By christina fuoco-karasinski

GETOUT Editor

“American Idol” Season 8 winner Kris Allen is appearing as the special guest on this summer’s American Idol: Live! Tour, which comes to Mesa Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 24.

He’ll join the top seven contestants from this season’s show.

Allen said he would have loved to have had a former contestant on his tour to guide him through the hectic jaunt. He hesitates when asked who.

“I think Kelly Clarkson would have been a lot of fun, as someone who’s been through it,” Allen said. “Someone I’ve gotten to know a little the past nine years is David Cook. He’s been doing his thing since the show. That would have been really good. I would have enjoyed his wisdom.”

American Idol: Live! features Gabby Barrett, Cade Foehner, Jurnee, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Maddie Poppe, Michael J. Woodard and Catie Turner.

Poppe, this season’s winner, hadn’t gigged outside Iowa before her stint on the show.

“Getting to play outside Iowa has been really cool,” Poppe said. “It’s fun to see the faces behind the TV show, the people who voted. It’s such a good feeling, but it’s hard to wrap my head around it.”

Poppe acknowledged that it’s tough to be away from her family, but she befriended competitors Turner and while on the show. Things turned romantic between Poppe and Hutchinson.

“I think having them there made it a little bit easier,” she said. “Now that I’ve won the show and most of the contestants have gone home, it’s a bit harder.”

She’s looking forward to touring with her castmates and Allen.

“I know he’s a singer-songwriter like me,” Poppe said. “I’m really excited to meet him and see what he’s like.”

Allen said that he was a little concerned about joining this tour.

“I didn’t think I was older than them, but then I watched the show,” he said with a laugh. “I’m going to be the oldest, which is incredibly weird. I’ll be the older guy and mentoring these younger kids who are just starting out in the business.

“I know I’ll be inspired by them, their fire and newness. I’m excited about that.”