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Eat your heart out, 'Mr. Jones'

Counting Crows, who voiced admiration for Bob Dylan in 1993 hit, will share OC Fair stage with band fronted by songwriter's son.

July 17, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • The Counting Crows will perform at the OC Fair on Sunday.
The Counting Crows will perform at the OC Fair on Sunday. (Handout )

Adam Duritz wants to be Bob Dylan — or so he says in "Mr. Jones."

Maybe the Counting Crows frontman didn't transform into the senior Dylan. But he did form a close friendship with the iconic songwriter's son, Jakob, leader of the Wallflowers.

Not only did Duritz suggest selecting T-Bone Burnett as the Wallflowers' producer, but he also collaborated with the band on "6th Avenue Heartache" from its debut album, "Bringing Down the Horse."

"I was probably [in the studio] for a total of half an hour. I walked in, sang it, walked out," Duritz recalled.

That relationship led to a professional alliance. Counting Crows will take the stage at the Pacific Amphitheatre on Sunday as part of the OC Fair's Toyota Summer Concert Series. The Wallflowers kick off the performance at 7 p.m. This is the first time since 2001 that the bands have toured together.

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The pairing resonated with Dan Gaines, the fair's entertainment director, who said the show is almost sold out.

"The choice of Counting Crows and the Wallflowers was really a choice that was made because we felt it really hit our demographic," he said.

Though linked, the bands took divergent paths to the top — one a product of rock royalty, the other emerging from obscurity.

Duritz, who was born in Baltimore, wrote his first songs in his bedroom as a child trying to understand his feelings and the world around him, and that approach stuck. His band, which originated in 1991, ascended two years later with the release of the "August and Everything After" album.

Duritz, now 48, continues to regard creativity as "its own reward and path" and frowns on "diluting it with other stuff" — stuff being a focus on hits, money, sales or the possibility of failure.

As a result, he doesn't spend time under the limelight thinking about the audience. His mind is focused on his band and its onstage dynamic. The seven-piece ensemble has no qualms about going off on a tangent mid-performance — rhythms and chord patterns are fair play — which demands a high level of cognizance.

"We are really not playing some song we learned 20 years ago," Duritz said. "We are playing it right then and there. It changes and you have to listen very carefully to what everyone else is doing because someone will make a left turn, and if you're not listening, you [mess] the whole song up."

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