Before there was Sam Woolf there was Phillip Phillips.
Phillips was the likeable, soft-spoken impossible-to-dislike reluctant heartthrob of the 11th season of "American Idol." It was pretty much the same role that Bradenton's Woolf filled in the most recent season.
Woolf finished fifth, and his post-"Idol" career is just getting started.
Phillips, who won his season with a record number of votes, is already a star playing major concert halls around the country.
"It was a great experience," Phillips said of his "American Idol" run during a phone interview from a tour stop in Montana.
Phillips fans can see him in concert Wednesday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota.
He's touring behind his second album, "Behind the Light," which was released in March of this year.
"Live, it really comes to life," he said of the second album. "It translates even better than the first album live, I think."
The newer album has more of a rock sound than the first, he said, and that's a better indication of the kind of musician he wants to be.
But the concert won't leave fans of his first album, 2012's platinum-selling "The Earth From the Side of the Moon," feeling neglected, Phillips said.
"It's a mix of the new album and the old album," he said. "We also might do a jam here and there. We might do a cover or two."
He performs with a five-piece backing band, and adds a sixth instrument when his cellist is available.
"We get the crowd to have a good time," he said. "They pay to come to the show and we make sure they get their money's worth."
Phillips is probably best known for his first single "Home," a huge hit that he introduced as his "coronation song" on "American idol."
The song is perhaps even more famous than Phillips himself. It was used in NBC'S coverage of the Olympics, and has been part of commercials, movies and TV shows. He also performed it at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2012.
After his "Idol" run, Phillips toured with Matchbox 20 and, later, with John Mayer before he started headlining his own tours.
He's been on the road pretty steadily for the past couple of years, and he said he's looking forward to a rare couple of days relaxing with his family in Albany, Ga. over Thanksgiving.
He said he doesn't keep in touch with his "American Idol" castmates, except for an occasional tweet or text message.
And he didn't know much about Bradenton's Woolf, even though Phillips performed with him and other top contestants on the finale of this year's "America Idol."
"They were all really nice," he said. "But I don't have too much time to sit around and watch TV these days."
Details: 8 p.m. Nov. 12, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $50-$64.50. Information: 941-953-3368, vanwezel.org.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.