Lee Koch’s interest in music began at the age of 14, when he often took his brother’s harmonica to school and played it behind his teacher’s back. Over the years, he expanded his horizons to singing and songwriting and eventually landed a spot on NBC’s, “The Voice.”
At the Grape Festival, the 27-year-old will showcase his talents when he opens for Jackie Greene, who is the main act.
The Temecula resident first began singing on his 18th birthday. He then formed a band and spent some time playing the local venue circuit. When his plans didn’t progress the way he felt they should, he decided to call it quits. He and his wife, Nicole, took a job at a bakery. That’s when he received an email from someone who had been involved with the first season of “The Voice,” who said he could get Koch a spot high up in the audition line. “The Voice” is a singing competition show that airs on NBC. Koch declined at first but then decided to show up. He was surprised when his rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” earned him a spot on Christina Aguilera’s team. He explains the process as surreal.
“During the last couple seconds when she hit the button, I didn’t get it. It took a second to sink in,” he said. “It was all a blur.”
Koch then made it to the battle round, where he competed against Lindsey Pavao, of Manteca. He was eliminated after the two sang, “Heart Shaped Box,” by Nirvana.
He and Nicole went out on the road while his episodes were airing. That’s when he noticed a change. He found it easier to get venues to perform in after his time on the show.
“It’s so difficult to get your name out there. It lets people know that I exist,” he said.
Koch took up songwriting as an outlet for himself but likes the performance aspect because he desires to share the songs with others. He feels rewarded being able to play for a smaller audience and hear their feedback. If it wasn’t for the listeners, music would be one dimensional, he said.
In October, Koch plans to record his second album, which will be released by the new year. After the arrival of he and Nicole’s baby in February, he hopes the three of them can hit the road again.
“We can raise a little gypsy kid,” he said with a laugh.
Koch compares his musical style to Jackie Greene,who like himself, plays the guitar and harmonica at the same time. His show at the Grape Festival will include some new songs that haven’t been heard yet. More than anything, he wants to show he values performance in a new way after his time on “The Voice.” He wants people to see there is still honesty in music and there is depth to songwriting.
“There is still hope and we can prove that for people who want to hear genuine, honest songs,” he said.