Stefano Langone performs on Wednesday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose during the American Idol Summer Tour.

SAN JOSE – Let’s be clear about this upfront – for me the American Idol Summer Tour show I witnessed here last Wednesday wasn’t the greatest, but one of the highlights was Stefano Langone.

He’s not the greatest vocalist in the world, not the greatest dancer. What he is is full of energy. He almost makes you want to like him. All of which brings us back to a conversation I had with him earlier on Wednesday.

We were in an interview area in the bowels of HP Pavilion chatting away about the Summer Tour and the opportunities it had brought to him. I told him about my thoughts that this Tour wasn’t how it was always going to be for him and the other Idol finalists and that the past two Idol winners – Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze – had appeared in little, old Santa Rosa this past December to crowds of about 150 instead of the 12,000 he was going to be staring down that night. Basically Allen and DeWyze were, like so many before them, paying their dues.

Langone isn’t a big guy, maybe 5-foot-6 and he sports the scars on his arm from a head-on car accident with a drunk driver when he was a teenager. Actully I was lucky to have him standing there talking to me.

So, to my shock he proceeds to explain his position on Idols past and present. …

“There’s a different component to that (paying your dues at ultra-small venues),” Langone said. “That was then and this is now. That’s what makes this season so different. It’s what makes this group different from anybody else who has done the show. It has to do with timing, it has to do with who you know, it has to do with what you are going to do in the industry. What route you are going to go, what crowd and what people you are going to tap into. What area of music, what genre.

“Right now I know the area I want to go into and what I have to deliver can work and will work in the industry. It’s all about timing and right now the timing is right. I got to meet with bands and the producers of Interscope, one of the hottest record labels in the world right now, I made great relationships with people who want to work with me, people who are writing for me already and (I’m) really using those things to become the artist that I want to become.

“I didn’t do American Idol to be the (next) Lee DeWyze or …. Obviously that’s something that we are all here to not do.”

Well, now, all that caught me off-guard. Granted I am no music wizard, but I always thought there just wasn’t any other way to do it other than start from the bottom, begin at those small bars in Santa Rosa and wind up playing at Shoreline or Carnegie Hall or the Grand Ole Opry.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you can start with a crowd of 12,000 watching and cheering for you at the Shark Tank and stay in that musical universe.

“The Tour is going great,” Langone admitted. “Is it what I expected? Performance-wise, crowd-wise, reaction-wise there are just so many things that come into it.

I mean before I did American Idol I was at home in my apartment with no cable, no internet with my keyboard writing songs and dreaming. And then a year later, exactly, I’m on a national tour.

“I mean it’s pretty incredible. Did I have any expectations? No. I mean I was just in it for the ride and it’s been absolutely great. So many things I am learning. It’s really draining. I had a vocal coach during the season at American Idol Star School who told me you take what you learn from there and I learned a helluva lot. I came a long way and in my opinion I think it made me a beast and I think it’s really cool to get to show that on stage and in my opinion get to be a strong performer, make some fans and prove some critics wrong.”

Mr. DeWyze won Season 9 of American Idol. He’s appeared at the Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa.

Mr. Langone finished No. 7 in Season 10 of American Idol. And last Wednesday he sang “Grenade” superbly, danced very well and interacted with the audience all the way to the point where he took off his shirt and posed for a split-second for the cameras.

Time will tell who is on the fast-track to stardom.