Crystal Bowersox has spent most of her summer in tour buses and hotels as part of the American Idol Live! tour and its coast-to-coast sprint of approximately 40 cities in two months.
But there's always been one concert date that's mattered most to the 25-year-old singer from Elliston, Ohio.
The American Idol Live! tour stops in Toledo for a 7:30 p.m. show at the Huntington Center before it wraps up two days later in Indianapolis. The two-hour concert features the top 10 finalists from season nine's "American Idol." Tickets — $40.50, $50.50, and $70.50 — were still available at press time.
Bowersox said she expects her homecoming to be emotional as she steps onstage in front of family, friends, and fans and caps a rapid Cinderella-like transformation from barroom singer to big-stage entertainer after her runner-up finish to Lee DeWyze on American Idol.
In addition to performing her standard set of four cover songs, expect Bowersox to sing one of her originals, such as "Holy Toledo," which was featured in video footage of her homecoming and parade during the American Idol season, or possibly "Grey-Haired Rockstars," a song dedicated to three local musicians she credits for helping her develop as a singer-songwriter.
With the tour wrapping up and early work on her major-label debut begun, The Blade chatted with Bowersox from a concert stop in San Diego nearly two weeks ahead of her Toledo appearance.
Q: How has the tour been for you?
A: It's been all right. I miss my baby (2-year-old son Tony) like crazy, but I know in the long run it's all for him. So, other than that, having a really good time.
Q: Some tour dates were canceled because of poor ticket sales. How has that affected the morale of the performers?
A: I don't think it really mattered much; the places that we have been playing are jam-packed. We are having a good time. We're doing what we love for a living this summer and there's plenty of support on tour right now. I don't think it affects anybody. We sing because we love it and that's what it's about.
Q: Is it still looking like your record will be available sometime in November?
A: I don't really want to say any specific time, because I'm not sure yet. But I just want to make sure it's done right and it's something I'm proud of for a long time.
Q: When we last talked in July, you mentioned Melissa Etheridge might be writing some songs with you for your album. Is that still coming together?
A: Melissa, she's a good friend of mine, but she's been touring this summer, too, and I've been on tour. If anything's still happening, it will happen soon and I don't doubt that it will.
Q: Are you writing with anyone else? Previously you mentioned Linda Perry from 4 Non Blondes and Michael Franti from Spearhead.
A: I don't want to give away too much. There's a few names that I've already mentioned, but I don't want to say anything because I don't know if it's going to make it on the album or not.
Q: Will you still be working with Frankie May (her longtime bassist) and other musicians from Toledo?
A: Well, Frankie I can definitely say will be there. Frankie is always going to be with me, I hope. I love him, he's a friend, he's coming with me.
Q: What kind of album do you think you'll make? What kind of sound should fans expect?
A: I don't want to pigeonhole myself, either. I love country music, I also love rock and roll, I love blues, I love some hip hop and funk. I like a lot of different kinds of music and I think that I'm really going to try and bring a flavor of everything into what I'm doing. Some song may sound straight-up country, while another this rock hip-hop thing. Who knows, magic happens in the studio, so we'll see what happens, what comes out of it.
Q: How are you holding up physically through the tour?
A: I'm tired, I think everybody's tired, but nobody complains. We're having a good time. It's the best kind of exhaustion.
Q: When the show ends in a few days, that will be the first time you've been separated from your fellow Idol performers since February.
A: I think everybody is very ready to branch out and do their own thing and see where their careers take them. We'll at least call each other and meet up if we're in the same city or something like that. I'm not worried about it. Everybody's going on to do something good.
Q: Now that you're single, have you been dating anyone? Or, are you not worried about it?
A: Not worried about it. That's it. Not worried about it.
Q: How's your son, Tony?
A: He's doing good. He's learning something new every day and it just blows my mind every time I see him. He's a tiny little mini-man. He's ready to conquer the world.
Q: How often do you see him?
A: Not very. More so now that I'm on the West Coast because he's nearby. It's nice, when I have a day off and I can go see him or bring him in.
Q: Once the tour wraps up are you going back to L.A. to work on the album?
A: The focus will definitely be on the album. I don't know if it's going to be L.A., New York, or what. But I'm definitely going to be with my son, see my family for a little bit, and get back to work and I'll be all about the album after that.
Q: The Huntington Center isn't the biggest venue you've played on this tour. But the fact that it's your hometown, does that make it special?
A: It's definitely going to be special. I know that my gray-haired rock stars, as I call them, are going to be there, and Frankie's going to be there, and my friends and family and people that I've known growing up. It's going to be really emotional. I'm looking forward to it as part of the making of my history and a little bit of Toledo's, I think. Hopefully. It's cool to be a part of that.
Q: Is Sunday the one date on the tour that you've been looking forward to the most, the one circled on your calendar?
A: Yeah, all along it's been the one I'm looking forward to the most. I've played some really cool venues and the crowds have been amazing, different vibes from different places. I think so far my favorite venue has been Shoreline [Ampitheater] in Mountain View [Calif.]. It's got a little bit of Grateful Dead history there. But other than that, I haven't played home yet. It's the one I'm looking forward to.
Q: Are you planning anything special while you're in town?
A: Well, unfortunately, this time it's just in and out. I don't get to spend a lot of time in the area. I might not get to leave the venue, I'm not really sure. But soon enough I'll be home for a few days and get to go to all my old haunts and a few places that I love.
Q: More than six months ago you left town at one level in your career and now you're returning at a considerably bigger level. Has that transition sunk in?
A: I don't feel I'm at any level, I'm just me. It's just me coming back to my hometown. I'm just glad that everyone is really looking forward to it. It's usually [that] I look forward to coming home, and [now] people are looking forward to me coming home. It's really a special thing.
Q: There have been several stories about you getting your teeth fixed.
A: There was a dentist in New York who had made a public offer to fix them, and I thought it was really rude on his or her part. I thought it was very, very rude and I turned them down publicly because of that. I had braces when I was young and I didn't get the treatment finished. It's something that I already started to do. I think that I'm beautiful on the inside, no matter what. But definitely having a nice smile can make you smile more.
Q: So did you ultimately get them fixed completely?
A: Not completely. They look all right. My health is more important than the cosmetic part of it.
Q: And how are you doing health-wise?
A: I'm doing good. I'm healthy enough to be on the road and in a different city every day. It's not easy, but I'm doing OK.
Q: During a Detroit interview when the tour launched on July 1, one of your fellow Idol performers, Didi Benami, mentioned how much she enjoyed having her hair and makeup done for her before she takes the stage and how much she'll miss that when the tour is over. Are you going to miss those kinds of perks that Idol has afforded you? Or, are you just looking forward to getting back to normalcy?
A: I've been doing my own hair and makeup on tour. I wear street clothes onstage. Sometimes I dress up, sometimes I wear street clothes. It doesn't matter to me. It's about music. I'm just a normal person and I don't need all this glitz and glamor and all that. I'm just a normal girl who grew up on a farm in Ohio and I just want to play music.
American Idol Live! opens at 7:30 Sunday night at the Huntington Center, 500 Jefferson Ave. in downtown Toledo. Tickets are $40.50, $50.50, and $70.50. They can be purchased at all Ticketmaster locations, the Huntington Center Box Office, www.ticketmaster.com and Ticketmaster charge by phone at 800-745-3000.
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