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August 21, 2009
"Idol's" David Cook headlines opening night of fair


ANDREW H. WALKER/Getty Images

He's definitely one of the most popular "American Idol" winners, so it's a treat - beyond cotton candy - to have David Cook as the opening-night highlight tonight at the State Fair.

His performance is at the Golden 1 Stage. Crash Kings will get things rocking at 7:30 p.m., with David and his band to follow.

David called me on Thursday as he and the band packed up their equipment, including video games, and headed north from Lancaster. With the monumental success of his debut album - "David Cook" - the "Idol" winner last spring extended his nationwide tour (which included many college stops) until the end of the year. The band just did its 100th show in Knoxville.

So a stop in Sacramento was an easy choice.

"The tour has been a learning process for all of us - me, the band, the crew, the label - because none of us had experience doing the college circuit," David says. "It was raw, it was real, and the reason we extended it was because we had a 96 or 97 percent sell-out rate."

He says what makes the shows work is that the band doesn't go on stage just to play songs.

"A fan two months ago told me, 'Your show is a lot of sweat, stink and fun.' That's because we love to crack jokes on ourselves."

David's album, which has sold a whopping 1.4 million copies, was also a stunner to him. "I remember fighting to sell 1,000 (copies), so it's crazy!"

He still credits the juggernaut singing competition with launching his amazing career. In fact, David performed a couple weeks ago with the top two finishers from this season's "Idol" - winner Kris Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert.

"It was part of 'Good Morning America's' concert series (pictured)," he says. "I was just an observer this year, so the competition was interesting to watch. The two of them get along great, but you could definitely tell where the battle lines were drawn."

On Season 9 of "Idol," which will be minus judge Paula Abdul (at least right now), David says "Nobody will come on the show and try to replace her. That would be a huge insult to the viewing public.

"I think both parties will be just fine."

David says tonight's concert-goers should include kids and parents, baby boomers and Gen-Xrs. "Interestingly, as the tour has gone on, the male audience has increased, which is great," he adds.

As for his next album, he says he's started the writing process. In the meantime, he's getting revved up for college football season, downloading iTunes and waiting for the next season of "House" on Fox.

Tonight's concert is free with fair admission ($12 general). Reserved seats near the stage are $45 at the Cal Expo box office or Tickets.com. For more info, click here.

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