Fans gather in Manassas restaurants to support local Idol

KC’s in Manassas holds 261 people, and about that many were there supporting neighbor Travis Tucker last night on “American Idol.”

It was a big performance for Tucker, 21, an Osbourn Park 2001 graduate. This routine will determine whether he makes it to the finals, cutting by half the original 24 semifinalists.

“Nerves are definitely hitting me hard this time,” Tucker said moments after singing “Every Little Step” by Bobby Brown. “Going from 16 to 12 is a big step, you know. America, help me out.”

Tucker may get the help he needs.

He’s been singled out at every live results show, led on to think he’s going home.

“Every time they put me in those positions I’d like to think American is sympathizing with me,” he said Thursday before rehearsals. He hopes it’s a connection that will win the hearts of viewers, and a few extra votes.

The Official Travis Tucker Fan Club formed over the last few weeks with the same agenda.

“People from Manassas can help him win,” said Abdul Azeez, 23, a friend of Tucker’s older brother.

Azeez organized the fan club and party at KC’s. They sold about 20 T-shirts with Tucker’s likeness, making about $300 to help purchase a domain name for a Web site and hold future parties.

The Manassas Business Council organized viewing parties at O’Meara’s Restaurant & Pub, Jake’s Restaurant, The City Tavern and Okra’s Louisiana Bistro. In Woodbridge, Tucker’s parents, Jeannette and Alton, watched the show with church friends at Brittany’s Restaurant & Sports Bar.

People stood on chairs and cranked their necks to see the projection screen as Tucker sang. They weren’t pleased with comments by judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson.

After Tucker’s performance, in which he danced and even beat boxed during a break in lyrics, Jackson said he was out of pitch. Cowell told him Tucker his performance was “appalling.”

“It was as good or bad as you would get in a theme park,” he said.

Paula Abdul disagreed.

“I think you’re pretty special, Travis,” she said. “You’re unique to this competition and that’s important.”

Tucker’s supporters sided with Abdul, and say Tucker’s stage presences will carry him through.

“I’m confident right now,” said Tucker’s brother Jared, 23. “I’m sure when Wednesday comes around I’ll be nervous.”

Lou Turner, 49, of Manassas had a few harsh words to say to Cowell, but only positive reinforcement for Tucker.

“I don’t think it will hurt him at all,” she said of Cowell’s comments.

Karly Oristian, 10, whose parents own KC’s, skipped her homework to watch Tucker. She and her friend Stephanie Woods, 11, stood on chairs to cheer on Tucker.

“His voice is so rich and so nice and that’s the kind of voice I like,” she said.

Cell phones were in just about every hand when voting started at 9 p.m. On Wednesday the results will be broadcast live at 9 p.m. on FOX.

Staff writer Emily Brown can be reached at (703) 878-4650.