Travelin’ man Kohlton Pascal lights up my ‘American Idol’ season

The guy walking the railroad tracks as I watched “American Idol” tonight looked familiar.

The long hair, the acoustic guitar, the face.

It hit me before I heard the distinctive singing voice or saw the name flash on the screen. This season of the singing competition on FOX has just gotten way more interesting.

Kohlton Pascal of Aiburn, N.Y., sings on "American Idol."

Kohlton Pascal of Aiburn, N.Y., sings on “American Idol.”

To think I had almost fast-forwarded through this whole final audition Wednesday night of week two, asleep at the remote. I would have missed Kohlton Pascal, the gritty voiced blues singer from Auburn, N.Y., the free-spirited nephew of noted Central New York singer-songwriter Dusty Pascal, the talent who had convinced me when he was a teen to bring him in to sing his original song “A Little Bit” for my Music Notes Performance video series during my last month as the music writer for the big daily in January 2013.

Under the TV lights, Pascal let loose all the dirt road grit in that voice that seems way beyond his years, and you could see the crackle of attraction flicker in the eyes of judges Harry Connick Jr., Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez. They liked him. Connick wisely warned him that he’ll surely have to rein in his distinctive blues voice to fit the paramaters of the competition, and Kohlton shook his head in acknowledgement. All three judges voted yes.

They’d felt what hit me when he came to visit the white studio in 2013. Even then, his raw and unique talent filled the room. Kohlton Pascal has a presence about him. He’s one of those people who makes you look directly at him and think about the words coming out of his mouth.

Among what he said to me that day almost exactly two years ago: “This is my moon or bust.”

The singer from Central New York listens to the judges in Kansas City.

The singer from Central New York listens to the judges in Kansas City.

Pascal got his golden ticket. He’s going to Hollywood. The Traveling Man, whose back story of wandering the country with a tarp for shelter and his guitar case to earn his daily bread in a quest to ward off his depression was just shared with the nation, will get the chance to advance even further into the hearts and minds of music fans.


Of course, I remember that last year, Kaitlyn Jackson, the teen from Norwich, N.Y., got her golden ticket, and then advanced through several rounds in Holllywood but was never shown again by the FOX cameras before she was eliminated before the finals.

Interesting show, this.

I will be watching and writing with way more interest while Kohlton Pascal is around.

Here’s the YouTube clip of Pascal’s performance on ‘American Idol” in Kansas City.

Have you been able to pick out a favorite in the early going so far this “American Idol” season? Did you like the way this season started with the darkened clip of this season’s Top 24 performing? What’s your favorite TV singing show?

60 thoughts on “Travelin’ man Kohlton Pascal lights up my ‘American Idol’ season

  1. ‘Under the TV lights’ (Under the Blue TV screen lights…) Did you steal that line from Joni, Mark??
    On the back of a cartoon coaster
    “In the blue TV screen light
    I drew a map of Canada”

    Dear Mark,
    I swerved into an article you recently wrote (yes, I know: I mentioned this already), but then it hit me: I KNOW this guy!
    I call him ‘My Friend’
    I hope he calls me same same.

    “Just before our love got lost you said
    I am as constant as a northern star
    And I said, constantly in the darkness
    Wheres that at?
    If you want me Ill be in the bar”


  2. I was a big fan of AI for 7 seasons…. 2 through 8… when Adam Lambert didn’t win that was the last season for me… I was tired of it. BTW, I voted about a million times for Taylor HIcks on Season 5, I thought he was a breath of fresh air and I see he is still going strong.. in Vegas no less. As for Adam, when I first heard him sing a Queen song, I thought he was amazing. I think Freddie Mercury would be happy! I am generally not enamored with TV competitions although I have enjoyed watching a few episodes of the Great British Baking Show which is weird as I don’t bake and don’t eat bakery goods… but it is “jolly good” fun!


  3. Wow, I’m really going to be unpopular with my answer here, Mark. I really don’t like AI, or any singing shows, though I did watch it for about a season and a half to see what all the buzz was about. (And I also watch and record it whenever Bon Jovi guest stars.) First of all, I don’t like reality TV, so that’s just a given. But also, I know so many talented musicians who had to go through so much to get to where they are, that I don’t think winning a popularity contest is a fair road to get to the top. That being said, one of my favorite artists is Chris Daughtry, who as you know was an AI 4th place contestant. So, that probably makes me a bit of a hypocrite. πŸ˜‰


  4. I haven’t watched AM in years. I would watch it again to hear him. He’s fabulous and haunting – seems like there’s even more waiting to surface. My favorite was what he was singing in the background during his interview. Amazing!
    I knew you’d have something good for me this week…sorry it took so long to get over here πŸ™‚


    • Don’t ever apologize for living your busy life, Michelle. Puh-leeze, my friend.

      Kohlton is really unique and different and perhaps too much of each for “American Idol.” That may make for more good camera time. I hope he gets some.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That is a very distinctive voice Mark. It too me a minute of listening to catch his rythym. It will be interesting to see how his future unfolds. I don’t follow the singing shows much any more. Thanks so much for bringng this to our attention.


  6. I’ve only seen clips of Idol over the years. I liked both this clip and his older one from your other post. Like someone else said, I don’t know why he would have to change to his sound. I think he should be judged on ‘his’ sound and let it be included. I’d like to see how he does. Just from the short bio he shared I worry ‘for’ him that adjusting from living the way he has chosen to live, to living in this competition may be a huge adjustment for him. I wish him well!


