When catching a live performance by Brad Jenschke and Neon Ranch, you can expect to hear lots of country classics mixed in with new tunes, original songs and maybe some good ol’ rock and roll.
The son of Suzanne and Marty Jenschke, Brad began playing the guitar at 16. He has always loved country music, but as he grew older he was also drawn to rock music. He learned how to play guitar with the help of a guitar book. An uncle advised him to learn chords and bought him a chord book.
At 18, he and some fellow members of the Poteet FFA went to state for a talent show, performing for the entire FFA State Convention in Ft. Worth. It was 2004 and marked his first taste of being in a band.
After graduating from Tarleton State University, he taught for a few years. When he was 25, he started a band called The Broken String Road, in which his friend and fellow Poteet High School graduate Russell Eichman was the lead singer.
Following Eichman’s departure when he got married, Brad started Brad Jenschke and Neon Ranch. Current band members are: Brad Jenschke- vocals and guitar, Cheyenne Zigmond- guitar, Benny Pelphrey- bass, Travis St. Peter- fiddle and guitar, Jim Bartelt- drums and Rachel Chaney- vocals.
Band member Cheyenne is also Brad’s girlfriend. Along with this parents, the Jenschke family includes: sister and brother- in-law Kristan Dugi and Jonathan Dugi and niece Alexis Dugi; sister and brother-in-law Jessica Rakowitz and JT Rakowitz and nephew Parker.
In 2017, Brad released “Where Strawberries Grow” about his hometown of Poteet.
“For being a homemade recording, it did wonderful and was received very well,” said Jenschke.
That year, he was asked to perform at several events leading up to the Poteet Strawberry Festival.
In the last five years, the band has played at many venues including 11th Street Cowboy Bar in Bandera and Tejas Rodeo in Bulverde, which is his favorite venue to play.
He recently played the Veterans Day Fundraiser to benefit the American Legion in Jourdanton. His upcoming schedule includes hosting the Merry on Main’s Got Talent Show on Dec. 4 in Pleasanton, performing at the Merrier on Main Dance from 9 p.m.-midnight on Dec. 5 at the Pleasanton River Park, as well as a New Year’s Eve dance at the American Legion Hall in Jourdanton.
Jenschke is known for his John Deere green colored guitar, which he built himself and painted, known as the Teletractor. His “Rockstar Rancher” label ties in to his early days in the business. He was working with his dad, working cattle and bailing hay. An hour before his first gig with Neon Ranch, he delivered a baby calf.
“So rancher by day, rockstar by night. I’d be out there cutting hay or bailing or working cattle and later that night I’d have to go to a gig.”
He often performs classic songs by Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and George Strait, to name a few. He also mixes in some new tunes by Kevin Fowler, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Midland and more.
“Our fiddle player rocks out on ‘Wagon Wheel’ really well. He’s a fantastic fiddle player. He sometimes steals the show when we go places. He has a wireless set-up and he’ll go out into the crowd and play for people while we’re up on stage playing.”
Four to five songs at his shows will be Jenscke’s own songs, which are also songs he wrote and composed music to.
When it comes to writing songs, it all begins with words Brad gets in his head. After a few days, he will sit down and right out what he has been thinking.
“It may be a chorus. For instance the song ‘West Texas Girl’ started out, ‘She was a West Texas girl with a bottle of wine. Made me forget the tequila and lime.’ From there I sat down and wrote words to it.”
In December of 2019, Jenschke released his biggest hit, “An Angel in a Cowboy Hat.” Many say it is Jenschke’s best work, which he is proud of.
He wrote the song for his father, who has been a hard-working farmer and rancher his entire life and is also Brad’s inspiration. The song takes the point of view of how Brad envisions the way his 4-year-old nephew Parker will see his grandfather, (Brad’s father Marty) in years to come.
His music video for the song features Brad visiting the grave of his dad’s friend, Tommy Simmons, known as “Buzzard” and prominent in the Poteet Strawberry Festival world.
“It’s one I’ll definitely be playing for years and years to come.”
The video also stars Poteet strawberry grower and windmill collector Jim Collums. Some filming was done at Collums’ business, Poteet Country Winery.
“I really appreciate him having us out there. He’s done work for us for years. He pulls our water wells.”
He reflected on his first concert, Brooks and Dunn at the San Antonio Rodeo, back when it was still at the Freeman Coliseum. One concert that left a big impression on Brad was this past year when he had floor seats to see Sammy Hagar, also at the San Antonio Rodeo.
Jenschke loves performing for the rush that it brings him, similar to when he played football in high school.
“Playing in a band replaced that feeling. It was that rush, that feeling of being in front of people and playing and doing the songs I love and having people out there dancing and enjoying it,” said Jenschke.
At one point, there were 12 Texas radio stations playing Jenschke’s songs.
“We were doing really good with that and then COVID hit. A lot of venues that I was playing at closed their doors, not necessarily for good, but when they say to close all the bars down, that is where all the musicians’ work goes.”
Fortunately, Tejas Rodeo was one of the venues that stayed open, so Jenschke kept playing about once a month. He also played another venue in Spring Branch, giving him about two shows a month during the height of the pandemic. During this time, he played with musicians from another band, as some of his band members are older and he did not want to put them at risk of getting COVID.
“In a way, it was nice to take off some time from it because at one point I was doing three to four shows a week,” said Jenschke. “Working a full-time job on top of that gets to be hard.”
When establishments opened up, the band was rolling again. He is looking forward to a new recording in the future.
Music by Brad Jenschke and Neon Ranch is available on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play and Amazon. You can also find it on his website: www.bradjenschke.com.