Jason Castro -- the original dark horse contestant on "American Idol" who finished fourth in 2008 -- is hitting the road for a national mall tour in support of his self-titled debut. The Texas singer-songwriter's trek begins Oct. 12 in Minneapolis, Minn. before wrapping Nov. 15 in Ontario, Calif.
"I can't wait to get out and play the new stuff," Castro tells Billboard.com. "I'm itching for it."
In a scheduling move that could potentially put his fans' loyalties to the test, Castro's album is due on Atlantic Records Nov. 17, the same day that this year's "Idol" winner, Kris Allen, will release his own self-titled debut. But Castro says he's not worried about the competition.
"I see it as an opportunity. We're all living the dream, so I'm not really concerned about when whose album comes out -- I'm just gonna get out there, that's all I want to do."
In fact, the dreadlocked singer is proud of being the first contestant to ever play an instrument on "Idol," paving the way for a low-key artist like Allen to win the title a year later -- perhaps to the chagrin of "Idol" judge Simon Cowell. "I think it would have happened either way," he says. "It's started as a singing competition, but it's slowly morphed. Maybe I was one of the catalysts, but I just happened to be that guy who walked in with a guitar."
When asked which 2009 "Idol" finalist's album he is most looking forward to hearing, Castro says, "I'm really excited for everybody, but I can't wait to get Allison's record," he says, referring to Allison Iraheta, who like him, finished fourth in the show's eighth season.
Castro inked a record deal with Atlantic Records in April, marking the first time the label has signed an "Idol" finalist. His first single, "Let's Just Fall in Love Again," entered Billboard's Heatseekers Songs chart at No. 15 and Hot Digital Songs at No. 57, and his album will feature production and songwriting contributions from Evan Rosse, John Fields and Kara DioGuardi.
Castro's tour will be supported by the interactive music network Akoo, which will allow fans to request the music video for "Let's Just Fall in Love Again," as well as exclusive video footage of the singer, via text-message at its mall locations.
Here are the dates for Jason Castro's tour:
Oct. 12: Minneapolis, Minn. (Southdale Center)
Oct. 13: Chicago, Ill. (Gurnee Mills Mall)
Oct 15: Cleveland, Oh. (Great Lakes Mall)
Oct. 18: White Plains, N.Y. (Galleria at White Plains)
Oct. 19: Freehold, N.J. (Freehold Raceway Mall)
Oct. 20: Washington, D.C. (Potomac Mills Mall)
Oct. 23: Atlanta, Ga. (Discover Mills Mall)
Oct. 27: Orlando, Fla. (Paddock Mall)
Oct. 28: Tampa, Fla. (Gulf View Square Mall)
Oct. 29: Miami, Fla. (Sawgrass Mills Mall)
Nov. 3: Houston, Tex. (Katy Mills Mall)
Nov. 4: Dallas, Tex. (Grapevine Mills Mall)
Nov. 12: Denver, Col. (Colorado Mills Mall)
Nov. 15: Ontario, Calif. (Ontario Mills Mall)