This spring, Waco singer-songwriter Thomas Csorba will trade the coffeehouse that has acted as a sort of home base over the last few months, Pinewood Roasters, for other coffeehouses and clubs across the state.
The former Pinewood barista isn’t being disloyal, but simply doing the work needed for his deeper loves: music and songwriting. Csorba, who will perform Friday night at Balcones Distillery, will take his time away from barista-ing and outside of classes at Baylor University to do some shows across the state.
Though only 20 years old, Csorba already has a following in town, one that started when the Houston native started to book shows as a 16-year-old at Common Grounds. He was still a Memorial High School student when he released his first EP, “Kentucky,” and a Baylor freshman when EP No. 2, “Hard Truths and Noble Lies,” came out.
He’s matter-of-fact about it all, attributing his love of music to his upbringing. “I was raised on lots of Outlaw Country. My mom sang Willie Nelson songs and my dad, who’s from California, listened to the Eagles and Buddy Holly,” Csorba explained.
The common thread to those wasn’t attitude as much as solid songwriting, songs that drew an emotional response or created a mental picture that lingered. “I liked Willie Nelson and (Texas singer-songwriter) Townes Van Zandt. I very quickly fell in love with songwriting.”
As his early entry into performing and recording suggests, Csorba has had a clear eye about the business end of things and, in fact, began college studies as a business major. He’s working toward an English degree now, but aware of what it takes to succeed at what he does. Songwriting, for instance. Csorba doesn’t wait for the muse, but sets a time and place to write. “I treat it like a class period. I’m at home at my desk,” he said.
With writing the best teacher of writing, the Baylor junior also sets goals to achieve that. Last year, he aimed at writing 100 songs and also released his third EP, “From The Foxhole.”
Csorba got involved with Pinewood Roasters co-owners Dylan Washington and J.D. Beard this summer as they planned and built their Waco coffeehouse. Seeing a business built from the ground up was an eye-opener for someone interested in the nuts and bolts of commercial success. “That was an entrepreneurial boot camp,” he said.
He hopes to share the favor, setting up a regular songwriters’ night at the Waco coffeehouse to encourage others and build an audience.
Csorba also is working on establishing himself in songwriting and Americana circles in Texas and the southeast, developing largely college-friendly venues in Houston, Austin, Dallas, Waco and College Station plus Birmingham and Auburn, Alabama; Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee.
Performing with him in his guitar-driven acoustic rock ’n’ roll at at many of those shows is Austin keyboardist Kevin Johnson, who also writes songs.
Though graduation from Baylor is only a few years away, Csorba wants to make Waco his base for the time being, where he’s found a community of like-minded, encouraging souls. “After Baylor, I’m hopefully touring a lot, but planning on staying in Waco,” he said. “I want to continually surround myself with these people.”