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‘American Idol’ star Crystal Bowersox coming back to town
Crystal Bowersox — who entered the national music scene on “American Idol” in 2010, when she placed second — has recently released her sophomore CD, “All That For This,” and is touring to support the album. Of course a number of Chicago music lovers first heard Bowersox during those several important years in Our Town, beginning in 2004, when she busked in the subway and performed at local clubs and bars.
Tuesday, Bowersox and her band will be back — performing at City Winery Chicago. Recently we caught up as she called while touring in Minneapolis.
Q: What was your process in putting together “All That For This”
A: First of all [producer] Steve Berlin made it what it is. The guy just has an amazing ear for music and the people who make it.
It definitely is a process. I gave Steve access to my entire catalog of unrecorded material — and that includes demos that go back to when I was 10! Even stuff I wrote in the subway when I was living in Chicago. So he took his pick. I had my picks and there were a few that didn’t make the list, but I’m really happy with how it all turned out.
Q: You long have been attached to the Patsy Cline musical in which you’d play the title role. How’s that coming?
A: It is moving along. They did some script rewrites and the cast is coming together. It just takes a long time. That’s the way the Broadway world goes. Schedules change and things get shifted around at the drop of a dime, but we’re rolling with it. It IS going to happen.
Q: Is it safe to say you’ve been a longtime fan of Patsy Cline?
A: For sure, yes. Come on! She was the first woman to wear pants at the Grand Ole Opry. Why wouldn’t I be? She was a salty broad. I love her and the music she made.
Q: Broadway certainly will be a new kind of venue for you. What do you think that will be like?
A: First of all, as a mother it means I can be home every single night. I will be ble to put my son Tony to bed and wake up with him. I love to tour, but touring is tough. I don’t get to bring him with me. Plus I’ve never lived in the Big Apple, so I’m excited about that.
Q: Speaking of your son, Tony, how has motherhood changed you?
A: He’s going to be 5 in January. He was born on North Halsted. He’s a real Chicagoan. He’s always going, ‘Mama, when are we going back to Chicago?’ He remembers it.
I think the way I’ve changed is more about the topics and the things I sing about. He is going to listen to what I sing about. I want to make things are pretty G-rated for now! Also, I work a lot harder than I did before he was born. I know that for him that is necessary. I want to set a good example.
Q: Since you’re going to be in Chicago this week, what are you looking forward to doing, besides performing at City Winery?
A: I’m looking forward to it, plus we have a couple of off days too, which we’ve worked into the schedule. So, I’ll have time to stop by get some Giordano’s, plus see some old friends.
Q: “American Idol” was your launching pad to a national career. Do you still watch it? What are your thoughts about it now?
A: You know – even before “Idol” – I have never been a television watcher. I have never been into that media culture. Of course, I had heard about the show, because if you hadn’t you would have to have been living under a rock. I haven’t been able to watch the show a lot. But when I do, I again experience those emotions I felt when I was on the show – that sense of anxiety. – I always root for everybody, because I understand how tough it is to go through all that. … But I did vote for one girl last year – Kree Harrison from Nashville. I thought she had a lot of promise.
Q: On this new album what are some of your favorites?
A: Man, that’s hard! ‘Movin’ on’ is one of my favorites, because the original demo was nothing like how it sounded like on the final record. Somehow [producer] Steve [Berlin] heard that somewhat slower, subdued demo and turned it into what it is. The horn part is just sick, awesome.
I also love ‘I Am.’ I wrote that song at 3730-something North Pine Grove what I was about 21. There’s a nice Chicago tie I always remember there.
By the way, I also want to talk about my band. They are a great bunch of really talented musicians. I lovingly call them the ‘Meatbirds.’ My very best friend in Ohio is a chicken farmer. In her honor, I call my band the ‘Meatbirds.’