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‘American Idol’ hopefuls get jamming in Old Town


Tyler Starritt of El Paso was first in line at 2 a.m. Friday in Old Town and the first to be selected to move on to the next round of auditions for “American Idol.” (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As the sun rose Friday, there was a wave of positive energy in Old Town.

Hundreds of hopefuls patiently waited in line for the opportunity to audition for the ABC reality singing competition series “American Idol.”

The line wrapped around the Old Town Plaza and remained steady throughout the day.

Albuquerque was one of 20 stops that the two “American Idol” buses will make in four weeks, as producers look for undiscovered talent.


Jordan Olguin, center, starts a jam session with Jonathan Dixon and Kristen Horning as they wait for their turn to audition for “American Idol” in Old Town Plaza. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Tyler Starritt drove up from El Paso to be the first in line at 2 a.m.

The 28-year-old singer is auditioning again, this time for the last time, as he is at the show’s age limit.

“I auditioned nine years ago in Dallas and made it to the Hollywood rounds,” Starritt said. “I’ve been here all night and my car, at one point, was the only car on the plaza.”

Over the years, Starritt has worked on his voice and stage presence.

He auditioned with Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” and made it through the next round.

“There’s an awesome camaraderie,” Starritt said of the audition process. “I meet new people and see how many other talented people there are out in the world. It’s a really cool experience.”

During the next two weeks, producers and crew will crisscross the country searching for singing talent.

The bus has stopped in New Mexico twice before since the show’s inception in 2002. In June 2015, auditions were held at the Railyard Park in Santa Fe. And in July 2014, Old Town hosted the event, and more than 2,000 people auditioned.

Brett McCosker, a producer on the show, is on the road for four weeks, living out of hotels.

He said what makes it worth it is being able to find undiscovered talent.

“How many other shows travel to find contestants?” McCosker asked. “I’m quite blessed to be a part of this huge audition tour across the country. I’m always coming back for the talent.”

As the hours passed, hopefuls looked for ways to entertain themselves: Some were glued to their smartphones, others chose to practice and warm up their voices.

Then there was Jordan Olguin. The 22-year-old Albuquerque native broke out his guitar and started playing George Michael’s “Faith.”

Before he knew it, there was a jam session going on with other guitarists and singers.

“I’ve always been an entertainer,” Olguin said. “This is my calling. To create something with other artists is magical.”

Olguin arrived at 6:45 a.m. and planned to audition with an original song or “Sherry” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

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Friends and family applaud as they watch the auditions for next season’s “American Idol” on Friday in Old Town. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)