DOUBLE DATE NIGHT: Libby Koch & Chuck Hawthorne + Brant Croucher & Lainey Balagia Croucher
Describing Americana singer-songwriter Libby Koch (pronounced like the soft drink) as “country meets soulful,” Free Press Houston perfectly pegs the sound captured on Koch’s new album, Just Move On (June 24, 2016, Berkalin Records). Working in Nashville with Grammy-winning producer Bil VornDick, she draws on legends from Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn to Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, among others, to craft an album of “true cryin’ and leavin’ country songs.” Combining her country soul with a seventh-generation Texas troubadour’s storytelling skill, Koch fills these songs with intimacy and honesty. Like the most timeless country classics, they’re the kind that make you feel good about feelin’ bad. More info at www.libbykoch.com
Austin singer-songwriter Chuck Hawthorne's album Silver Line has garnered critical acclaim in the US and Europe, with the UK's Daily Telegraph naming his debut one of the best country albums of the year. The retired Marine Corps veteran's second career kicked into high gear following a chance meeting with Juno Award winning artist Ray Bonneville, who ultimately produced Chuck's album. "Hawthorne's voice is a hybrid of Eddie Vedder’s and Gordon Lightfoot’s, his instrumentation spare like Townes Van Zandt, and his songs—in particular, "Post 2 Gate" and "Welding Son of a gun"—are deliberate, workaday tales reminiscent of Nebraska-era Springsteen or James McMurtry." (No Depression). More info at www.chuckhawthorne.com
Brant Croucher was born and raised in Houston, schooled in Denton, TX and has since spent time all over the USA, while receiving mail in Dallas, Nashville, Austin, and Wimberley. Appropriately, his songs explore themes of moving around -- and moving on -- while finding a way to make life as an aspirant troubadour work.Such themes aren’t new to the genre, but Croucher approaches them with a genuine, no-frills openness and honesty, delivering each with a strong vocal presence, supported by a guitar or piano.
In the past three years, Croucher has played hundreds of shows all over Texas, the Southeast, and the UK, sharing bills with many notable acts and personal heroes along the way. His music is currently being played on Texas radio, European radio, and Americana radio across the U.S.
In 2012, after graduating law school, Lainey Balagia released her debut album, Neverland. With a title inspired by her favorite book and songs inspired by little boys who won’t grow up, the 10 tracks run the gamut from emotional ballads to high energy country rock. In addition to practicing law and releasing an album, in 2013 Lainey formed a band with singer/songwriters Debbie Forrest Byrd and Libby Koch. Their band, The Grievous Angels, released their debut album in July of 2013 and received awards from the Houston Press and the Academy of Texas Music. A full time attorney and new mom, Lainey can now be heard most frequently performing with her husband, Brant Croucher.