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Season 14 finalists headed to Hampton Casino

Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2015 7:00 am
By Shannon Flynn sflynn@eagletribune.com

The Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom first opened its doors the summer of 1899 in hopes of drawing in more business toward the surrounding railroad services.

As the years progressed, the Casino Ballroom became one of the most popular entertainment venues in New Hampshire, headlining the likes of Louie Armstrong and Ray Charles, Jimmi Hendrix, U2, Jerry Seinfeld and Joan Rivers.
Now, the "American Idol" season 14 finalists are making a stop at the Casino Ballroom next Wednesday, July 29, as part of their "American Idol Live! Tour."

This is the first time the tour includes only the top five performers instead of the top 10 acts, who went on tour in past seasons.
The more exclusive lineup gives the audience a more personal experience with the finalists, because they are allowed more time to interact, perform and tell their stories.

At the show, the audience can expect to hear a few group numbers, some of the songs performed on the show and a few original pieces as well.


This year's runner-up and fan favorite, Clark Beckham, took some time out of his schedule to tell us more about himself, the tour and "American Idol."

The Tennessee native's parents are very musically talented, so it was clear that Beckham would be influenced by them. He said that even though they never pushed him to pursue music, he did so because he loved it. He began singing in church, and eventually his mom became his theater and vocal coach.

Before "Idol," Beckham was a student at Lee University, a Christian institution in Tennessee, studying history. He was playing music on street corners, looking for someone to give him a chance. (He said he couldn't get a gig anywhere when he started.) Upon graduation, he auditioned for "American Idol."

Beckham said he his mom convinced him to try out. He had just auditioned for another show, but it did not go so well and he was feeling put out, he said. When his mom saw "Idol" was coming to Nashville for auditions, she encouraged him to submit a video performance. After a few preliminary interviews, he was selected to perform in front of the judges.

Early on, Beckham was pegged as a frontrunner of the competition, so it was no surprise to viewers that he made it to the final two.

He had nothing but great things to say about his experience on "Idol" and everyone he worked with.

"It was great," he said. "I loved every minute of it."

He added that everyone from the cameramen to the vocal coaches "treats you really, really well."

"I miss them already," he said.

His most memorable experience on "Idol" was performing at the finale with singer-songwriter Michael McDonald.

Since making it on the show, Beckham said his life has changed drastically.

"Six months ago, I was performing on the street, begging for someone to look at me," he said. "Now I walk down the street and someone will recognize me."

After the tour ends, he plans to try and get signed by a label so he can begin working on a new album. Either way, he said he will be working with music full-time, no matter what. But, Beckham has some time to figure out his next move, seeing as he has another month of touring after the Hampton Beach show.

Along with the Hampton Beach performance, the tour makes stops in Portland, Providence and Worcester, which gives the Idols a good look at New England. Beckham said he has only been to New York City, never any farther Northeast. He has been told how beautiful New England is and is excited to see the scenery and the nature.

But his favorite part of touring is singing and getting to play for the audience.

"Everyone brings their A-game," he said. "It's a killer show."