February 20. 2014 10:23AM

UPDATE: Mont Vernon man chosen as ‘American Idol’ top 20 contestant

Union Leader Correspondent

MONT VERNON — New Hampshire’s favorite “American Idol” contestant seems to be wowing the judges, as the self-proclaimed band geek advanced Wednesday to the top 20 contestants.Although five male contestants said goodbye on Wednesday, Alex Preston of Mont Vernon was selected to move forward in the competition and perform live for America.Preston, 20, sang “Volcano” by Damien Rice, which was described by judge Keith Urban as “probably the best song choice of the night.”“You stayed in the groove … just a really good performance,” Urban told Preston after his live performance.Another judge, Jennifer Lopez, also had praise for Preston — who has now secured a coveted spot in the show’s top 10 male vocalists.“You are really in your own lane,” she said, describing Preston as a different artist who brings something unique to the show. “I think that if you stay there, you can really go far.”Prior to his performance, Preston acknowledged that he is a band geek and sometimes awkward, telling former judge Randy Jackson that he plays nearly a dozen instruments.“I am a really shy person,” admitted Preston, who worked with the coaches on making eye contact and trying to connect with the audience while still using his guitar.As far as his song choice, Preston said he likes Rice’s style and his type of musical vibe.“I get the sense that music is a religion to you,” said judge Harry Connick Jr., adding Preston seems to eat, sleep and breathe music.Preston, whose full name is Alex Preston Philbrick, is on temporary leave from the University of New Hampshire while he pursues his music career and continues on the show.He is a 2011 graduate of Souhegan High School and a former member of the local band Undertow.