The Farr Side: Far from ‘American Idol,' Matt Giraud stays busy

David T. Farr

For Matt Giraud, life after “American Idol” has been a “whirlwind.”

“It’s been great,” Giraud said during a recent phone interview. “Life is a little better, for sure. I was playing bars and stuff, doing the hustle and grind, and now, people will buy a ticket to come and see me play.”

Moments into the phone conversation, one thing became evident: Matt Giraud is an everyday guy.?But we know he can tickle the ivories better than most.

Giraud captured the hearts and hopes of many when he shone on Season 8 of “American Idol.” He made history being the first contestant the judges “saved” from elimination. He went on to make the coveted top five, a feat more than 120,000 had sought.

His role on “Idol” found the piano man a favorite among the judges, particularly Paula Abdul. He liked her, too.

“Paula was my favorite,” he said. “After it was all over she took us all (top 10) out to dinner in L.A. We ate at Eva Longoria’s restaurant.”

Abdul and Girard also shared a dance together, he boasted. While on the dance floor Abdul’s song “Straight Up” played.

“How many people can actually say they danced with Paula to ‘Straight Up’?” he said.

I admired you before, Giraud, but wow. How cool that must have been. You just might be my hero.

Giraud also made some lasting friendships with some of his fellow finalists, including Scott McIntyre and Danny Gokey.

“It’s very unlikely we’ll all be in the same place again,” Giraud said. “We sometimes do gigs together. Scott texts me and I go to Nashville to see Gokey.”

As for “Idol” today, I had to ask Giraud his thoughts about current judges  Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. We shared the same viewpoint. He was quite excited, at first, when the show began.

“The judges are OK, but they don’t offer enough criticism,” he said.?“They are at most, mediocre.”

“Steven Tyler is one of America’s greatest rockers,” he added.

Giraud thought Tyler should have been able to give some valuable input.

“I would rather they gave more constructive insight to help than all praise,” Giraud said. “In the real world, a lot (record execs) aren’t going to praise you as easily. It’s tough.”

Career moves

Giraud took his experience on “Idol” and channeled it into a blossoming career, earning attention for his determination and artistry the best way he knows how. Good thing, too, because we love him for it.

Composer and performer Jim Brickman took an interest in Giraud for a song on his latest album, “Home.” The single, “Thank You,” features Giraud on vocals.

“Thank You” was written by Victoria Shaw, who has written hit songs for artists such as Lady Antebellum. She saw fit to point Brickman to Giraud.

“(Brickman) called me up and asked if I wanted to do the song,” Giraud said, mentioning that a few others had already tried, but didn’t quite make the mark Brickman was hoping to achieve.

Giraud flew to Tennessee to meet with Brickman and record the track.

“I put my own spin on it,” Giraud said. “He loved it and put it on the album.”

“Thank You” is now in rotation on adult contemporary stations nationwide.

Home and road

Giraud still calls Kalamazoo, Mich., home. He recently got a new apartment in the downtown sector.

“I’ve been busy with that, getting furniture and stuff,” he said.

He’s busy in other ways, too. He has gigs lined up throughout the area this summer, including a show June 16 at the beautiful Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. He also is scheduled to perform Sept. 30 at Sturges-Young Auditorium in Sturgis. Tickets are available now.

“Every one of my shows I try to make special,” he said. “I do a lot of bluesy stuff and some new songs I’ve been working on.”

Giraud’s performances are special. He was the highlight of the “American Idol’s Live Tour” that season, making headlines for stealing the show.

I can vouch for that, having caught the tour at Van Andel Arena. He nearly tore the roof off, jammin’ on the piano.

*****

The Farr Side on Facebook is featuring a chance a to win autographed photos of Giraud, bracelets, and concert tickets for an upcoming show at Frederik Meijer Gardens. Select “like” to enter.

If you refer a friend and they “Like” the page and comment you sent them, you may receive additional entries.

Stay tuned for other great The Farr Side Facebook event giveaways all summer long.

David T. Farr is a Sturgis (Mich.) Journal correspondent. Email him at farrboy@hotmail.com. You may also find The Farr Side on Facebook.