Twenty-plus years ago, Tom Kellar was a singer/songwriter playing any gig he could get in the Sacramento and Bay Area with his band The Texas Midgets. With an almost phobic aversion to playing live, battling nerves and nausea before nearly every show, and in a band that had its share of alcohol-induced drama, eventually Kellar decided the business of making music not for him. He married, fathered a son and through the years held a variety of jobs. The one thing that didn’t change was his passion for songwriting.
“Basically, for two decades, I made music in the basement with my guitar and home recorder,” Kellar said. “I worked hard at it. It could be the longest case of woodshedding in history.”
Several years ago, Kellar met and became friends with guitarist Brian McCommas. Discussions about playing live and getting Kellar’s originals out into the public domain soon followed. After several false starts, a chance open-mic encounter became the catalyst for starting a new band.
“I decided to show up at a Cooper’s open mic and got up to do a few songs by myself,” Kellar said. “During the second song, suddenly I could hear this African drum behind me. I turned around and there was Chad Conner Crow (Earles of Newtown and Grease, Grit & Grime) playing my song, and it sounded great. I thought ‘I have to do this.’”
Along with Crow, It wasn’t long before Shelby Snow (Achilles Wheel) Kellie Garmire Bradley (Billy Bensing and Kelly Garmire) and David Carroll had joined Kellar and McCommas to form Sonora Aero Club.
“It’s so incredible to hear my stuff being played by this amazing group of musicians,” Kellar said. “I could never thank them enough for the fun and joy they’ve given me while getting Sonora Aero Club off the ground.”
The band recently recorded a self-titled five-song EP and will be celebrating the event on Saturday at the Chief Crazy Horse Inn on Commercial Street in Nevada City.
Multi-instrumentalists Sage Arias and Eva Riihiluoma open the show as Halfpence and Haypenny, weaving a web of eclectic instrumentation and bardic style stories of western European tradition.
And Nevada County’s premier rockabilly band, The Chillbillies, will headline the evening. The Chillbillies formed in the mid-’90s joining a wave of rockabilly revival bands such as the Stray Cats, Big Band Voodoo Daddy and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. The Chillbillies feature John Girton on guitar (Dan Hicks, Maria Muldaur), Tom Menig on guitar (Alela Diane, The Deadbeats), Charlie Faber on bass (Lorraine Gervais, The Dogtones) and Ty Smith on drums (Hucklebucks, Bob Mora & the Third Degree Blues Band).
The show starts at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Chief Crazy Horse Saloon & Grill, 230 Commercial St., Nevada City. $10 at the Door — and the first 20 guests get a freebie CD.