American Idol Band Leader Rumor Plus Stage Redesign

Ray Chew American IdolLast season Rickey Minor quit American Idol for Jay Leno’s Tonight Show which left the upcoming 2011 season with an empty seat for its band leader. EW is reporting that Ray Chew, well-versed in the television music arena, will be taking over the role after a successful stint during the pre-Hollywood, Las Vegas competition rounds.

While a successful band leader blends transparently into the show, the musical support may end up being more out of sight then we’re used to having each season:

Whether audiences will get to see much of Chew and the Idol band this season, however, remains very much an open question. Idol exec producer Ken Warwick tells EW exclusively that a revamped set this season could relocate the Idol band off camera. “At the moment, the [upper] tier that was where the band was is now going to be audience,” says Warwick. “The plan is that the band will come out when required. There’s going to be a whole new kind of arena feel to the whole proceeding.”

The band will have to end up being somewhere, but just where that is hasn’t yet been revealed. Although I understand the desire to put the American Idol hopefuls front and center, it seems odd to effectively remove the band from the set and the experience. I’m interested to see how this all works out. So very many changes coming our way for this new season which starts in just two weeks!