  7. I watch this show (avidly) and am remembering your photo of the blonde singer, Kaitlyn with the pretty appearance and lovely sounding voice. I am sure that Kohlton will make it along with a few I have my eyes on! There are many talented singers and I cannot believe how fantastic it is to actually know someone who knows someone on the show! Kohlton’s cousin, Dusty, I remember that Little Bit song! Thanks, Mark for letting me know someone to keep my eyes on!


  8. I almost passed over his audition as well, till I heard the name and city. I went to school with some Pascal’s, wondering if theres a relation. Small world! But very cool to see a local make it so far.


    • It is cool to see Central New York represented. We’ll have to look hard at the New York City auditions as well. Thanks for stopping by and commenting in our small world, bikerchick84. Maybe Kohlton is of the Pascals you went to school with.


  9. You know my opinion on Idol, but I read your insight on the show. There will be a rude awakenings: CNY probably will bid farewell to this native during the show, but who knows when. Another awakening that Seacrest is a bit of a d-bag, and as much as he thinks he knows about music and entertainment, he does not; he promotes wannabe pop stars that will disappear as quickly as a raindrop’s evaporating.

    I’m not saying that CNY will not see Pascal progress to the end to be negative — if he does win, the cloud that is covering our pop-culture-delusional teens and adults is dissipating — because the U.S. is not used to this. What Urban said is the painful truth: that Pascal does not physically have the appearance. Urban’s exception is the kid’s voice.

    If I heard Pascal on Pandora or another music outlet, I’d buy his stuff in a heartbeat. He can write lyrics, he has passion and pursued it, and his voice is the kicker. I’m actually writing a piece that includes Dinosaur Barbeque and mentioning Howlin’ Wolf, but his voice is so distinctive and defining as many of those blues musicians. This young Pascal is what music is all about, and his exposure is what is needed (for the sake of Idol). He’s too good to be categorized with the rest of the forgotten and fallen “winners” of Idol. I wish him well in his tenure on the show and a hopeful career to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughtful addition to this string on our local singer and his “Idol” appearance, Chris. I’m loathe to paint any of the contestants past with with must one brush. In general, yes, “American Idol” pushes them all toward pop with the themes chosen for the performances. But I’ve surely seen some talented young people come through who were wishing to sing and more built for less mainstream choices. Kohlton already has his own songbook ready. There are past winners of the show like that by choice. David Cook writes his own quirkier songs still and was never from the more mainstream “AI” mold.

      The bottom line is, we shall see if the individuality of Kohlton Pascal is accepted by the judges in Hollywood. That’s the next step.


  10. he looks like he will be a force to be reckoned with and cool you have that connection. unfortunately, i have not had the chance to see any of this season, so i’ve decided to experience it through your blog )


  11. Lord, he was born a rambling man. If I were his mom, I’d be scared to death for him. Thinking of him under a tarp, lonely, hungry, at the mercy of anyone who wants to harm him. 😦 He sounds like an angry, wounded wolf. Like an old black man, singing the blues. Offputting for a young white man to sing because it somehow seems inauthentic, even though he is clearly not living a privileged life. Although he could choose that, if he wanted, which others can’t. I don’t know. It’s good to see different, but will he be willing to sing with groups? To sing pop and country and do Michael Jackson week and Beatles week and learn choreography? You have to be true to yourself, but like Connick said, willing to get out of your comfort zone.


    • Yes, he’s a lone wolf, and very different, and I would worry about his traveling and state of heath, too, Kerbey. On the flip side, his unique mind is a breath of fresh air. Jow long that will hold up in this particular environment, is the swing question, you are correct.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. ‘lose the bluesy voice’ this is why i no longer really watch this show or similar ones because it is all about the parameters. I thought it was about all kinds of singing……not rubbisshy pop…that ep is tmrw nite here in aus. so i will watch that one for you mark.


  13. How awesome – I don’t watch these shows, because I feel like they’ve become a vehicle for the star judges, but I may have to tune in to see this talented young man. The back story of your connection to him makes it all the more special. He’s a talented guy – and I hope he goes far!


    • We shall see, Mimi. You’re right about the celebrity judges receiving much of the focus. On this show, I am content that at last they’ve landed on a trio that appears to like each other while they are on TV together. That’s an improvement.


  14. Always gotta root for the hometown boy (or girl) πŸ™‚ I haven’t been watching this season, but may have to check it out now πŸ™‚ Thanks Diana for posting the video!


  15. Aww love this Mark! I’m a champion for the underdog, not that Kholton will need a champion – I’m thinking his talent will take him places.

    Hey I hope you don’t mind, but I thought you and your readers might enjoy this youtube…you know in case there are some who aren’t watching the show, like me.

    Thanks for bringing Kholton to my attention. ❀
    Diana xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Diana. I added the clip above, too, before I saw that you had here. I was having problems switching from the mobile to the desktop version last night so I could grab the embed code … Anyway, thanks as always, my friend. Let’s see how far he can advance with his definitely non-pop style.


      • oops I hadn’t notice that Mark. How redundant of me! His voice is haunting. He’s such a free spirit as if transported from the 60s!

        Regardless of how far he advances I hope being on the show will give him the recognition he needs to make a career for himself. ❀


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