Ramblin' Rhodes: Homegrown is growing an audience

Homegrown members are Nick Ivey (from left), Craig Brannon, Mandy Musick, Jason Cole and Kevin Brannon. The name comes from the time a preacher commented after a church performance that "These boys are as good as homegrown tomatoes."

There is a great country band in Carrollton, Ga., that has every right to brag of being the “hottest band” to perform at Atlanta’s Turner Field baseball stadium.


That’s because the band, called Homegrown, had its first performance at Turner Field on Saturday, June 30, which officially became the hottest day recorded in Atlanta’s history at 106 degrees. According to the Atlanta Braves’ announcer, it was 120 degrees in the players’ dugout.

“We like to joke that we have been the hottest band to play at Turner Field,” said band co-founder Kevin Brannon. “It still was an awesome experience, and we got to meet a lot of nice people.”

Two of the people impressed with their playing that day were Sherry Fulmer, the executive director of the Augusta-based National Barrel Horse Association, and her husband, Danny.

As a result of that encounter, Fulmer invited Homegrown to perform at the NBHA’s Youth World Championships held in July at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry for barrel racers from across the nation and overseas.

And, because they were such a hit at that show, the band will be returning to Perry on Halloween night to perform for the NBHA’s Open-Senior World Championships before both adult and youth barrel racers from all over.

Self-taught musicians Kevin Brannon, 25, and his brother, Craig, 23, started out as a duet mainly singing gospel and old-style country songs around their hometown area in northwest Georgia.

“We sang in area churches and kept growing from there,” Brannon said. “We were performing back in our home church one time when the preacher said, ‘These boys are as good as homegrown tomatoes.’ And that’s how we came to call our band Homegrown.”

Over the ensuing years, the duo began adding new songs and new members with the band now consisting of the two brothers, drummer Jason Cole, vocalist Mandy Musick and guitarist Nick Ivey.

Brannon said it was the addition of Musick and Ivey that led the band to transition from being country gospel to more straight country, working in songs like The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Fishing in the Dark, Diamond Rio’s Meet Me in the Middle and David Lee Murphy’s Dust On the Bottle.

“We did four gospel albums with some original songs on them, and last March we came out with our first all-country album with all six songs being originals,” Brannon said.

“We are working toward our next album now,” he added. “We take writing very seriously and get together a couple times a month just to write.”

When not performing music, Kevin Brannon can be found testing electronic software for a local medical company; Craig Brannon works in residential construction; Musick works with youth projects at Bethany Christian Church in Carrollton; Cole is a full-time student at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton; and Ivey works with environmental lab testing and as the worship leader at Villa Rica (Ga.) Christian Church.

On their Web site homegrownband.com, Kevin Brannon and Cole both list the Bible as their favorite book.

“We’re a little different from most country bands,” Brannon said. “We try and stay out of the bar scene, and we try to make sure our songs have positive messages.”