Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue and Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tours provided the models for the Saturday Night Rebel Rockers Traveling Circus and Medicine Show that Counting Crows will stage this summer with Michael Franti & Spearhead and Augustana.
"I wanted to show people a whole night of music, with everybody playing together and separately, too, and a lot of collaboration," Crows frontman Adam Duritz tells Billboard.com. "It's not the usual open, middle and headline thing. I want to play with other musicians and collaborate and have fun, and I want to give people something really special, 'cause rock 'n' roll should be special."
All three bands have gathered in Naperville, Ill., to begin working on logistics of the show. The tour starts June 29 with the Crows and Augustana, with Spearhead joining July 19 -- after another few days of rehearsal -- and trek wraps up in early September.
Duritz says each performance will start and finish with all of the musicians on stage together, then alternate individual band sets with some co-m,ingling between the musicians. A recent rehearsal lasted for nine hours (followed by a pick-up basketball game) and included a half-hour rendition of Spearhead's "Rude Boys Back in Town" into which Duritz laced a dub version of the Crows' favorite "Goodnight Elizabeth."
"It's got to be kind of a fluid thing," Duritz says. "We'll have to keep an eye on it. There'll be a little bit of structure, but...good luck, y'know? The important thing is that people know these shows are going to start at 7 or 7:30, whenever they're supposed to start, so don't show up at 9 o'clock to see Counting Crows 'cause you'll have missed most of the show -- including a good chunk of us."
Beyond the tour, Duritz says the Crows are "brainstorming" things the group would like to do now that its parted ways with longtime label, Geffen Records, and have gone independent. First up is likely a CD and DVD of the band's performance of its 1993 debut album, "August and Everything After," recorded in September of 2007 at New York's Town Hall. In addition to the album in its entirety, the show also included previews of material from the Crows' 2008 album "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" and an encore of covers with Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba and members of the Low Stars.
"It's a really good concert film," Duritz says. "It was really, really visceral, kind of a blur. I don't remember much about the actual concert. I can only tell you about it 'cause I edited the film with the editor; I was surprised at what I was watching, like, 'Ooh, wow, we did [i]that[/i]? Cool...' It's really powerful."