Local

July 27, 2012

Local band has military, aerospace roots

by Linda KC Reynolds
Staff Writer

Vagrant X band members Larry Kahl, Jesse Calzada, Tom Miller and Gary Nichols relax from the auto and aerospace industries to perform for private parties and special events. They rehearse twice a week and have dinner with band and family members weekly to maintain their bond and friendship.

More than anything, Vagrant X is about building relationships, exchanging energy and bonding.

“The music is what comes out of the bond and chemistry we have,” said Gary Nichols, lead guitarist, vocals, original member and co-founder of Vagrant X.

When Nichols isn’t working for Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, Calif., as an equipment technician, he’s rehearsing or playing at private parties and special events such as Neil Stock, Bikers Against Child Abuse, Fallen Heroes, etc.

Vagrant X recently played at a 65th birthday party at the VFW Post 9657 in Rosamond, Calif., for Vietnam Marine Veteran Dick Schwartz and Air Force Vietnam Veteran Harley Davidson, who both turned 65 July 10.

“It’s an honor to play for these men who proudly served our country during a very controversial period in our history,” Nichols said. “It is always a great crowd.”

Nichols’ older sister turned him on to Janice Joplin and he was inspired by Jimmy Page and John Fogerty.

At age seven he started playing his dad’s guitar and at 12 he got his own guitar and has been teaching himself ever since.

Tom Miller (front) a Global Hawk Pilot and Larry Kahl a Security Specialist for Boeing rock the house with Vagrant X at the VFW Post 9657 in Rosamond, Calif.

In the late 1990s Nichols was playing at a backyard party when Jesse Calzada heard him.

“It was the first time I heard live music up front and personal,” said Calzada. The music gave him an itch and so years later he scratched it with a set of drums.

Together they started playing and became Vagrant in 2001. In addition to percussions and drums, Calzada also sings, handles the bands graphic design needs and prepares the bands promotional flyers. “We connect with the crowd and feed off of their energy. We are the engine and the fans provide us with fuel,” Calzada said.

The men’s wives are very supportive of the band and they all share dinner once a week to maintain and grow their special bond.

After making several guest appearances with Vagrant, guitarist Larry Kahn joined the band in 2011 and they became Vagrant X.

After listening to Vagrant Kahn, realized that their broad song selection covering more than five decades increased their opportunities to play more venues.

“Performing with Vagrant X provides the opportunity to give back to the community and build relationships; both are important to us. We inspire each other and we are inspired by the people that we meet while performing,” Kahn said.

Vagrant X recently played for the grand opening of the Bravery Brewing Company, a Lancaster, Calif., brewery with the theme of honoring our military veterans.

“Words can’t begin to explain the emotion in the room filled with veterans, family, and friends when Nichols and Vagrant X opened with the Star Spangled Banner,” Kahn said. Kahn is a 27-year security specialist with Boeing and assigned tot Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. “Having a band is about talent, dependability, and chemistry. Vagrant X has it all.”

Newest member Tom Miller quit school at 17 to join the Air Force and enlisted as an aircraft mechanic.

“I messed up, got in some trouble, but pressed on,” said Miller. He studied hard, earned a bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering and was commissioned as an Air Force officer.

After serving 21 years in the Air Force he retired as a major, earned a masters degree in Financial Planning and is now a Global Hawk Pilot contracted to NASA.

“After years of focusing on my ‘left brain’ as a technician, engineer and pilot, I decided I should start exercising my ‘right brain,'” he said.

Marine Vietnam Veteran Dick Schwartz and Air Force Vietnam Veteran, Harley Davidson, both turned 65 July 10 and celebrated their birthdays with friends at the VFW Post 9657 in Rosamond, Calif.

Three years ago he visited a pawn shop in Palmdale and bought a bass guitar and amp. “My friend Jason set me up with some great equipment. I kept practicing and hanging out with the band. These guys are really great teachers. They helped me learn some songs and even called me up on stage to play. I must have done OK, because they asked me to join the band last April.”

“Tom got his masters, joined a rock band, bought a Harley and has never been happier,” said his wife Lorrie who also works at Edwards. “He used to just study and fly airplanes. The band has been very good for him.”

John Guerra is a devoted fan and enjoys dancing.

“These guys are the real thing,” said Guerra. “What you see here is who they are, no matter if it is rehearsing in the living room or playing before hundreds.” After 25 years of marriage Guerra lost his wife to cancer and met the Calzada family while working at AV Chevrolet. “After my wife passed, I was heading down a dark path and these guys pulled me out. I’m a great fan and I’m grateful for their friendship.”

Vagrant X encourages guests to step up to the microphone and join them on stage. “That unexpected element of guest performers is part of what makes Vagrant X special,” Kahn said. Recently Electra Bleu, a singer from the Santa Clarita, Calif., area, stepped up with her rendition of Crimson and Clover. “She rocked it.”

Each member of the Vagrant X band has direct ties to the U.S. armed services.

Miller served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years, and Calzada, Kahn and Nichols all have sons currently serving in the military.

“Vagrant X is an American band and proud of it. You can expect to hear the Star Spangled Banner performed at every Vagrant X performance,” said Nichols. Vagrant X will be playing Sept. 22 at the Rock Inn in Lake Hughes, Calif.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines November 26, 2014

News: When Hagel leaves, new SecDef faces big questions about the military’s futureĀ - President Obama’s new pick to run the Pentagon will face a dizzying set of challenges affecting the Defense Department’s mission, budget and culture. Who will be the next Secretary of Defense?- Following the Nov. 24 surprise announcement from the White House, the...
 
 

News Briefs November 26, 2014

Navy to decommission two more ships in Puget Sound The Navy recently decommissioned the guided missile frigate USS Ingraham at Everett, Wash. It will be towed to Bremerton and scrapped. The Daily Herald reports the Navy also plans to decommission another ship at the Everett homeport and also one stationed in Bremerton. Naval Station Everett...
 
 

NASA airborne campaigns tackle climate questions from Africa to Arctic

NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into how different aspects of the interconnected Earth system influence climate change. NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

16T Pitch Boom reactivated to support wind tunnel tests

Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend The Pitch Boom at the AEDC 16-foot transonic wind tunnel (16T) was recently reactivated. This model support system is used in conjunction with a roll mechanism to provide a combined pitch...
 
 

Northrop Grumman supports U.S. Air Force Minuteman missile test launch

Northrop Grumman recently supported the successful flight testing of the U.S. Air Force’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system. The operational flight test was conducted as part of the Air Force Global Strike Command’s Force Development Evaluation Program. This program demonstrates and supports assessment of the accuracy, availability and reliability of the...
 
 
army-detector

Scientists turn handheld JCAD into a dual-use chemical, explosives detector

Scientists at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., proved it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks by adding the ability to detect explosive materials to the Joint Chemical Age...
 




One Comment


  1. Terri Kahn

    Awesome article Linda! Great band too!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>