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Counting Crows: August and Everything After Live At Town Hall review

Diehard Counting Crows fans may already have bootleg video of Adam Duritz’s band via the torrent website CrowsTown.  If not, August and Everything After Live At Town Hall comes in dvd and Blu-ray formats (their first official live concert video), as well as a cd.  The album is a track by track recap of their 1993 album August and Everything After, which catapulted the band into fame.

Recorded at Town Hall in New York City in 2007, the album is full of the conversational interludes and improvisations Duritz is famous for in live performance.  Duritz has been through the mill.  His rapid rise to fame brought him to the edge of sanity, and he has suffered repeated nervous breakdowns, and struggled with prescription drug addiction.  A sensitive soul, he seems to use the stage as a way to process his manifold trials as an artist in the spotlight, and the audience responds wildly to his honest approach.

Founded in Berkeley, CA in 1991, Counting Crows were almost immediately signed by Geffen.  Their Bay Area roots still manifest today.  Camper Van Beethoven’s guitarist David Immergluck, who began his desultory relationship with Counting Crows in 1999, plays on the record.  In case you haven’t heard of them, Camper Van Beethoven were one of the best bands of the nineties.  I recently heard a cover of one of their songs at The Knockout in San Francisco, although the singer apparently didn’t know who had written it.  There is some reference to San Francisco on the record, but it is more a sweeping view of America.  “Round Here,” which combines “Raining in Baltimore” and “Private Archipelago,” “Omaha,” and references to the metaphorical “Perfect Blue Buildings” furnish Duritz with a landscape that is at once intimate and impressionistic.

Twenty years and 20 million records later, Counting Crows continue to be successful.  They have prodigiously recorded new material as well as a wide array of covers, including songs by Oasis, Otis Redding and Wilco.  The current release has a deluxe addition which includes a number of bonus tracks, including Woodie Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” and a live recording in Elysee, Montmartre.

By Jon Bennett

Jon Bennett is a musician and writer living in San Francisco.

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