Up and Coming: 5 Houston-Area Musical Artists You Should Know About

The locals who have captured our ears, from rock to rap to synth-pop.

"So he went back and, you know, talked to her again about maybe coming out, marrying him and all that stuff," relays Koch. "She was like, 'All right. What the hell?'"

As any good songwriter would, Koch admits she added a little artistic license to Tennessee Colony. "Wagon Train" refers to Lafayette, when her ancestors' fateful meeting happened closer to Longview. But, she notes, "Lafayette is more lyrical."

"I think that's the tradition of story­telling, right?" she says. "Like, I'm sure the way the grandfather told it to me isn't exactly the way it happened. My dad calls it 'embellishing the truth.'"

Rapper Real Flow's clothing line is available at a handful of shops around Southeast Houston.
Marco Torres
Rapper Real Flow's clothing line is available at a handful of shops around Southeast Houston.
Death-metallers War Master arose partially due to the members' interest in the hack-and-slash aesthetic of popular tabletop role-playing game Warhammer.
Daniel Kramer
Death-metallers War Master arose partially due to the members' interest in the hack-and-slash aesthetic of popular tabletop role-playing game Warhammer.

Musically inclined since childhood, Koch attended Texas A&M and graduated from Vanderbilt University law school. In Nashville she started playing out some "and discovered I could hang." She also discovered the music of artists like Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle and ­Lucinda Williams.

"[That was] all the music that I knew I always liked but I guess I never really found," Koch explains. "Then I just grew more confident in my playing and writing."

Some days songwriting comes easier than others, she admits, but she tries to remember some advice she picked up at a recent Folk Alliance conference from one of Nashville's most respected songwriters, Jim Lauderdale.

"He said, 'Everybody's got their own process,' and for a long time I just tortured myself about other people's process not being like my process, and just learn to let it go," Koch reflects. "I was like, 'That was right on, and if Jim Lauderdale's saying that, I'll try that, too.'"

After she moved back to Houston in 2005, one night in 2008 Koch and some friends were at Washington Avenue wine bar The Corkscrew. She asked how she could get a gig and was met with the reply, "Do you want to come up and play a song right now?" Though she sometimes supplements her income from music with freelance legal work, Koch quit practicing law full-time four years ago and since then has watched her calendar grow from a handful of shows to more than 100 last year.

She has already done more than 40 in 2014, and won Best Songwriter at the 2013 Houston Press Music Awards. Citing the scene centered around McGonigel's Mucky Duck and Tennessee Colony producer Jack Saunders, Koch says more travel is in her future — including possible extended stays in both Nashville and Austin — but Houston has too much in its favor for her to consider relocating.

"Houston's my home," Koch says. "My family's here, and I think that there's a real songwriter-focused Americana scene that is getting stronger here in Houston that will only get stronger if we stay. And that's something that I want to be a part of."

Southeast-side rapper Real Flow is hell-bent on being heard.

By Angelica Leicht

Real Flow has a problem, but not the typical rap beef with a competing artist or label that one might expect. Rather, the southeast-side rapper's issue is with Houston's radio stations.

"Radio stations don't give local artists enough room to grow," he says. "They should spend some time focusing on the listeners and the community that supports them. We support them...shouldn't they support us?"

And perhaps he's right. Spend some time observing Houston's steadfast rap scene, and it's fairly obvious that there's a market for underground rap on the radio. Legendary artists like UGK and Fat Pat put Houston rap on the map for the nation, and the late DJ Screw solidified the chopped-and-screwed sound now known worldwide. A bit of radio support for up-and-coming acts would be nice, even if it's just a pipe dream.

But radio support or not, there's always room for one more local great, and Real Flow is dead set on being the next one in line. He's on the right track to do just that, working his way from spittin' in the street in high school to being a full-time rapper with his own label.

Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Z-Ro and Lil Keke have all welcomed Real Flow to the stage, some of them more than once. He's opened up for national artists — 2 Chainz at Warehouse Live last year being the biggest — and will do so again for Slim Thug later this month.

But even in a city full of Southern rappers, Flow is one of a kind, even if he rocks a country twang reminiscent of Paul Wall. His unique sound has enough Southern elements to identify his Houston roots, but plenty that set it apart from his peers'. Flow's hardcore, honest flow is layered on top of blues-inflected, jazzy beats.

"I worked my way up from the bottom," he says. " I always wanted to rap, so I spent my years in high school releasing mixtapes, always ­trying to perfect my sound."

It seems all that effort has paid off. With a touch of classic hip-hop helping to cushion the aggressiveness, Flow's work feels more accessible than much of the genre, local or otherwise. His music is at times energetic, and soothing at ­others. It never strays from delivering Flow's message, though.

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Dennis D Shamblin
Dennis D Shamblin

Surviving Bigfoot and the Dixie Mafia is a terrific book, which you can read free online. True book soon to become a motion picture.


How do you not have Nick Greer & the G's on this list? LAME!


This list seems a little...light.

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