Temecula, known for its rolling hills and lush vineyards, is also quickly becoming the town known for fresh, home-grown vocal talent.
Last season on NBC’s The Voice, Temecula high school student, Xenia, rose to the top of the competition with her sweet vocal stylings, capturing the hearts of fans all over the world.
Last Monday night during blind auditions, when Lee Koch (pronounced Cook) took the stage before a large audience and a few well-known celebrity judges, no one had heard of Lee.
That has all changed, with his riveting performance of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Within minutes of his audition, Judge Christina Aguilera quickly slapped her button and spun her chair around, clearly impressed with his voice and harmonica skills.
Throughout the blind auditions, she kept insisting she was being really choosy this season, looking for truly unique vocal talent. She found it in Lee, and proudly added her to her team, which is ready to kick off the Battle Rounds next week in the quest for this season’s winner.
So here we are on a Thursday night, at Ryan Bros Coffee House in Temecula, listening to the now-famous, yet down-to-earth, soulful musical stylings of Mr. Lee Koch.
Surrounded by friends and family -- and new fans like me -- we are mesmerized as he plays some of his original music on guitar and that soulfully smooth harmonica.
He is truly a skilled guitarist and bluesy vocalist, whose style takes you back to the time when soulful, heartfelt lyrics just made you feel good. Some of the little fans dance unashamedly before him, including a little girl dancing with his wife, Nicole, who happened to be celebrating her birthday.
I enjoyed his sweet, bluesy cover of Alicia Keys, “No One”, and was happy to buy his CD, “Same Blood”. You can download his rendition of “Like a Rolling Stone” on iTunes.
Lee is the son of Bob & Debbie Koch, and the second to youngest of 5 siblings. He started playing harmonica at age 14, and as a sophomore at Chaparral HS, he played harmonica in their production of The Who’s “Tommy”.
He started a band his senior year and first sang on his 18th birthday. He later learned to play guitar.
As his band gained momentum doing various gigs, he moved to Ventura, Calif., where he recorded his first CD at a studio that had recorded music greats such as Kenny Loggins.
During the next six years, he traveled and did gigs at bars and little venues, crafting his sound after the likes of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Brenton Wood and Bill Withers. He also loves The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.
When I said I heard a little James Brown, he smiled and said, “I love soul, rhythm and blues.” As Lee continues to pursue his music career, he and his wife, Nicole, are bakers at the in Temecula.
To read a review of the bakery,
His journey to The Voice began when he got an email from the Manager for Dia Frampton, last season’s winner. The manager’s girlfriend had heard him play at a gig, bought his CD and told him he needed to hear this guy named Lee.
“I made it thru the first audition, and just kept going,” Lee said.
When I asked him what we can look forward to this season, Lee replied, “ For the Battle Round, I’m going to be doing something very different from my usual genre. It will be stretching, but I think I put in my own soulfulness.”
We will be watching -- and we wish you all the best, Lee!