When you’re a Grammy Award-winning songwriter whose rock band’s debut album was certified as 12x platinum and you also have a thriving solo career, there’s a lot to love about your career. For Rob Thomas, the aforementioned musician, it’s hard to choose which part is the best.
“It’s a tossup for me between that moment when you write a song. It’s a very solemn moment. It’s you and you alone. It’s like you’re in a vacuum,” Thomas said. “Then you go out and play it.”
He loves live performances, too, because the energy of the crowd and how they react to the music is special.
But one thing is certain: Studio time isn’t a favorite.
And that’s OK — especially because he loves playing live shows like the one planned for next week, here in Bangor, Maine.
Thomas and co-headliners Counting Crows will be playing at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3. He’ll be performing some old favorites and new stuff from his latest solo album, “The Great Unknown,” which was released in August 2015.
The co-headlining tour kicked off last week in West Palm Beach, Florida. And when Thomas traveled south from his New York home, he had someone special along for the ride.
“My son [Maison] jumped on the [tour] bus in New York, and we took the ride from New York to Florida,” Thomas said.
At 18, Maison is a musician, too. This fall, he’s heading to Berklee College of Music in Boston — coincidentally, Boston is also the tour stop right before Bangor. Although his son has toured with him before, Thomas says having his son on the bus only gets better as he ages.
“Now, every tour he comes out on, it’s more fun,” Thomas said.
This tour will wrap up in Nashville, Tennessee, on Sept. 30. Along the way, Thomas and Counting Crows will play a number of iconic spots, including New York venues Nikon at Jones Beach Theater and Bethel Woods Center for the Arts — site of the original Woodstock festival.
So, how do venues like Bethel Woods compare to newer venues like Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion?
“I think the musician in all of us gets really excited about playing at these historic venues,” Thomas said. They make the musicians feel like they are part of something because there’s a lot of history there, Thomas said.
However, ultimately, the shows aren’t that different.
“The crowds, they’re amazingly similar. You’re kind of like the house band for their night,” Thomas said. Everyone’s there to have a good time, and Thomas and his band are there to provide that.
From band Matchbox Twenty to his Grammy Award-winning 1999 hit with Carlos Santana, “Smooth,” Thomas has had a thriving career over the last 20 years. And after touring with the same band for a while, they’re like another family to him, Thomas said.
Backstage, he said it’s pretty laid back. “I am pretty good with hanging out, having a conversation and then walking out on stage,” Thomas said.
Thomas laughs that he doesn’t have any quirky pre-show rituals — nope, no need for all green M&Ms.
But there is one thing he and his band do, and it’s really about centering themselves before they start playing. They gather as a band in a circle backstage and take a moment before heading out into the spotlight. “That hour and a half or two hours a night you want to get out of that,” Thomas said. That is all the real life stuff people deal with — such as worries, concerns and text messages.
Heading to the show in the Queen City of the East next week? Thomas says fans will love the energy.
“This solo band is ridiculous. We’ve been together a long time. They’re super tight. I like to think when we’re up there, it’s pure joy,” Thomas said. “Hopefully that will be infectious.”
And who couldn’t use a night of pure joy?