The last time Crystal Bowersox appeared on stage near her hometown, she was singing to empty bar stools and playing for tips.

Those days are over. Thousands of fans lined downtown streets Friday and squeezed onto rooftops and parking garages to get a glimpse of the bluesy, dreadlocked singer whose cool stage presence has made her one of three finalists on "American Idol."

Even the normally unflappable Bowersox seemed taken aback by the crowd gathered to her hear sing.