‘Idol’ contestant eager to return to Dusty Armadillo

By John Benson


Country singer Casey James has been on more than a few big stages in his life, yet it’s a gig earlier this year at the Dusty Armadillo that the Season 9 “American Idol” contestant remembers fondly.

“It was an amazing show and a packed house, but I’m happy to be going back when it’s not freezing,” said James, calling from his Fort Worth, Texas, home. “I felt bad because there was a huge line waiting to get in and it was so cold out. I was thinking, ‘Just let these folks in. They have to be miserable out there.’ But the show, man, it really was a fun time.

“Also, my bass player almost hit his head on the ceiling when he jumped. I definitely hit a couple of guitars on the ceiling because we’re a rambunctious group when we play our music. But I love that place. It’s a great venue.”

James and company do it all again, sans freezing weather (hopefully!), with a gig tonight at the Rootstown roadhouse. It’s been an interesting three years since the country singer came in third on “American Idol.”

His self-titled album debuted at No. 2 on the country charts last year and spawned top 25 singles “Let’s Don’t Call It a Night” and “Crying on a Suitcase.”

From the start, the artist was a little bit different. Not only did he write nine of the album’s 11 tracks, but he channeled a sound that incorporated hints of R&B, blues and Southern rock.

Now, after recently getting the green light from his record label to record a sophomore album, James is looking back before looking ahead.

“After I made the first record, I realized it is slow-paced for a live show,” James said. “So we began to adjust things to make it more fun and up-tempo for the audience. Now for the next album, I’m super-excited. I can already tell it’s going to be a huge difference. People will see a lot of progression with confidence and song direction and overall my voice getting better.”

While James’ second album isn’t due out until 2014, he’s already road- testing songs that could end up on the project. This includes tunes that may get stage time at the Dusty Armadillo.

“We’ve been playing ‘A Woman’s Touch,’ which has a very sexy vibe,” James said. “I’m pretty sure it’ll be on the next record. Another song that may be on the CD is the uptempo ‘Get on a Roll.’”

Considering his previous Rootstown gig and the low ceilings, it’s suggested that perhaps the band don some sort of headgear — football helmets or construction hard hats — to ensure no one gets concussed.

“That would be quite funny, but no, probably not,” he said with a laugh.

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