Bowersox, DeWyze lead Idols into Huntington CenterWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Vicki L. Kroll
Crystal Bowersox celebrated her 25th birthday earlier this month in Tampa, Fla., another stop on the American Idols Live! Tour. There was just one gift she wanted: A visit from her 18-month-old son, Tony.
“I had my son flown to Florida so he was there with me on my birthday, and it was his first time seeing me on the big stage,” she said. “When the television show was on, he was always back in the VIP room; he never saw me perform. So it was really, really cool — had the little ear protectors on him.
“He enjoyed the whole thing, looked at the Jumbotron, looked at mommy on stage. He couldn’t quite figure it out, but he clapped for me.”
Toledo — and Tony — will get another visit with Bowersox when the Idols Tour stops at the Huntington Center on Aug. 29.
This time when her legions of fans gather at the arena, there’ll be clapping. In May, a stunned packed house watched the “American Idol” finale and saw Lee DeWyze named the winner.
“It’s going to be really cool when we get to Toledo and see familiar faces,” Bowersox said during a call before a show in San Diego. “I think [the concert is] a good thing for the whole family. There’s such a variety of music from each of the different contestants.”
Set to take the stage with Bowersox and DeWyze are the rest of the top 10 performers from season nine: Didi Benami, Andrew Garcia, Casey James, Aaron Kelly, Michael Lynche, Siobhan Magnus, Katie Stevens and Tim Urban. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show range from $38.50 to $68.50.
“No guarantees, but something might happen there; I might do something different for the hometown,” Bowersox teased.
Don’t expect to see her signature microphone stand.
“My mic stand is currently retired for now, for the summer. I traded it in for a headset so I could walk around the stage and get as close to the audience as I possibly can,” the Elliston native said.
“It’s really great to get to meet the fans and come to them,” she said. “We’re learning a lot [on the tour], but we’re having fun.”
Trying to learn about the star’s debut disc was tough. Bowersox said she didn’t want to give too much away.
“It will definitely be all-original, if not original, it’ll be co-written. I want to take part in every aspect of the album. I want to co-produce,” she said. “It’s my baby, it’s my art, so I want to be involved. It’s supposed to represent me, so I’m going to try to do that the best I can.”
Bowersox confirmed that local bassist Frankie May will record with her.
When asked if “Holy Toledo” will be on the disc, she replied, “We haven’t decided on songs yet, but songs that are most important to me will be on the album.”
The singer-songwriter then shared the story behind that track: “I was 17 sitting on a friend’s front porch, thinking about moving and wondering what else is out there. I was at a turning point in my life; I was going from, you know, teenager to a woman, and that’s when I moved to Chicago and just kind of started fulfilling my dreams and not really letting anything get in the way. I think it’s a song of hope for something better.”
And yes, she knows how to drive a stick. “When I wrote that song, I actually had a 1972 Volkswagen bus,” she said.
After the tour wraps up Aug. 31, MamaSox will return to Northwest Ohio for a few days and her favorite gig — singing to her son.
“I sing to him whenever I can,” Bowersox said. “He sings, too. He’s picking up on ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,’ and he understands the difference between a low note and a higher note. He’s into it; he’s been around music since he was in the womb.”
She added, “He’s a very, very Zen baby; he’s calm, cool and collected.”
Must get that from his mom, who seems so down-to-earth.
“I grew up lower income, middle class, you know. I’ve lived a long time without much, and I realize that’s not the important stuff in life anyway, really; it’s health and happiness, and I’ve got that so I’m alright.”
How long has your hair been in dreadlocks?
Who is your favorite Beatle?
“That’s impossible; I love them all.”
Guilty pleasure song on your iPod?
“I don’t have an iPod [laughs].”
Guilty pleasure song you like?
“‘Kiss’ by Prince — I love that song.”
Do you have a pet?
“I have four cats, Oliver, Murray, Kate and Dopey, but I haven’t seen them in a long time.”
Favorite cartoon character?
“Right now it’s SpongeBob; my son’s into SpongeBob.”
Have you ever thought of rewriting and recording Glenn Campbell’s “Galveston” as a tribute to Elliston?
“I had not thought of that [laughs].”
Place you want to visit:
“I want to go to India; I think that would be cool.”
Best bowling score?
“I haven’t been bowling for years. I don’t remember any, but I used to go as a kid with my dad.”
What do you like to cook or bake?
“I like to make cookies at Christmastime.”
Favorite holiday TV special?
“I’d have to say the Grinch.”
Someone you’d like to collaborate with someday:
“I’ve been pushing for Willie Nelson; let’s see if we can get him to read this.”
DeWyze pleased with post-’Idol’ recording plans
By Alan Sculley
Lee DeWyze seems to be the kind of artist and musician who isn’t afraid to set lofty goals.
