Adam Duritz, center, with Counting Crows.
Counting Crows, with front man Adam Duritz, center, in his current town, New York City.
“You owe your audience a really passionate concert every night, so I want to come out and play my a— off,” says Adam Duritz, front man for Counting Crows, a fixture in the alternative rock scene for almost 20 years. Counting Crows will soon play their first show in Charlottesville since the early '90s.
The band’s sixth and most recent studio album, Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) came out last spring, and is a cover album of some of Duritz and the gang’s favorite artists, many of them largely unknown.
“It’s a pretty eclectic mix,” Duritz tells a reporter. “It’s a good picture of our musical tastes, and the kind of band we are, without any regard to the commerce or business of making music. We got to make the album we wanted to make, which is a lot like what we've always done in our career.”
With three albums certified platinum, one gold, and at least 20 million sold, the Counting Crows have certainly shown that people want to buy what they’re selling: introspective, innovative writing with compelling melodies, roots instrumental flair, and a rock and roll edge.
Underwater Sunshine has received mixed reviews from critics, largely because of its nature as a cover album. But Duritz says the record is much more than just new arrangements of old songs.
“Quite honestly, cover albums can be like karaoke albums, so I can see why people dismiss then,” says Duritz. “But there’s nothing like that on this album.”
Duritz says that he and the band chose the songs on Underwater largely to showcase new material by independent and up-and-coming acts, including Kasey Anderson and the Honkies, a band that recently received rave reviews at South by Southwest. In fact, Duritz says one track on Underwater, “Hospital" by Coby Brown, is so new that Counting Crows recorded it even before Brown himself did.
But for those who just want to see the Crows perform their own material– including, presumably, the big hits like "Mr. Jones" and "Round Here"– Duritz says the band will play songs from all their records at the Pavilion show.
“I love our songs, I think they’re really important, and I wrote them because they mattered to me,” says Duritz, adding “whenever I play one of our older songs, I find a different way into it and out of it. I look for a way to express who I am today.”
Opening the Pavilion will be Tender Mercies, a country gospel group that includes the Crows' own Dan Vickrey and Jim Bogios. Also performing: Mean Creek, a Boston-based indie rock quartet that Duritz has sponsored before in several “Outlaw Roadshow” showcases of new talent.
“It’s like watching the rebirth of The Pixies,” Duritz says of Mean Creek, “Their new album is just a stunner. I’m floored by them.”