Sunday, July 19, 2009

Counting Crows & Augustana: Great show & great place.

July 17, 2009

“One bottle limit per person,” said the sign where they sold wine to patrons of the Counting Crows / Augustana concert at Maryhill Winery.

It’s a great place for a concert, especially this night, when the weather stayed warm until the end. Maryhill Winery is a green oasis on the dry, steep banks of the Columbia River about 100 miles east of Portland, Oregon. A few miles outside of the designated scenic area, where the trees stop growing, the white wind generating turbines stretch along the golden hilltops for miles.

The stage looks out onto a lush, green, grassy area, with white reserved seats below and terraced open areas higher up, where people brought their own lawn chairs and blankets. Those of us with reserved seats could walk right up to the stage, close enough to read the faces of the band members.

Lead singer Adam Duritz was self-assured. Having slept away from his home 174 of past 193 nights, he, the bands, and the crew put on a professional, solid show. His confidence and personality shined, from a knowing twinkle signaling he was about to do something to get a cheer, to what looked like sincere feelings when he sang his heartfelt songs.

Augustana’s lead singer, Dan Layas looked like he either forgot to take his medication or took something supplemental. Despite his peculiar ticks, he sounded pretty good and his timing was accurate throughout. Instead of a warm up band followed by the headliner, Counting Crows started off, then tansitioned with Augustana, so they could have a break, then came back.

The sign broadcast, “Traveling Circus and Medicine Show.” Duritz said the show is to help cures what ails you. While explaining the theme of the Circus, he gave permission to take pictures and film.

Photos are posted at:

One of the videos is at:

Overall, the crowd was pleasant, good-looking, and mostly older. I noticed very few people in their twenties. Toward the end of the concert, we began to wonder how some of those, who could hardly walk, would negotiate the dark roads home on this moonless night. Perhaps sobriety checkpoints could help close the budget gaps for the Washington State Police.

We left with the first wave, missing any encores and drunk drivers. By 12:20 a.m., I was in the hot tub in Trout Lake, admiring a spectularly starry night.

The hit lyrics wonder, “maybe this year - - will be better - - than the last.” So far, so true.

© 2009 by JM, all rights reserved

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