Well Sacramento, we might just have another "American Idol" contender in our midst. I just got word that Ryan Hernandez is taking the bird to L.A. on Friday for a second audition - presumably for the TV judges, a.k.a. Simon, Randy and Paula.
Hernandez, 22 (pictured at left), is a Sacramento waiter who also happens to sing. And, encouraged by his friends and family to audition back in August with, oh, about 10,000 other "Idol" hopefuls, he hitched a ride with another local woman and her mom to Los Angeles for the tryouts.
"It was a three-day process," Hernandez says when reached by phone. "We were packed into the Rose Bowl. I'm not sure how many they picked, but I think I was about the 20th person that made it out of about 500 seated in my section."
Hernandez sang for the show's producers. Twice, no less. "I sang a song by Sam Cook ("A Change is Gonna Come"), and then they asked me to sing one more time, so I performed Gavin DeGraw's 'I Don't Want To Be.'
"My nerves were jumping, but the producers told me they were moving me on to the next round," Hernandez says. "They gave me some pointers and told me not to be too nervous."
Hernandez is no newcomer to performing. He's been singing - mostly Saturdays - for the past five months at the Sartory Coffee Company in El Dorado Hills (near Masque Restaurant). In fact, the cafe is hosting a good-luck party for him around 7 tonight. He'll perform (although not too much - gotta rest those vocal chords), and there'll be a champagne toast before he takes off for Southern California.
When I asked him what he planned to sing there, Hernandez says he's been toying with a variety of songs. He's always been a fan of soul music (think Taylor Hicks and his Soul Patrol), the blues and R&B with a contemporary style.
"I'll probably decide right before I go in. Different songs put me in different moods."
And, just so he's prepared for anything, Hernandez says he bought the DVDs from the first four seasons of "American Idol." "I never made it a weekly thing to watch. I've seen a lot online."
His thoughts on the fact that millions and millions - and millions - of people will likely tune in to the show once it starts airing early next year?
"I think I can stand up to the test."
So OK, Ryan, prepare to meet another Ryan. That would be Seacrest.