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Counting Crows, Rob Thomas are having a "love fest" on tour this summer
Rob Thomas calls his summer tour with Counting Crows "a love fest."
And unlike some other concert bills where the acts aren't closely connected, this outing is a bona fide reunion of old friends.
By Thomas' recollection, they met during the mid-90s in Orlando, Fla., when Thomas and the other members of Matchbox Twenty were known as Tabitha's Secret. Thomas was particularly intrigued by Crows' frontman and chief songwriter Adam Duritz, who at the time was having the kind of success Thomas and his group craved.
"I just met him like a fan meets somebody in a band," Thomas, 44, recalls from a tour stop in Maine. He and Duritz met again a couple of years later, a chance run-in after Matchbox Twenty signed its own deal and was looking for a publishing contract, and Thomas sought some advice.
"I was outside this bar and he kind of grabbed me and brought me in and we hung out and drank for awhile," Thomas says. "He just impressed me. And then over the next 20 years we kept that up. I was just in Italy and he had just finished a tour, so he extended his stay there just so we could hang out."
Duritz, meanwhile, recalls the same thing happening before, when Matchbox Twenty was in Italy shortly before Counting Crows were due to start their own tour. "I went out a few weeks early to hang out with them in Italy so Rob and I could run around Milan and get drunk," Duritz, 52, remembers by phone from New York, where he now resides. So it's not surprising that the prospect of spending a big chunk of summer together was appealing to both singers.
"It just seemed like a fun way to spend the summer," Duritz says. "I hadn't seen him in a long time, but he came over and we were going to film, like, a tour ad on our iPhones and it was just like all the time had passed and it was yesterday that we were last together."
The trek certainly gives the two time to discuss their craft, and there's certainly mutual admiration to be shared. "He's a great songwriter," Duritz says of Thomas. "He writes great, hooky songs -- I mean REALLY hook songs. And I like the stuff he did with Santana, too (the Grammy award-winning 'Smooth'). I'm a little jealous of that one, to be honest."
The tour catches both Counting Crows and Thomas between projects, though Thomas is ostensibly still touring to support his third solo album, 2015's "The Great Unknown." But he promises there will be plenty of older material, too, especially since it's 20 years since Matchbox Twenty's hit-laden, 12-times platinum debut "Yourself Or Someone Like You."
"Obviously you want people to listen to what you're doing that's new, but I think that every time I go on tour I'm just kind of promoting the last 20 years of my life," Thomas says. "I just like to go out and play music, so it's always a little bit of everything. At this point I'm promoting me and Matchbox and just my songwriting in general."
Counting Crows, meanwhile, have started working on a new album to follow up 2014's "Somewhere Under Wonderland." Duritz has convened with bandmates David Immergluck, Dan Vickrey and Millard Powers for some woodshedding, with plans to hunker down again when the group wraps up touring in late summer.
"We got a start," Duritz reports. "I don't have any real songs or lyrics or anything yet. I had a bunch of melodies and ideas and chord patterns and different things they helped me translate out, and we worked on them for awhile.
"But I don't really worry too much; I guess over the years I've just kind of realized that the albums always come. I'm not (prolific) like Ryan Adams or anything, but they always seem to come."
Counting Crows, Rob Thomas and K Phillips
6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23.
DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.
Tickets are $40.50-$80.50 pavilion, $26 lawn with a $78 lawn four-pack.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.
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