A good friend encouraged Dan Overlock, a singer-songwriter from Guilford, to audition for the final season of "American Idol."
That friend? Season 14 winner Nick Fradiani.
On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the rest of world could find out whether Overlock will advance toward becoming the second "American Idol" contestant from Guilford to win the talent competition, now in its 15th and final season. The Philadelphia auditions, where Overlock tried out, will be broadcast on Fox beginning at 8 p.m., but not all of the auditions will be featured.
Fradiani's nudge happened during an episode of "The Dan Patrick Show," the syndicated sports-centric radio/television program produced by DirecTV Sports Networks, where Overlock works as an assistant producer.
After Fradiani's "Idol" victory, Overlock invited his friend for an on-air interview with Patrick. The two musicians jammed together. Patrick offered to give Overlock the day off if he'd give "Idol" a shot. Fradiani gave his blessing.
Overlock was skeptical. "I knew the show, but I'd never really thought about going on with that kind of format," he says. "I'm a different style of player. I'm a less poppier singer. And then, after Nick won, I thought, 'They're never going to have another kid from Guilford.' That would be crazy."
Sarah Barrios, 21, of Torrington, also went to Philadelphia, with mom/manager Trish -- her second attempt in as many years. "It was my first time in Philly," Barrios says. "It was just really cool to be there. We went bright and early."
Barrios plays solo shows throughout the state, mixing original songs and covers, and also collaborates with other artists; recently, she appeared in a video with duo Crash the Party, to perform Elle King's "Ex's and Oh's."
Last year, Barrios didn't even make it to the judges' table. This time, Barrios says, "I was nervous at first, but it hadn't really hit me until I walked in and saw the judges [Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban]. It was a very strange experience to see people you've seen on television. They were very pretty people."
Connecticut residents do well on contest-based music shows. Along with Fradiani, the state can brag about Katie Stevens of Middlebury, who finished eighth during Season 9 of "Idol,'' Stratford's Javier Colon, the 2011 winner on "The Voice," and Lyme teenager Braiden Sunshine, who made it to this year's "Voice" semifinals.
"I think Connecticut seriously has tons of talented and good-hearted people," Barrios says. "Everybody just supports each other, and everyone is just there for each other. That ideal helps push everybody to succeed."
In high school, Fradiani was the captain of Overlock's basketball team. "We didn't talk for a while in college, because you just go your separate ways in college," Overlock says.
After college, Overlock, Fradiani and a few friends moved into a house in Milford. They started a band called Beach Avenue, though Overlock didn't stay in the group for long.
For his "Idol" audition, Overlock looked for songs that would best showcase his voice. "It took me a while to figure it out," he says. "It can make or break you in the room, because you only get, like, a minute. If they don't like that song choice, you're out of luck."
When he got to Philly, Overlock felt old. "The cutoff is 28," he says. "I just made the cutoff. There were a lot of people who are a lot younger than me. I'm sitting there, like, 'Oh man, this is so weird.'"
Staying relaxed wasn't an issue. "I'm always light-hearted about stuff, especially music. Music is fun. If it's not fun, you shouldn't be doing it. I've always thought that. Especially with something like this, where you could make yourself crazy with how nervous you could be."
There's no guarantee that Overlock's audition will appear on Wednesday night's episode. "You really don't know," he says. "You go into it blindly. You have to watch and hope that yours makes it through so that everyone can watch."
On line at the auditions, Barrios chatted with other contestants. "I met a really young kid who played the guitar, and another guy dressed in drag," she says. "It was really interesting to see all the different kinds of people. Each person had something different to offer."
Barrios got word via email that she will appear, but she doesn't know how long she'll be seen. "I have no idea. They could feature me for five seconds or five minutes, whatever they want to show. I have a good feeling that they'll show quite a bit."
Whatever happens, Barrios says the exposure will help her career. "It's great to meet people in the industry," she says. "It's also a great promotional tool. Just to have a snippet of me singing a song will help spread my sound to people who don't know who I am. I'm really honored."
If Overlock doesn't advance: No big deal.
"I felt like, being an older person, having more experience and talking with some of the younger people, seeing how relaxed I was on the outside helped them a little bit, I hope," Overlock says. "I'm not sure about the next steps in the process, if I make it through or not. If I don't, obviously, I just go back to doing my job."