Crystal Bowersox makes triumphant returnWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As the Season Nine top 10 “American Idol” contestants took the stage at Huntington Center on Aug. 29, there was no question who Toledo’s Idol is — Crystal Bowersox.
The Elliston native came on stage wearing a huge smile, a T-shirt that read “Peace” and a sunflower patch pinned to her guitar strap. Bowersox was greeted by a crowd of more than 7,000 fans that gave its first and only standing ovation of the evening during her four-song performance.
Bowersox started her set with “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes and played along with the crowd as an oversized beach ball bounced onto stage.
Interacting with the audience, Bowersox took a panoramic picture of the arena before playing “Come to my Window,” a song by her “good friend” Melissa Etheridge.
Bowersox dedicated “Holy Toledo” to a friend, Mark Brink, who died earlier in the week. Bowersox got into the song and by its end was holding back tears. For her last song, Bowersox picked up the pace and played Janis Joplin’s “Piece of my Heart.”
Throughout the evening, Bowersox gave shout-outs to area venues The Village Idiot and Papa’s Tavern and told her bass guitarist Frankie May “I love you.”
During a press conference earlier in the day, Bowersox shared her feelings about the tour coming to an end.
“It is bittersweet,” she said. “The whole week has been rough. We have seven shows in a row … it’s been physically grueling and emotionally grueling. We’ve been together since January. It’s so crazy it’s all a blur. It went by so fast, and here it is wrapping up.”
Although she’ll be busy with recording, the single mother said she is looking forward to more time with her son, Tony.
“I’m still going to be very busy, but it’ll be mommy wakes up, goes to work and I get to come home to him,” she said. “He hasn’t been on tour … I went a whole month without him and it killed me.”
Bowersox will perform at the 12th annual Power to the Peaceful Festival in San Francisco, in September before heading to the studio to record, she said. Following that performance, she will spend most of the fall on the East Coast recording.
Bowersox plans to have her bassist, May, perform with her at everything.
“Hopefully every gig from here on out, Frankie will be with me,” she said. “I love Frankie. There’s no one else like him. He’s like ‘Are you sure? Sure you want me to play?’ He’s always waiting for something to fall through. ‘I can’t even believe you think I’m good enough.’ I keep telling him he’s crazy and there’s no one else I’d rather play with.”
The biggest “American Idol” surprise for Bowersox has been the fans.
“The amount of support and love coming from fans, the level of devotion … I don’t even like myself that much,” Bowersox said laughing. “There’s somebody else that likes me that much, is just incredible. It’s a lot of love.”
Two groups of Bowersox’s fans, MamaSox Nation and MamaSox Village Idiots, hosted a pre-show party Aug. 28, the night before the concert. The gathering, sponsored by Toledo Free Press, served as the final night of the Sunflower Project, an online fundraiser to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) in Bowersox’s name. More than $1,700 was raised for JDRF, with more than $500 raised during the pre-show event.
“It could not have gone any better. If I had to say just one word it would be ‘epic,’” said Michelle Reed, one individual in charge of the project.
Many members of the Village Idiots traveled from across the country, including Arizona, Florida and North Carolina to attend the concert and help with the event.
“I had made a joke, they asked if they could use that name for their fan club and I said only if you make a pilgrimage to the actual Village Idiot where I played every Monday night in Maumee, Ohio, and they took it to heart,” Bowersox said. “They showed up and were doing it for a good cause.”