Casey James Will Have A 'Big Career' After 'American Idol,' Pal Says

But Danny Ross hasn't written off James' finale chances yet: 'You can't underestimate the women of America.'

It's a bit late in the season for the usual conspiracy theories to arise, but there's something about the way the "American Idol" finale is shaping up that has given Casey James' supporters pause.

"I don't know, I think there's something prejudicial going on, where it just seems like they're stacking the deck against him," said Danny Ross, owner of the Fort Worth blues club Keys Lounge, where the top-three "Idol" finisher has jammed on and off for the past two years. On Wednesday afternoon (May 19), Ross said he thought James did well on Tuesday night's show, but he just couldn't shake the feeling that the show's producers were trying to steer America toward a Lee DeWyze/ Crystal Bowersox showdown.

"The John Mayer song ['Daughters'] was not as dynamic as [Bowersox's] 'Maybe I'm Amazed' or [DeWyze's] 'Hallelujah,' but, gosh, I've played with Casey, and I know talent when I see it, and Casey is one of the only guys I sit in with at the club," he said. "I didn't see any signs for Casey in the audience and not many for Crystal but a lot for Lee. Casey came in here last week and did a set like nothing had changed, and I had people say that if he played like that on TV, it wouldn't be any competition."

Ross has been in the business a long time and considers himself a good judge of talent, and he said he thinks DeWyze is a good singer and Bowersox has "a hell of a voice," but neither can front a band the way James can or rip off the kinds of bluesy guitar solos he's seen Casey play in his club.

So while he sees an uphill climb for his protégé, Ross said the ladies appear to have gotten behind the Casey train since the singer almost got booted several weeks ago, and "you can't underestimate the women of America." With calls already coming in from all over the country from promoters looking to book James into lucrative club gigs, Ross said Casey will be fine either way. "I think in the long run, he'll have a big career," he said. "He could be the next John Mayer, if he wanted to go that way."

James seems to think so as well. After Tuesday night's show, the singer appeared to hint to the Los Angeles Times that he was resigned to his fate as this season's #3 finisher. Asked if he were relieved that his "Idol" ride was almost over, James said, "I'm ready to start playing music ... like full songs with guitar solos and no judges ... not having to cut a song in a minute and a half. ... So, yes!"

Do you think the deck is stacked against Casey on "Idol"? Let us know in the comments!

Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.