Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze in "Idol" spin
*Very interesting to reflect back on Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze when they made the Top 12...
Less than an hour after learning they had made the final 12 on Fox's American Idol, Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze arrived Thursday night at a nightclub on L.A.'s busy La Cienga Boulevard for their first taste of what Idol stardom could bring them.
"This is insane. This is crazy. This is nuts," Dewyze told the Sun-Times, spinning around to take in the media melee of shouting reporters, flashing photographers and TV journalists.
The Arlington Heights native, who prior to making the Idol cut was splitting his time between Mount Prospect and Chicago, was quick to credit his local roots as being key to his success.
Over the past few years, Dewyze has played gigs at numerous area venues, including FitzGerald's in Berwyn, the Abbey Pub, the House of Blues, the Elbo Room and the Underground Lounge.
"So many people have been supportive. Family, friends and the whole town -- Chicagoans I never have even met -- have reached out and been so supportive. It's been an incredible experience."
As one of the contestants on the top-rated talent competition, Dewyze knows the Idol judges rank him among those who truly know who they are as performers. Yet Dewyze said that while his personal confidence and secure understanding of his talent is helpful, it doesn't necessarily make him a front-runner.
"Does it give me an edge? Maybe yes, maybe no," he said. "But I definitely know who I am and what kind of musician and artist I want to be. That's something I've always known."
"This is just the beginning for me, a platform to help me do many great things in music" -- like following in the footsteps of his inspirations, including "classic rockers like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, but also great lyric writers and storytellers like Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel or Eric Clapton."
Bowersox of Toledo, Ohio, auditioned in Chicago last summer after spending a "good part of the last five years living in Chicago." Like Dewyze, Bowersox knows it's her seemingly cool confidence and clear understanding of how best to project her gifts that has many Idol observers ranking her high among the finalists.
"I've known who I am for a long time," she said. "I've been doing this for a long time. Yet, it was this year -- after becoming a mother -- that I came completely into my own and became completely comfortable in my own skin."
"I think that shows, and people seem to be responding to it."
While the singer worked the music scene at various local clubs, "I really think some of the best training -- so to speak -- for 'American Idol' came from all the times I was playing for quarters in the subway and on the L platforms."
As she walked the Idol blue carpet Thursday in a sexy black wrap dress and carefully applied makeup, it was clear that Bowersox had glammed up her look from her days by the trains.
Thursday was a "bit of a roller coaster -- pretty emotional," as Bowersox put it. While she and Dewyze were thrilled to make the final 12, the two singers felt sad that competitors they had personally bonded with -- Katelyn Epperly and Lilly Scott -- had been sent home.
"I'm celebrating the fact I'm still here, but I'm also grieving for the loss of my friends," Bowersox said.
Dewyze agreed. "I made some really good friends, and it's never fun to see friends go. But as far as the competition goes, I'm going to keep doing what I think I do best and go as far as I can."