Crystal Bowersox preps in Aspen for live album recording

Crystal Bowersox is playing a string of concerts in Colorado before recording a live album in New Mexico next week.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

Who: Crystal Bowersox

Where: Wheeler Opera House

When: Saturday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $25/GA; $50/VIP

Tickets: Wheeler box office;

In the six years since she wowed a national audience on “American Idol” with her fiery performances, Crystal Bowersox continues to go her own way.

The 2010 “American Idol” runner-up is headlining the Wheeler Opera House on Saturday, opening the historic theater’s winter season and preparing for a live album recording.

Her series of Colorado shows are a dry run for a trio of concerts next week at The Kitchen Sink in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Bowersox will record a live album. The performances will showcase new material along with a handful of songs off of “All That For This” (2013) and “Farmer’s Daughter” (2010).

After those two records mined Bowersox’s personal life and angst for her best-known songs like “Farmer’s Daughter” and “Dead Weight,” the new material is taking on a sunnier tone.

“I’ve had a lot of positive changes in my personal life and I feel like my music is reflecting that,” she said from Nashville this week before heading to Colorado for shows in Fort Collins, Denver and Aspen. “More upbeat, more storytelling. I’ve been trying to write songs that aren’t necessarily my own story, but putting myself in the shoes of others and crafting characters, as well. It’s got country influences, blues, rock ­— it’s folk and Americana.”

The Ohio native also has settled in Nashville in recent years. She said the creative crucible of Music City, USA has made her a better writer and performer.

“It’s helped me grow as a songwriter and as a musician,” she said. “Nashville is a community of people — there’s competition, but it’s healthy. It makes people genuinely happy to see others succeed.”

After touring for several years as a pure solo act, a duo and a trio, Bowersox is now playing with a full band behind her for what promises to be a harder rocking Americana show.

While most fans first discovered Bowersox through her spirited covers of classics like “Me and Bobby McGee” on television’s most popular singing competition, don’t expect a rehash of those performances.

“If people are looking for an ‘American Idol’ revue show, this is not it,” she said.

With her gritty taste and throwback folk style, Bowersox was never going to be a cookie-cutter pop star in the “American Idol” mode. Competing at age 25, she was already fully formed as an artist and performer and ready for the national stage. She auditioned for the show, she said, in the hopes of better supporting her young son — not because she wanted to be the next Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood.

But she learned a lot from competing on the show and owes her career to it.

“It taught me what I was capable of,” she said. “What I could do, as far as a live show. But I don’t have smoke machines and laser lights and high heels at my show. It’s really about pure, organic music for me.”

The Aspen show will be her last before rolling tape on the live album. Bowersox plans to release the concert album early in the new year. She may go into the studio to record more polished versions of the new songs at some point. But, after years of touring, the self-proclaimed “road warrior” is hoping to harness the power of her vaunted live shows.

“Recording in a studio, for me, the energy isn’t quite the same,” she said. “I feed off the energy that the crowd gives during a performance. And I was missing that.”