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Archive for July, 2011

Paul McDonald recalls good times in Atlanta

Paul McDonald at Gwinnett Arena. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Paul McDonald at Gwinnett Arena. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Compared to his fellow season 10 “Idol” contestants, Paul McDonald is very much the journeyman, similar to older contestants from previous seasons such as Taylor Hicks, Bucky Covington and Bo Bice.

Nobody else on this tour has the experience or perspective he possesses. He has been touring for years. As an Alabama native and Nashville resident, he has spent plenty of time working the small clubs in Atlanta such as Smith’s Olde Bar and Vinyl. He did 99X’s Unplugged In the Park at Park Tavern and the Virginia Highland Summerfest.  He spent his day off in Atlanta last Monday with his “Twilight” actress fiance Nikki Reed in Little Five Points and lunched at the Vortex. When he’s not on stage (and he spends less time on stage than anybody else on the “Idol” tour), he goes back to the tour bus and works on his original music.

He did “Idol” as a lark, had no thought he’d ever make it to the top 10. He’s just enjoying the …

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James Durbin talks about his family, metal music, Lady Gaga

AP photo

AP photo

Here’s my interview from Tuesday with James Durbin, the rocker who came in fourth.

We discussed his family, his love for metal and a beef he has with Lady Gaga. And he is enjoying the lack of pressure on tour, not that he didn’t consider “Idol” that pressure packed.

“I didn’t take it as pressure on the show,” he said. “I took it a week at a time. I used everything I could to my advantage. Acted wild and made new friends.”

He also implies he has things cooking for an album though it appears he has to stay mum until he is off the tour and freed of any contractual ties with 19 Entertainment.

Just talking to him, I could tell what a fun dude he can be. That mischievous grin of his says everything, eh?

As the video above shows, Durbin also had a beef with Gaga beyond her grabbing his butt. He believes her current hit song “Edge of Glory” rips off a portion of Kiss’s song “Sure Know Something.”

And since he brought it up, here’s Kiss song “Sure Know Something.”

And …

Continue reading James Durbin talks about his family, metal music, Lady Gaga »

Catching up: Lee DeWyze engaged, Haley Reinhart with Interscope

Haley at the Idols Live concert. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Haley at the Idols Live concert. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

While focused so much on the tour this week, I have neglected to report stuff that has been already floating around the Webisphere. So here ya go, in very quick fashion:

- Lee DeWyze, some dude who won “Idol” last year, is engaged to a model/actress Jonna Walsh, reports People. Yes, the Billy Joel/Christie Brinkley paradigm continues.

- Haley Reinhart has signed with Interscope Records.  “Idol”-affiliated record companies have so far picked up Haley, Scott McCreery, Lauren Alaina and Pia Toscano.

- And in upcoming news that never seems to happen but inevitably will: Hollywood Reporter says Jennifer Lopez will sign her contract with “Idol” this week. She reportedly was paid $12 million last year and may have been holding out for more this time around.

- Season 9’s Casey James is ready to release an album with a single dropping August 15. It’s dubbed “Let’s Not Call It A …

Continue reading Catching up: Lee DeWyze engaged, Haley Reinhart with Interscope »

Another talk with Lauren Alaina

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AP photo of Lauren Alaina during her hometown visit in May

I spoke with Lauren Alaina earlier this month by phone while she was in Grand Prairie, Tx., but she was available again in person at the Gwinnett Arena Tuesday so I grabbed her for a few more minutes. The video is below.

We talked about her ankle sprain and the poor decision of wearing four-inch wedges so soon after getting out of the cast. And we gabbed a bit about current country songs, though I goofed and misidentified “Country Girls Shake It For Me” as a Jason Aldean song instead of Luke Bryan. (So much for my country cred!) At least I was able to quickly ID Aldean’s current hit as “Dirt Road Anthem.”

Proving what a bubble Lauren has been in, she said she hasn’t even heard “Dirt Road Anthem,” which was No. 1 on the country charts last week.

MJ reports that “Idol Live” so far is doing really well. It has sold at least 90% of its tickets in most locales so far and has had several sell outs. (Gwinnett was sold out as …

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‘Idols Live’ season 10 tour at Gwinnett Arena: the kids are all right

Last year, I got Lee DeWyze to look into my camera (or close enough). I was in the fifth row. I was much further away this time around in Section 116 but again, I got the winner to (kinda) look at me. Thanks Scotty! CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.om

Last year, I got Lee DeWyze to look into my camera (or close enough). I was in the fourth row. This time around, I was much further away in Section 116 but again, I got the winner to (kinda) look at me from about 50 feet away. Thanks Scotty! ALL PHOTO CREDITS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.om

“I’m home! Nothing beats the Georgia sky!”

That was Lauren Alaina’s joyous greeting to the sold-out Georgia crowd at the Gwinnett Arena Tuesday night.  And it was hard to beat the depth and breadth of season 10’s talent. This year’s victory lap of a concert tour proved that across the board, from R&B (a not-too-screechy Jacob Lusk doing a fine Luther Vandross) to hard rock (a captivating James Durbin) to jazz (Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart sparking with “Moanin’ “) to dance pop (Naima Adedapo pulled off a far better “On the Floor” than J. Lo, though that’s not saying too much from a vocal standpoint.)

