Friday, March 3 at 8PM
Singer-songwriter A.J. Croce pays tribute to his father, the late, great Jim Croce, with a heartfelt night of music and stories featuring Jim Croce’s enduring songs—such as “Time in A Bottle,” “One Less Set of Footsteps” and “Operator”—as well as A.J.’s own tunes, and songs that influenced both father and son.
Croce Plays Croce
“I had avoided talking about my father in public for so many years…I had done that so that people would hear me for what I was doing and so there was integrity in what I was doing. And then I realized, he’s part of my life and I’m a part of his legacy and I felt it was important at a certain age and a certain maturity to embrace it” (A.J Croce in an interview with CBS News)
A.J. Croce performs “Croce Plays Croce,” a special night of music featuring a complete set of classics by his late father Jim Croce, some of his own tunes, and songs that influenced both him and his father. This special event will feature timeless songs such as “Operator,” “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” “Time in a Bottle,” (a song written for A.J.), “Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy),” and “Lovers Cross,” to name a few. Throughout the evening, A.J. will speak on his musical connection to his father, painting a picture for the audience of family, artistry and memory.
Jim Croce was an American Folk singer with a short-lived professional recording and touring career, and decades of posthumous fame as one of the greatest songwriters and artists ever, with sales surpassing 50 million records, including three #1 songs and 10 Top 10 hits.
A.J. Croce’s 25-year touring and recording career has produced nine studio albums that have been released via both major and independent labels and have charted 18 Top 20 singles and all nine albums on the radio including on Top 40, Americana and Blues. A virtuoso piano player, Croce has toured with such esteemed artists as Willie Nelson, Lenny Kravitz, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and B.B. King. A.J.’s latest album project Just Like Medicine, out on Compass Records, features Vince Gill and Steve Cropper, and was produced by Muscle Shoals legend Dan Penn.
In such a crowded music universe it is a pleasure to witness triple uniqueness: pianist, songwriter, singer and at such a level, and who does he sound like? The answer is himself…A.J. Croce. (the late, great New Orleans piano player and Croce hero, Allen Toussaint)
A.J. Croce’s deep love for music came from his mother, Ingrid, a singer/songwriter, and his father, the late Jim Croce, who died in a tragic plane crash just before A.J.’s second birthday. A.J. started playing piano at a young age and purposely avoided his father’s music in order to establish his own identity as a musician. A.J.’s relationship with his father’s music changed 15 years ago, when he began digitalized his father’s tapes. One old cassette contained a bar performance of Jim Croce playing Blues tunes that had influenced him, including deep cut songs by musicians Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Blake, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, all musicians whose songs A.J. had also been playing since he was 12.
At 22, A.J. released his first album, A.J. Croce, and hasn’t stopped since. Over the past three decades, A.J. has established his reputation as a piano player and serious vocal stylist who pulls from a host of musical traditions and anti-heroes — part New Orleans, part juke joint, part Soul. On his new single “So Much Fun” (co-written with Gary Nicholson), he handles lead vocal and rollicking piano with an irresistible New Orleans loose-and-easy style.
Over his ten studio albums, it’s clear that A.J. holds an abiding love for all types of musical genres: Blues, Soul, Pop, Jazz, and Rock n’ Roll. A virtuosic piano player, Croce toured with B.B. King and Ray Charles before reaching the age of 21, and, over his career, he has performed with a wide range of musicians, from Willie Nelson to the Neville Brothers; Béla Fleck to Ry Cooder. A.J. has also co-written songs with such formidable tunesmiths as Leon Russell, Dan Penn, Robert Earl Keen and multi-Grammy winner Gary Nicholson. The Nashville-based singer/songwriter also has landed 20 singles on a variety of Top 20 charts. While it’s clear A.J.’s recordings and shows span many aforementioned genres, his tastes and extended influences reach even further to classical styles and world music styles from Latin Jazz to music of Africa, Eastern Europe, or India.
His newest album, By Request, was born of memories—of favorite artists and shows, but mostly, of late-night gatherings with groups of friends, many of them fellow musicians, with Croce at the piano taking requests. In it, A.J. revisits these musical evenings with 12 personally curated covers that traverse decades and genres, propelled by his spirited, piano mastery and emotive vocals. It’s a tribute to A.J. the music fan as well as A.J. the musician that both the variety and execution is inspired, aided by a full band and horns.
Additionally, By Request is the first album Croce has released since losing his wife of 24 years, Marlo Croce, after a sudden heart ailment. It’s also the first album by Croce to feature his full touring band: Gary Mallaber on drums (Van Morrison, Steve Miller band), David Barard on bass (Allen Toussaint, Dr. John), and his previous guitarist Garrett Stoner.
After more than 25 years making his own musical mark, he began performing some of his Dad’s songs live and forming a special show out of it. In the past few years, A.J. has begun periodically performing a “Croce Plays Croce” concert, where he shares stories & songs of Jim Croce, his own tunes, and covers that influenced the two of them. He loves seeing “the joy it brings audiences,” as well as enjoying that he can keep the shows fresh and exciting because he has the flexibility to change up the set list each time out. In Fall of 2022, he will debut the 50th Anniversary of “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” concert (on a U.S. tour), a special edition of “Croce Plays Croce,” performing that debut Jim Croce album completely, incorporating video projection, and a larger ensemble.
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