours are highlighted more simply because we are held to a higher standard, like we should be," he said.

McGowan said the performance was a one time deal, just happy to have the opportunity.