It’s happened repeatedly throughout history. Throw together a bunch of boys, some instruments and a little bit of raw talent and what happens? They form a band, of course.
Such is the case for what is fast becoming the local teen sensation known as Traffic Jam. Seen most recently opening for the Whiskey Thieves during last Saturday’s Gran Fondo bike event on the Plaza, the band is rapidly gaining recognition and notoriety.
According to Codi Binkley, vocalist for the Whiskey Thieves, Traffic Jam is “a perfect blend of what this town is all about. Sonoma is well known for its punk rock. And we started the blues scene here. Traffic Jam fits right in. I can’t wait to see what happens with them in a few years.”
The band consists of Aaron Marcus-Willers (13) and Tyler Meloan (13), both seventh graders at Sonoma Charter School; Ryan Abshear (14), an eighth-grader at St. Francis; and Ben Koler (16) a sophomore at Santa Rosa’s ArtQuest.
Marcus-Willers and Meloan formed the band three years ago at the tender age of 10. Having grown up together, they were both into music and began jamming when they discovered their shared interest. They added Abshear then Koler, named the band and began looking for gigs around town.
Interest has been keen and so far they’ve played last year’s Full Moon Barn Dance as well as the Tuesday Night Farmers Market a number of times, even headlining under the palm tree in recent weeks. The Charter School has invited them to play on campus and at their recently held flea market at Sonoma Valley High School. They are also regulars at the school’s annual talent show.
The gigs, and the groupies, keep coming. Band manager and father to Tyler Meloan, Steve Meloan says that it’s fun to watch the group build a fan base. “It’s especially amusing when I get to say that I’m ‘with the band.’”
The boys play mostly covers but have some original music on which they are working but stated that with school, band practice and gigs, there is little time leftover for music composition. They’re hoping to change that this summer with some recording
sessions courtesy of Charter School teacher and Joy Ride band member, Bob Edmondson who has a home recording studio.
So far, the money they’ve earned for playing gigs has been invested back into the band. For instance, they recently purchased a custom drum head designed by band member Marcus-Willers.
And while it’s still early to predict, the boys seem to find enough interest in music to be thinking that it might factor into their college plans. But for now, they’re content to practice, play and have some fun along the way.