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American Idol? He's just Sam

"American Idol" Live! will arrive Saturday in Fort Lauderdale. While some people may argue that contractually corralling contestants from the Fox singing competition months after the most recent season ended is a money grab, Sam Woolf is not one of them.

"It's a lot easier than what we went through on the show," says Woolf, who came in fifth place on the most recent season of "American Idol," the show's 13th. "I thought it would be a lot harder experience, compared to the show. But it's easier, because we don't have to worry about being judged or messing up. It's not on TV."

The show's producers cast the 18-year-old from Bradenton as a teen heartthrob, and that has spilled over to the tour, with one fan on opening night wearing a T-shirt reading, "Mrs. Sam Woolf."

"I felt like they kind of put me under a different category, the heartthrob, and that's not really me," Woolf says. "I mean, it happens. But I'm doing my own thing now."

Woolf considers himself to be a singer-songwriter in the vein of John Mayer and Ed Sheeran.

"The more you write, the better you get by writing, I'm just trying to write as much as I can. I'm excited to share [my songs]," he says. "I [plan] after the tour to put my own stuff out and make a record, even if I screw it up."

The 41-show tour began June 24 in Binghamton, N.Y., and will end Aug. 23 in Redmond, Wash. This has been Florida week, with the tour stopping in Sarasota on Thursday, Clearwater on Friday, Fort Lauderdale on Saturday and St. Augustine on Sunday.

Woolf was born in Michigan, but at 9 years old moved with his mother to North Port, in Sarasota County, after his parents divorced. He moved into his grandparents' Bradenton home at the start of his junior year in high school.

"I have friends all over, so it will be nice to see those faces, too," he says of the tour's Florida swing. "Although this whole thing has been just great."

"American Idol" Live! will begin 8 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $50.50 to $145.50. Call 954-462-0222 or go to

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