While I shot photos from my seat as you can see below, Robb Cohen took some amazing professional …

Continue reading ‘Idols Live’ season 10 tour at Gwinnett Arena: the kids are all right »

‘Idols’ visit Ryan Seacrest’s The Voice at Children’s Healthcare

Children and all 11 "Idols" visited the Voice studios at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Tuesday morning. Lauren Alaina, Naima Adedapo and Haley Reinhart can be easily seen here. ALL PHOTOS HERE: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Children and all 11 "Idols" visited the Voice studios at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Tuesday morning. Lauren Alaina, Naima Adedapo and Haley Reinhart can be easily seen here. ALL PHOTOS HERE: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

From Scotty to Naima, all 11 “American Idols” on tour this season stopped by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta near Emory University to meet with ailing children and talk with The Voice, Ryan Seacrest’s multi-media studio Tuesday morning.

All of them squeezed into the studio to talk for 30 minutes with Wendy Threatt, the Voice jock who used to work at Star 94, Ryan’s first employer. Lauren Alaina and Haley Reinhart were the gabbiest, with Casey Abrams, James Durbin and Jacob Lusk contributing plenty as well. Quietest? Paul McDonald and Pia Toscano. Pia and Haley seemed very tight, sitting together in the studio and during the autograph session afterwards.

I don’t recall any major news developments. Jacob wants to do Broadway and name-dropped Tyler …

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Casey Abrams talks frankly about his medical problems

Casey Abramas at an event sponsored by the Ga. chapter of Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead July 22, 2011. PHOTO CREDITS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Casey Abramas at an event sponsored by the Ga. chapter of Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead July 22, 2011. PHOTO CREDITS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Casey Abrams, who finished sixth this past season on “Idol,” found out in 2009 during his freshman year in college that he had ulcerative colitis, a chronic digestive inflammation that can be extremely painful and causes internal bleeding if left untreated. Flare ups happen, especially in times of stress.

In fact, he landed in the hospital twice during “Idol” because of it, almost forcing him to leave the show.

Although there is no cure, there are medications to relieve the symptoms. For a time prior to “Idol,” Abrams said he thought the condition would prevent him from becoming a full-time touring musician.

He recalled thinking, “I can’t do music anymore. This isn’t going to be fun. I’d be weak and have no energy.” But in the end, he added, “it gave me a reason to keep fighting [and try …

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Top ‘Idol’ earner past year is Carrie Underwood; Pia Toscano gets pimped

AP photo of Carrie Underwood

AP photo of Carrie Underwood

No surprise here: Carrie Underwood was by far the biggest “Idol” earner, according to Forbes, drawing $20 million from May 2010 to May 2011.

Tied for second: Daughtry ($6 million) and Adam Lambert ($6 million.)  Daughtry had a moderate follow-up album but pocketed a decent amount of cash from touring. Lambert earned much of his cash from his world-wide tour.

No. 4:  Fantasia pulled in $4 million from her reality show and her new album and tour.

And here’s a surprise at No. 5: Jordin Sparks earned $3 million. Honestly, I have no idea how they got their figure. Her album has not done well at all, with no hit singles and she’s not a big concert draw.

No. 6: Kelly Clarkson: $2.5 million. She got some more radio airplay from a few hits but didn’t tour that much.

Jennifer Hudson, at No. 7, also barely toured and earned $2 million based on her new album. She has a film coming up starring as Winnie Mandela. I expect her earnings estimates will go up …

Continue reading Top ‘Idol’ earner past year is Carrie Underwood; Pia Toscano gets pimped »

Promoter alleges Bucky Covington stole $1,500

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I find this one hard to belief but there is a police report and TMZ dutifully reported that Bucky Convington allegedly stole $1,500 from a promoter earlier this month. (No, it was no Wild Bill’s, where he performed July 1.)

Bucky — who placed 8th on “Idol” back in 2006 — was set to perform at the Iron Horse Saloon in Ormond Beach, Florida on June 30 as part of a July 4 NASCAR race week celebration … when the promoter suffered chest pains and was rushed to a nearby hospital. With the promoter out of the picture, Bucky allegedly saw an opportunity to raid the cash box — and instructed his brother and his brother’s wife to pull off a snatch and grab.

True. Not true? We’ll find out soon enough.

Continue reading Promoter alleges Bucky Covington stole $1,500 »

Interview with ‘Idol’ runner up Lauren Alaina

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AP photo of Lauren Alaina

Lauren Alaina still needs work on high heels. She wobbled and fell down some stairs earlier this month, her sprained ankle landing in a cast for a couple weeks.

The cast came off earlier this week and she was able to perform on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City without it.  “I’m so glad to be out of that darn thing,” said the 16 year old rising junior from Rossville, Ga, in a phone interview earlier this week from Grand, Prairie, Tx, the next stop on the48-city tour. “It drove me nuts that I couldn’t walk across the stage. I had to hop. People had to help me up and down the stairs.”

Off stage, she said she had to be escorted by wheelchair to get from one place to another. “It was hard to go quickly with crutches,” she said. “It was so embarrassing [to be in a wheelchair.] People laugh at what happened. It’s not really funny.”

Fortunately, Alaina said the sprain healed relatively quickly. She’ll be ambulatory, in other words, come July 26  for the …

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