When they formed their duo in January 2017, singer-songwriters Kristin Courville and Eric DiSanto naturally billed themselves as Kristin and Eric. But now, in a bid to reach Americana music fans, they have a new name.
Welcome to Cumberland County.
The influences Courville and DiSanto have — blues, country, ‘80s hard rock, Cajun and zydeco music and funk and rhythm-and-blues from New Orleans — align with the Americana genre, DiSanto said.
“We absorbed everything,” he said. “We’re putting all of that into our songwriting.”
Courville and DiSanto had another reason to call themselves Cumberland County, as that’s a real county in their native Pennsylvania. The two performers never knew each other in their home state, but met after their respective moves to Louisiana.
DiSanto relocated to Baton Rouge in 2000. Courville moved to New Orleans, her father’s hometown, in 2002. In addition to Louisiana’s warmth, they loved the state’s rainbow of music.
DiSanto is a veteran singer-songwriter, slide guitarist and audio engineer. He released his solo album debut, “I’ll Sail My Ship from Here,” in 2007. Courville is a comparative newcomer to the local singer-songwriter scene. Despite being a lifelong music lover from a musical family, she didn’t write songs and perform until 2014.
Cumberland County is on track to play more than twice the number of shows the duo played last year. And the pair are super excited about their Friday debut at the Manship Theatre. They’re opening for Texas singer-songwriter James McMurtry at a Red Dragon Songwriters Series concert. On the Monday after that show, Courville and DiSanto will release “Flying in the Jet Stream,” their debut single as Cumberland County.
The new single follows the duo’s first full-length album, “Forty-Two Miles.” That album’s title is another reference to Pennsylvania, where they lived in cities 42 miles apart.
The two met in Baton Rouge at a local songwriters’ event. Impressed by his songs and performance, Courville invited DiSanto to join her for a show at Poets in Lafayette.
“Our voices blend really well together,” DiSanto said. “And our styles of music mesh.”
They performed together again at the Red Dragon Listening Room in Baton Rouge.
“Right after that,” DiSanto said, “we wanted to take this seriously. We started writing more songs together. We came up with a game plan for what we wanted to accomplish.”
“Eric asked me if I wanted to record an album,” Courville said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know! I’ve never done that. Let’s talk about it.’ ”
“She works very hard,” DiSanto said of his duo partner’s swift musical progress. In the short time they’ve been working together, their songwriting collaborations have improved enormously, he added.
“Because we’ve done so much of it,” he explained. “I find writing songs with Kristin challenging and fun because everything I’d done before had been from a male point of view.”
Their songwriting partnership is yielding material that either she or DiSanto can sing, Courville said. “Our songs are pretty gender neutral.”
A follow-up album to “Forty-Two Miles” is in the works. They’ll record it at their own Toes in the Sand Studio. Performing nearly every weekend, Courville and DiSanto have also found that their songs travel well. The duo plays many out-of-state gigs.
“A lot of musicians at our level in Baton Rouge and New Orleans are finding success beyond Louisiana,” Courville said.
JAMES MCMURTRY/CUMBERLAND COUNTY
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St., Baton Rouge