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Van Alston picks up "American Idol"

Along with the ongoing Scott McCreery watch, Wednesday night's "American Idol" show featured a little extra Triangle content when contestant Paul McDonald butchered performed "Come Pick Me Up" -- a song co-written by Ryan Adams and Van Alston, proprietor of Slim's and other bars and restaurants around Raleigh. A barfly anthem for the ages, "Come Pick Me Up" originally appeared on Adams' 2000 album "Heartbreaker," and it has come to be one of Adams' most enduring signature songs over the last decade.

"'Come Pick Me Up' was one I helped edit more than write," Alston said on Thursday. "It was so long ago, I can't even remember exactly what I did on it. I may have added a word or a line here and there. But my part was more editing, helping Ryan put everything in the proper sequence."

Adams' "Heartbreaker" original had some blue language, which McDonald edited down to a for-television PG version that didn't make much sense. He looked awkward onstage, too, skipping about as he sang. Still, the judges were surprisingly positive, even though Jennifer Lopez said she had no idea who Adams was. But Randy Jackson professed to be a big fan of Whiskeytown, Adams' 1990s-vintage Raleigh band.

As for Alston, he has a publishing co-credit for "Come Pick Me Up," which means he gets paid when the song is performed. Television can add up to big bucks, which should make for a nice sum on his next check from BMI. McDonald has also recorded a studio version of "Come Pick Me Up" for iTunes release, but how that does might be determined by how long he lasts in the compeition. McDonald and the other contestants will learn their fate at Thursday night's results show (and is already championing him).

"I can tell you I'm pleased and honored that someone selected a song I had something to do with writing," Alston said. "And I voted for him. Heck, yeah."

ADDENDUM: Thursday night's results show is in the books, and McCreery and McDonald both made it through to next week.

Celebrity sightings: Robert Plant

Most big touring acts that play the Triangle don't stick around for long, usually leaving either as soon as the performance is over or the next day. But Robert Plant spent another day in Raleigh after his Wednesday night show.

There were reports of a sighting at Poole's Diner, and rumors went around town that Plant was going to put in an onstage appearance Thursday night at Slim's. While that didn't happen, he and singer Patty Griffin took a shopping trip to Schoolkids Records, where Plant reportedly bought a compilation of African music and also did a bit of representin'.

"He came in around 6:00 and there were only a few people in here," said Schoolkids employee Kyle Rosko, who took this picture. "One of them left but then came back in and said, 'I've gotta go shake his hand.' But nobody was really bothering them. In fact, a group of three teenagers came in and didn't recognize him."


(Thanks to Robert W.)

Raleigh, represent!

You can take the rock star out of Raleigh but not Raleigh out of the rock star, and here we have proof: That's old Raleigh hand Robert Kearns onstage at Walnut Creek Friday night, rocking some Raleigh nightspot apparel.

The former Cry of Love/Sidewinder/Bottle Rockets bassist was playing with Lynyrd Skynyrd, which he joined earlier this year to replace the ailing Ean Evans (who died of cancer in May), on the Skynyrd/Kid Rock bill. Mindful of the promotional opportunities, Slim's Downtown Distillery proprietor Van Alston hooked Kearns up with a T-shirt -- and there it is.

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