Tunes to take the town

Common Grounds has an exciting lineup for April, filled with folk artists, rappers and up-and-coming musicians. Thomas Csorba will be performing on April 1, and Bryce Merrit (pictured) will be performing on April 20. Tickets can be purchased at Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

The five artists set to take the Common Grounds stage in April are a mix of up-and-comers and household names, and tickets are on sale now.

The April lineup will begin on Saturday with Houston sophomore Thomas Csorba. The Folk/Americana artist said he focuses on lyrics when he writes because he believes music should tell a story.

Csorba released a new album Friday titled “From the Foxhole.” Csorba said the album was inspired by some of the challenges he’s faced trying to juggle a music career while being a full-time Baylor student.

”There are times in life when working hard and sticking to something doesn’t seem worth it,” Csorba said, “but there’s brotherhood and camaraderie and a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Csorba released his first EP when he was a junior in high school, but he’s hesitant to call himself talented. He said he believes that hard work and being a “lover of the craft” are more important factors than talent when it comes to pursuing music.

“I’d love for Baylor kids to understand the idea that creating something, creating art, and working at it really hard is something to be passionate about,” Csorba said.

Following Csorba, the Grammy-nominated Christian duo Leeland will perform on April 6. According to the band’s website, “Their lives, ministry, and music are a true extension of their passion to simply worship God.”

Another recognizable duo, Penny and Sparrow, will perform the day after Leeland on April 7. Penny and Sparrow, otherwise known as Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke, have played at Common Grounds several times before.

“I love Waco a ton,” Baxter said. “There’s just an energy of youth, an energy of openness. There’s an energy that makes me look forward to playing at Common Grounds every time.”

On previous tours, Penny and Sparrow have shared the stage with a full band, a string trio and a jazz ensemble. On this tour, however, Baxter said the two will be playing on their own, “Simon and Garfunkel style.”

“It’s our desire to be a chameleon that sense,” Baxter said. “If the song’s good enough, you can dress it up in any number of clothes, and it still stands on its own.”

Before they were Penny and Sparrow, Baxter and Jahnke were college roommates. According to Baxter, the two also got engaged to their wives around the same time, and the two couples later lived together in a communal house.

“We have simply lived and seen together so many different phases of life that most people only experience independently,” Baxter said. “I love him to death; he’s my best friend.”

Baxter said those attending their Common Grounds concert can expect emotion and honesty, as well as new music from an album the duo is currently finishing.

As a change of pace after a series of folk artists, rapper NF will perform April 19 as part of his Therapy Session tour. His most recent album by the same name reached number one on iTunes’ Hip-Hop charts after its debut.

According to a recent interview, NF, or Nathan Feuerstein, said he incorporates Christian themes into his music but writes music that appeals to a secular crowd as well.

“I don’t know what a Christian rapper is,” Feuerstein said. “I’m just an artist who makes music for everybody.”

One of the final artists to appear in April is Bryce Merritt, performing April 20. Merrit has performed at the venue multiple times as an opening act for artists like the Blue Water Highway Band, but this will be his first time as a headliner at Common Grounds.

Merrit described his musical style as “a combo of Stevie Wonder and Justin Timberlake.” He said he closes every show with a song called “Spread the Happiness” and hopes the audience will take that message to heart.

“I like to close with that one because it’s the theme that I like to have threaded throughout my shows,” Merritt said. “My music is pretty upbeat. It’s mostly happy and fun, and I really just want people to have a good time.”

As of Monday night, tickets are still available online for every Common Grounds concert in Waco. Leeland, Penny and Sparrow and NF are also offering VIP tickets, which include a meet and greet session with the artist before the show begins.