“In my mind you only live once, and if you’re not going to do it big, then don’t do it at all,” he remarked during a recent phone interview.
DeWyze has certainly followed that line of thinking during the past year or so, taking one of the quickest paths any musician can follow to make a big splash on the national music scene.
He auditioned for “American Idol,” and was crowned the champion this past season. Now he’s about to record an album on major label RCA/19 Records, and if all goes according to plan, it will be released during the high-profile Christmas shopping season.
And with the built-in fan base that comes with having your performances seen on “American Idol” by millions of viewers week in, week out, there’s little doubt that DeWyze will have a good chance to make a big first impression with his RCA/19 debut album and have the kind of immediate success that many past “Idol” winners have enjoyed with their first post-“Idol” CDs.
This is exactly the platform DeWyze wanted to reach in his music career. In interviews as the “American Idol” season was unfolding, he made no secret that he wanted to record for a major record label — not an independent.
“No one’s got the outreach like a major label does,” DeWyze said, explaining that preference. “I don’t care what anyone says. You can’t get the exposure that a major label can offer [on an independent record label].”
“For me, I want to get my CDs everywhere. I want it out all over the place. I want everyone to listen to my music. That’s just how I am. If I’m doing something and I’m proud of it, I want everyone to hear it.”
DeWyze, 24, knows what it’s like to be trying to build a career from a much more modest starting point. Prior to auditioning for “American Idol,” he had tried to build his career the way so many artists do, by playing countless gigs around his home base.
Starting out at age 17, he had spent six years playing shows in his hometown Chicago area.
“We played everything from your dive bar to the House of Blues … just a lot of different places, everything you could think of,” DeWyze said.
Along the way, DeWyze released two CDs on the Chicago-based independent label, WuLi Records: 2007’s “So I’m Told” and 2009’s “Slumberland.” Both albums found DeWyze working in primarily an acoustic folk-rock vein (with bass and drums often added to his guitar parts and vocals). It’s a sound that isn’t far afield from that of artists like Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson.
The fact that DeWyze had this experience in music wasn’t played up on “American Idol,” which instead focused on the fact that he had worked in a paint store before making it as an “Idol” finalist.
DeWyze said he wasn’t that bothered by how he was portrayed, although he admitted the “paint store guy” angle was a bit odd.
“I think their whole thing was he’s the paint store guy, the working class man,” he said. “And it was cool. I worked at a paint store. Everyone’s got jobs. Everyone’s got to pay the bills. So for me it was kind of just weird that was the main focus.
“I’m glad it wasn’t some kind of sob story,” he said. “I understand that people have things that go on in their lives, but for me, I didn’t want it to be about any of that stuff.”
Even for a musician with performing experience, getting onto “American Idol” can seem like a pipe dream. First, one has to audition against thousands of other hopefuls. And that’s just to get to the next round to try to become one of the 24 semi-finalists that will actually get the chance to compete on the show. To DeWyze, who sounds like he doesn’t lack for confidence, auditioning for “American Idol” was something he decided he just had to do.
“I just didn’t want five years to go by and be like, ‘what if I had done this? What would have happened’?” he said. “Now I can’t say that to myself. I know exactly what would have happened.”
What happened, of course, is that DeWyze kept doing well week after week on “American Idol.” On the way to claiming the title of this season’s champion, he never landed in the bottom three — something that no previous male finalist had ever achieved.
He admitted, though, that doing the “American Idol” show was different than what he had expected.
“I thought it would be a lot more relaxed than it was,” DeWyze said. “At times, it became very high tension, like it was very tense, the whole situation. And it was just very sometimes unnerving and just a little bit more than you would think.”
Now, DeWyze is getting to showcase his talents away from the set of the show on the “American Idols Live!” tour. He’ll do a set of five songs or so to close the shows, which also feature performances from the other nine finalists from this season. DeWyze said he’s ready for the tour, even though he’s accustomed to clubs and not arena stages.
“I’m used to playing in front of people, but nothing on this scale,” he said. “I’m definitely not worried about the performances. I’m more looking forward to them than anything. I’m not nervous about it or anything. It’s different than ‘Idol.’ It’s not like you’re being judged or you have a minute and a half to play a song. You get to play full songs in front of crowds. It’s going to be great.”
He’ll also get started recording his first album for RCA/19. DeWyze though, didn’t offer many details about the kind of sound he’ll pursue on the CD, or if it will be different from the acoustic-oriented sound of his two independent CDs or what producers or co-writers will be involved.
“I have a lot of new ideas and things I want to get down, different sounds and things,” DeWyze said. “Being in the studio and being able to do that is going to be awesome for me, because that’s exactly what I need right now.”