Quick – how many people do you know who have ever collaborated professionally with Jason Mraz, Jennifer Lopez or Keith Urban?
While many of you probably just said, “None,” there’s a chance that some of you do, in fact, know Alex Preston, second runner-up on American Idol XIII.
Preston, 23, is a Mont Vernon native who became known to the world when he appeared on the hit musical talent show in 2014. Now, after a few years of fame have allowed him to move to Nashville to follow his dreams, he’s coming back to the Granite State to play in front of some familiar faces at the Capitol Center for the Arts in downtown Concord.
The singer/songwriter will take the stage at the Cap Center’s Spotlight Café – the smaller, more intimate venue downstairs – this Saturday at 8 p.m. to run through some of his original music.
The Cap Center is no stranger to hosting big-time acts, but it’s not too often that a big-time act from New Hampshire swings through. Come to think of it, how many other “big-time” music acts are from the Granite State? (As a Massachusetts native, I will never let New Hampshire claim Aerosmith, try as they might.) That’s why we thought it would be cool to talk to Preston and find out what life has been like since he became a nationally recognized celebrity.
“It was definitely weird,” Preston said when asked what it was like to go from small-town New Hampshire to the American Idol stage. “I didn’t expect it to happen at all, but it was cool.”
“Cool.” Talk about an understatement.
As I spoke with Preston, I learned that he’s pretty “cool” himself. He plays a dozen instruments and writes all his own lyrics and music. He doesn’t have a record label – “I kind of am the label,” he said. He chooses his own backing musicians – usually his friends who aren’t even professionals. He recorded his debut album by himself in a cabin somewhere in the North Country. He still talks to a ton of his old New Hampshire friends.
And he can’t wait to play the Cap Center – again.
“Right when I jumped out on the show, I sold out two shows at the Cap, but that was the very first time coming home so people flew in from California and stuff,” Preston said of his first gigs at the Cap Center, back when his stardom was still brand new.
This time around, things have a more relaxed feel.
“I’m not nervous, I’m more excited,” he said. “I’m more nervous about the other shows where I don’t know anybody, so this is comforting in a way.”
Preston will stay with his family while he’s here – about a week or so. This means it’s back to borrowing mom and dad’s cars to get around for the week, but at least he should be able to get a few home-cooked meals out of it. It’s a life that was once the only way but is now a fond reminder of where he came from.
“It’s definitely different, but it’s definitely a grind,” he said of his life in the spotlight. “I love it still – you kind of have to love it or else nothing’s gonna happen.”
Preston has a self-titled album that will be for sale at the show, and he’s in the process of working on another one right now – keep an eye out for it in the summer. In the meantime, check out his show at the Cap Center on Saturday. Tickets are $15 and available at ccanh.com.