Andrew Garcia performs as the Shoreline in Mountain View in mid-August 2010

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Ca. – Sit down with Andrew Garcia for five minutes and one thing is guaranteed – you will like him.
He’s just one of those kids you are drawn to, you root for.

One of those with an enthusiasm that rubs off on you.

He made it to the Top 10 in this year’s American Idol Season 9 show. That was good enough
for him. He didn’t have to win.

“This is a dream come true. It’s something I have always wanted to do since I started in music,” Garcia said earlier this month during the show’s Summer Tour.

His back-story was one of the ones you remember from the show. He grew up in a gang-infested area of Los Angeles until his family had enough.

“We moved out of L.A. when I was about 6,” he said. “I grew up in Compton. They (his mom and dad) moved us out of there cause there was no way for any kid to grow up like that. There were gangs all over the place.

“But that’s the good thing about the show. They can tell your story and how you got out of a situation so other people can.”

Idol had segments on the entire Garcia family, his mom was in the audience and his father was taped for one segment.

“He had no choice but to do it,” Andrew said of his dad. “I said to him, ‘Hey, they want to know about us so why not tell them.'”

The Garcias moved to Moreno Valley, but Andrew has since gone back to the L.A. area to pursue his musical dream.

“I know who I am as an artist. I know what I want to do. This is like, it’s a job that I love doing. The hardest part about it is being away from my son and girlfriend and my family. But if I had a choice I wish I could bring them all along and I wish I could do this forever,” he said as he looked around at his surroundings during one of the stops on the American Idol Summer Tour.

“It’s not so much learning about myself, it’s about connecting with the crowd. That’s what I’m learning to do. That’s what I’m taking from this Tour, how much the crowd is into it. When you are into it, they are into it and everyday it just gets better and better. You just get comfortable and rapped up in the moment. It’s just amazing.

“When the tour ends (Aug. 31) I will be making an album, trying to get it out there and trying to get back on the road. I have a great platform to work from.”

And if Andrew doesn’t land that lucrative recording contract, what next?

“I’ve been on Youtube. It was going good before I got on the show. I was booking my own shows, how to keep stuff together and to maintain all that. So if I don’t get signed and no one wants to work with me. I can do it on my own. I have a great on-line fan base that kinda gives me hope that no matter what I can still do this for a living.

“Hey, a lot of my friends have done this on-line. They can buy houses, they can buy cars, some of them are millionaires from the Youtube thing. I am not kidding you.

“They have tours, they have all this, it’s insane. So, if nothing works out, if they don’t want me, I always have that.”
But will he stop and relax starting Sept. 1?

“No breaks for me. I mean doing what I’m doing, going to all these cities, this is like a vacation for me. I mean how can this not be a vacation? I am blessed to be able to do this and I am honored to be on this tour.”

His signature song turned out to be Paula Abdul’s ‘Straight Up.’

“Straight Up … Thank God that a lot of people looked at my stuff on YouTube. That song just popped for me. And the Chris Brown song, everyone loved that. Of course, the judges were giving me a hard time, I mean I don’t blame them, it’s their job, but at the same time they had to understand where I was coming from, that’s what I do.

“That’s the kind of guy I am – If I love singing it, if I love hearing it, then I’m gonna do it.

“No. I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do. No. You don’t own me. The reason I’m into music is because it’s so free. And it touches you. Everytime you pick a song you want to sing it’s either because you’ve been through it, or you feel it or it speaks to you. So when I look back on that show I don’t regret any decision that I made.

“My goal was to show the world what I got. To show the judges what I could do. I went into the competition expecting nothing. You just gotta go in there knowing what you can do and give them your 100 percent. Give them your all, give them your sweat and your blood and hopefully something happens and I thank God I’m here right now.”

See what I mean? You just have to like Andrew Garcia.