In the behemoth known as The Lone Star State that I lovingly call home, country and americana music is nothing short of a powerhouse. Many country artists and several more who’ve become legends in their own right, Willie Nelson, Kacey Musgraves and even The King himself George Strait, all call Texas their home. Texan country has essentially become it’s own sub genre of country. Even more so, americana, a peculiar yet thoroughly enjoyable blend of country and classic folk, has made an equally as prevalent presence. Many popular americana bands such as Dallas’ own Old 97’s call Texas their home, just as classic country calls Nashville its’ home.

 

About 40 miles north of the metropolitan area of Houston lies Conroe, Texas. A quaint and friendly town with subtle country influences and with a growing population of 82,286, Conroe is the hometown of several retired players of Major League Baseball. Among those notable players are Brian Barkley, the former pitcher for The Boston Red Sox and former pitcher for The Minnesota Twins Kevin Slowey. In this town, a married couple of now 28 years are regular fans for a local band that’s mastering the country/americana blend called Caleb & The Homegrown Tomatoes.

 

Through a silent auction, the local married couple recently purchased a private performance from Caleb & The Homegrown Tomatoes on their anniversary. Not too surprisingly, this happily married is actually my parents and for their 28th anniversary party, they purchased a private show from their favorite local band to play an intimate concert, almost with the sense of home and familiarity out of a SoFar Sounds show.

 

Through a local musician that put bands together, frontman Caleb Hoelscher was fired from another local band and was replaced by Sarah, the woman who would actually go on to become the bassist for The Homegrown Tomatoes.

 

“I stole the band.” Hoelscher joked. All the members, even their harmonica and accordion player Fred, were all in other local bands before leaving for The Homegrown Tomatoes. Almost as if he was giving a history lesson, Fred then told of the history of how the band that would later go on to win Redneck Country Club’s “Redneck Idol” was formed.  

 

Through jam sessions at Corner Pub, which Fred described as “ground zero for all music in Conroe”, they began to play and eventually formed Caleb & The Homegrown Tomatoes.

 

“That’s where it all started.” the bassist Sarah informed.

 

In terms of musical influences, they span across many different genres including artists such as Jason Isbell, The Beatles and even international subgenres such as British rock. While Stephen plays jazz and funk, Fred’s a Pittsburgh native who’s “the blues guy” and even formed The Pittsburgh Blues Society in 1985. Meanwhile, Sarah likes the unique and often classic genre of British rock.

 

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“All the different mixtures of elements in this band make for a really tasty gumbo.” Fred explained followed by a compliment on my mother delicious gumbo prepared that night.

 

Without the band’s knowledge, their manager entered them into the “Redneck Idol” competition at Redneck Country Club in Stafford, Texas and they easily made it past the first round. What started as 72 entries into this competition became 14 entries. All 14 bands played during the same day on two different stages and Caleb and The Homegrown Tomatoes won “Judge’s Choice”. Then, after each playing their own individual show and being judged based on factors such as promotion skills, fan attendance and live performance, they won the honor of “Redneck Idol” at the biggest venue they’ve played to date.

 

Their tour across Texas is self-proclaimed as the “No Bar Too Far” tour and future shows include more shows at Redneck Country Club and local venues in Conroe such as Pacific Yard House.

 

What local bands would you recommend? Tweet me at @CaptainKasoff and check out Caleb & The Homegrown Tomatoes and their EP “The Seed” here: https://www.facebook.com/calebandthehomegrowntomatoes/