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A feel-good set for a cause

The Baltimore Sun

After writing such a morose and introspective song as "Raining in Baltimore," you might expect Adam Duritz to have a downbeat take on the city.

But the Counting Crows' lead singer was all smiles Friday at Rams Head Live for an acoustic performance at Carson's Feel Good Fest. The concert raised $260,000 for the John M. Freeman Pediatric Epilepsy Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The concert was inspired by Carson Harris, an infant suffering from a rare form of epilepsy, and named after the song "Feel Good" by Gorillaz.

The Baltimore-born Duritz must have taken this concept of "feeling good" to heart, evident in the cooler of Coronas that he rolled onto the stage before encouraging all in attendance to "get very drunk."

Rams Head Live was certainly built for louder, more energized performances. The venue felt cavernous, but Duritz and his two onstage collaborators (Low Stars members Dave "Kid Lightning" Gibbs and Chris Seefried) made due.

They took their time delivering an intimate, nearly two-hour show. Sporting his usual dreadlocks and full beard, Duritz took a lighthearted approach to the performance. He took swigs of beer between each song and delivered retrospective tales of inspiration.

The performance felt like more of an informal rehearsal. Although Duritz's occasional chuckles sometimes forced Gibbs and Seefried to restart the songs or skip to the chorus - most of the songs were delivered with solid precision.

Duritz, with Gibbs and Seefried on guitar, performed an eclectic mix of songs from the Counting Crows' discography, often delivering lyrical hooks in a delayed, offbeat fashion. There was even a mash-up, between the Counting Crows tune "Rain King," and David Bowie's "All the Young Dudes."

Quite unexpectedly, half of the set comprised covers, some of which had Baltimore in the title. But there were other selections, such as Kenny Loggins' "Danny's Song," Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman," and Big Star's, "The Ballad of El Goodo," that demonstrated Duritz's ability to deliver southern-twanged vocals when needed.

Despite Counting Crows' coming double-disc release, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, fans weren't given any acoustic previews of the new songs. According to previous interviews and Duritz's official blog, the long-awaited album's lyrics were inspired by the wrongdoing that is committed on a Saturday and the regret that is felt the next day.

It's clear that Duritz hasn't unloaded all his emotional baggage. Fans will have to wait until March 25 to find out exactly what is in store.

brad.schleicher@baltsun.com

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