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March 14. 2014 1:19PM

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Alex Preston makes top 10; will tour with 'American Idol'


Alex Preston Philbrick performs recently at Souhegan High School in Amherst before returning to Hollywood as an "American Idol" contestant. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/Union Leader Correspondent)

MONT VERNON -- Saying farewell to his small hometown in Mont Vernon, musician Alex Preston will be traveling on tour this summer as one of the top 10 contestants on "American Idol."

What started out as a pipe dream has become a reality for Preston, 20, a student at the University of New Hampshire. Preston, whose real name is Alex Preston Philbrick, continues to escape elimination from the musical reality show, and this week stunned the judges with his performance on "American Idol."

The nation voted to keep Preston in the competition as the live results show aired Thursday night. Preston has yet to be placed in the bottom three vote-getters.

"We will see you on tour! From the bottom of my heart, thank you," Preston tweeted after the show.

On Wednesday, Preston took the stage to perform his version of "Falling Slowly" from the 2007 Irish musical film "Once."

After providing some constructive criticism to Preston the week before, all three celebrity judges praised the Mont Vernon native following this week's performance -- even showing a glimpse of the Mont Vernon town sign on television.

"Simply stated and elegantly done," Harry Connick Jr. said of Preston's song. "I'm really proud of you man."

Connick said "Idol" is the ideal platform for a guy like Preston to take the stage with his guitar -- without any fireworks -- and make an impression.

"What I love about your performance is that it always holds my attention because it is raw and fragile," said Keith Urban. "It is very real … you are always in the moment."

Even when Preston shows he is tentative, Urban said it is real, adding he loves Preston's artistry.

Jennifer Lopez echoed those comments.

"It was a perfect song for you. You sang it perfectly. It was beautiful," she told him.

Preston admits that he never envisioned the type of success that he is currently experiencing, or that he would be able to hang out in Los Angeles with Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry, former American Idol contestants returning to the show as mentors this season.

During a recent trip back to Souhegan High School in Amherst last month, Preston said he participated in the jazz band and pop band in high school, and performed locally with the band Undertow.

"We weren't good," Preston said at the time, joking at his own youthfulness. Still, Preston said he wanted be a musician and he went for it, auditioning online for "American Idol."

The songwriter and performer plays about a dozen instruments, but apparently feels most comfortable behind the guitar. He has already impressed "American Idol" judges with his own work, as he has performed at least two of his original songs on the show.

khoughton@newstote.com


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