Tuesday, November 6, 2012 • Doors 7pm • Show 8pm • $17 Advance • $20 Day of Show • $57 VIP Meet & Greet • All Ages
With his rough-hewn voice and laid-back Midwestern charm, Lee DeWyze won over millions of viewers as a contestant and eventual winner of the ninth season of American Idol. An accomplished singer, guitarist, and songwriter who had already built a following on the Chicago club scene by the time he auditioned for Idol, DeWyze displays his true nature as an artist on his major-label debut Live It Up. The title track captures the easy-going sprit of the album — a breezy blend of rootsy pop, rock, and folk, anchored by DeWyze’s soulful, husky voice and bright-sounding acoustic guitar.
“I love guys like Cat Stevens, Kris Kristofferson, Dave Matthews, and Ray LaMontagne,” DeWyze says. “I’m a sucker for hard-edged vocals over pretty melodies and catchy grooves, so that’s what I wanted to do on this album. It shows the flip-side of what I was able to present on Idol because it’s 100 percent me. I’m so proud of it.”
Working with top-notch collaborators such as Toby Gad (Alicia Keys, Fergie), John Shanks (Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow), David Hodges (Kelly Clarkson, Weezer) and Norwegian production team Espionage (Beyoncé, Train), DeWyze co-wrote nearly every song on Live It Up, which he recorded while on the road over the summer with the “American Idol Live” tour. “To see my name listed in the credits was really important to me because I’m a songwriter,” DeWyze says. “I also loved working with such talented writers. They all brought so much to the table and really helped me flesh out my ideas.”
DeWyze created his own musical memories growing up with three siblings in Mount Prospect, Illinois, where his mother worked at a local hospital and his father was a postal carrier. “Sunday was my dad’s day off, so that was when he’d put on records and we’d just listen to music all day long,” DeWyze says. “I have such vivid recollections of that time. We listened to Simon & Garfunkel, Grand Funk Railroad, The Mamas & The Papas, and Cat Stevens. Tea for the Tillerman was my favorite album. I have the lyrics to ‘Father and Son’ tattooed on my arm.” When DeWyze was 14, he hauled his dad’s old guitar out of the closet and begged him to get it restrung so he could learn how to play. Working with a book of Beatles chords his father gave him, DeWyze began to teach himself basic progressions. “I’d play the chords and sing my own thing to them because I didn’t know how to write music. So I’d sing my own lyrics along to ‘Yellow Submarine,’” he recalls with a laugh.
As time went on, DeWyze’s musicianship improved and he began writing his own songs. At age 17, he was discovered by the owners of a Chicago indie record label, which released two of his independent albums. In January 2010, DeWyze found himself, at the urging of his bandmates, standing in line at Chicago’s United Center along with 12,000 aspiring singers waiting to try out for American Idol. “It was literally a question of ‘Why the hell not?’” says DeWyze, who was the only male contestant never to wind up in the competition’s bottom three.
In August 2010, DeWyze was back at Chicago’s United Center, this time to headline the “American Idol Live” tour — a far cry from that first cattle call audition that sealed his future: putting out Live It Up on 19 Recordings/RCA Records. “Releasing an album on a major label is why I did the show,” DeWyze says. “American Idol didn’t teach me who I was as an artist. I already knew who I was. The hard part was learning how to be on the show, avoiding cameras flying around, and surviving the judging panel. But my attitude was to go out there, sing the songs, have fun, and whatever happens, happens. Every week I was still there, I felt grateful. Even though I hadn’t won, this is what I would be doing. I just want to make music that I love and that other people will love.”