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Air Force Artisans: Tech. Sgt. Josh Tarrant

Tech. Sgt. Josh Tarrant, Joint Space Operations Center laser clearinghouse NCO in charge, poses for a portrait with his drum sticks Sept. 2, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Tarrant is an avid drummer and has merged his two passions, the military and music, by becoming involved with Tops in Blue. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Josh Tarrant, Joint Space Operations Center laser clearinghouse NCO in charge, poses for a portrait with his drum sticks Sept. 2, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Tarrant is an avid drummer and has merged his two passions, the military and music, by becoming involved with Tops in Blue. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Editor's note: This will be an ongoing series highlighting the diverse talents and artistic passions of Vandenberg Airmen.

The first thing that many people notice about Tech. Sgt. Josh Tarrant, Joint Space Operations Center laser clearinghouse NCO in charge, is a small smile that always seems to be present on his face. Some people would describe this smirk as having sarcastic characteristics, and indeed Tarrant confirms that this sarcastic smile is one of his trademarks.

Beyond the smirk however, and beneath the uniform that he wears on a daily basis, lies the heart of a drummer. As much as the military defines who Tarrant is, music has been his steadfast companion throughout the journey.

Tarrant's passion for music and the military were not always in harmony. Choosing between a dream and the necessity to provide for his family was a struggle, but in the end family won.

"A few years ago, I was at a crossroads between pursuing my passion of music and leaving a career I had been in for more than 10 years," said Tarrant. "The dream has always been to play music for a living, but the reality is that it's a hard life. So my wife and I prayed about it at length and ultimately we decided to stay on active duty."

A solution soon presented itself that allowed Tarrant to have his metaphorical cake and eat it too; he toured as a drummer with Tops in Blue in 2012.

"My Tops in Blue tour was the perfect way for me to follow my passion for music while continuing to serve," said Tarrant. "I have always played on my off duty time; doing something that I love. But Tops in Blue was the first time it was Tech. Sgt. Josh Tarrant - drummer. That was the first time it was all at once - not only was I performing but I was another musician's supervisor and my boss was about to sing a solo. It was a whole new experience."

Tarrant's experiences as both an Airman and a drummer found the perfect way to jive with each other, and instead of forcing him to choose between them, struck a balance that can be so hard to find. 

"My Tops in Blue experience opened up my musical perspective a lot," said Tarrant. "I used to only play rock or metal. I had to learn to play a variety of music and that experience really opened me up to appreciate every type of music. I really enjoy country music now because of its simplicity, everything is on purpose and there is space for storytelling and space to breathe. I continue to seek out new musical challenges to enhance my ability since different genres require different skills. I strive to be able to sit down at any gig and play true to the song, that's the most important thing."

Tarrant, although currently working on other projects, stays involved with Tops in Blue and helps coach upcoming tour members.

"For the last two tours since 2012 I have gone back as a staff member," said Tarrant. "Helping with video production, contestant coaching, and panel judgment for future teams. I work with the folks that are auditioning to be the next tour group. I hope to continue support for the program and the talented Airmen involved."

Tarrant was stationed in Colorado for the first 14 years of his career, which allowed him to develop lasting connections with other musicians and work on more involved projects.

"I performed with a Christian rock group for about six years; I did part-ways as a full time member of the band when I toured with Tops in Blue," said Tarrant. "But when I returned from the tour I recorded their last studio album. I went to Illinois and worked with a small independent label. One of the singles that I recorded with them just climbed to number five on the Billboard charts for the genre. The band is doing very well, continuing to tour on the Christian circuit with their current drummer and we all remain great friends to this day."

As many military members will tell you, making personal sacrifices comes with the territory of serving, but finding the groove between the military and personal interests is more than possible, as Tarrant has demonstrated.

"Personal goals are hard due to the amount of time required to become an expert," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ernest Miller, JSPOC laser clearinghouse section chief. "A lot of good Airmen are A-type personalities and have a desire to excel at whatever endeavors they undertake. Spending hours pursuing a passion may not be available due to work hours and spending time with family. Tech. Sgt. Tarrant has a great outlook because he seems to balance the mission with home life and has various outlets for his music."