American Idol winner David Cook to perform Feb. 23 at Solana Beach’s Belly Up

‘American Idol’ winner David Cook performs Feb. 23 at the Belly Up Tavern.

It’s a Wednesday afternoon in Nashville, and David Cook is wrapping up rehearsals for his upcoming American tour, which takes him to Solana Beach’s Belly Up on Feb. 23.

“Today’s kind of a get-loose day,” he explained. “We’ve been doing a lot of tech stuff. Adding visual elements like lighting — stuff that makes us look cooler than we really are.”

In reality, Cook doesn’t have to try hard to be cool. As the winner of the seventh season of the Fox favorite “American Idol,” Cook beat thousands of competitors to join a select few as the best singer in the land.

“I won when I was 25,” he remembered of his run on the show in 2008. “I still don’t know if I’ve gotten used to whatever has happened since. From age zero to 25, I had one life, and then boom, it changed. I had to completely rewire from scratch. I’m eternally thankful it happened.”

In the past seven years, Cook has maintained a good relationship with the show and still has fond memories of his experience. “They’ve been great about being open as a platform,” he explained. “Everyone from the show has this incredible connection that will last for the rest of our lives. From on the stage to behind the scenes, it’s a small-family vibe.”

Winning the popular series propelled Cook’s music career into the stratosphere, from smash hit songs (like the Top 40 “Light On”), to two hit albums, and a variety of tours. Throughout his success, Cook has found plenty of inspiration for new material, including moving to Nashville from his home in suburban Kansas City.

“I’ve lived in both Kansas and Los Angeles,” he said. “While I loved them, I’ve found that Nashville has a mix of things I need for work and reminds me of Kansas as well. From the Southern vibe to good barbecue, and the fact that the creative community is more open as well.”

Along with writing and recording material for himself, Cook is also supporting a side career as a blossoming songwriter for other artists. This past November, a song he wrote for country music singer David Nail called “Kiss Me Tonight” was included on Nail’s latest album.

“I’ve always wanted to write for other people,” Cook said. “When I first came out here, I wrote ‘Kiss Me Tonight’ during my third writing session and it’s snowballed from there. Wearing different hats fulfills me creatively.”

When Cook rolls into the Belly Up come Feb. 23, fans should expect a mix of his hits, songs he’s written for other artists, and some brand-new material from his next album, which is set for release later this year.

“We wrote and recorded in my home studio and every day was enjoyable and fun,” said Cook of the as-yet-unreleased tracks. “Even if we didn’t come up with anything, I knew I was at least going to have a good time doing it. What I love is that there’s a song on this new record for everybody. I wanted to make a creative album I can be proud of, and I think we accomplished that.”

As for performing at the Belly Up, Cook has a fondness for the venue — and San Diego in general. “When I was living in Los Angeles, whenever I had down time, I would take the trip downstate to San Diego,” he says. “The weather’s great and the people are fantastic, so I’m really looking forward to coming back.”

According to Cook, the arduous lifestyle of touring becomes worth it when everything comes together. “As a performer, there’s nothing better than walking into a well-put-together venue. A good band, a good show, and a good crowd is a really addictive combination.”

The doors open at 7 p.m. on Feb. 23 and the show begins at 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.bellyup.com or www.davidcookofficial.com.


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