A.J. Croce brings soulful show to Beaufort

5 mins read

By Pamela Brownstein

A.J. Croce, son of the late musician Jim Croce, will be performing “Two Generations of American Music” at the USCB Center for the Arts in Beaufort on Saturday, March 3. At this very special show, A.J. and his band will play some of his dad’s best known songs, songs that influenced them both and his own work.

“It stays fresh, stays fun,” Croce said of the show. “It’s really enjoyable.”

With an ensemble that includes electric and acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and piano, audiences should expect an upbeat, energetic stage presence. Croce, a Nashville-based musician who has toured with legends such as B.B. King and James Brown, said, “We’ve got a great group of musicians, and it’s critical to have the entertainment factor.”

“It’s going to be a fantastic show and everyone, young or old, will enjoy A.J.’s incredible talent,” said Center for the Arts Director Bonnie Hargrove.

A.J. (short for Adrian James) Croce started touring and performing when he was 18. “I had known what I wanted to do for all my life,” he said. 

Now at age 46, Croce has been featured on The Late Show, The Tonight Show, The Today Show, CNN, MTV, and VH1. His nine albums have been released by both major and independent labels and he has had 17 singles on the Top 20 charts.

He has touched many genres of music during his career — blues, jazz, Americana — but his sound can best be described as “soulful music of all varieties. Soulful means heartfelt, there’s no questioning the sincerity of the songwriting,” Croce said. “I’m not trying to play old music, but I want to pay respect for what came before.”

Throughout his career, people expected A.J. Croce to play his father’s songs, but he never did, until he came up with the idea for this show — a little bit of his dad, a little bit of his own work, and a little bit of the blues. “It would be more interesting to me to be able to play music that influenced both of us,” A.J. Croce said. “Like the old blues, stuff that we both love.”

On his most recent album, Just Like Medicine, which was released last August, Croce was able to collaborate with many artists, including Grammy award-winning singer Vince Gill, Steve Cropper, David Hood and the McCrary Sisters. He said initially he wrote a song with Dan Penn, a longtime writer and producer from Muscle Shoals. But after listening to the song, Croce realized it might be the beginning of an album, and from there he worked with many talented musicians to create a contemporary collection of songs that have distinct roots in blues and an old school sound. The album even features an unreleased track that was written by his dad, called “Name of the Game.”

Anyone with any reverence for classic rock and roll will recognize Jim Croce’s songs such as “Operator,” “I’ve Got A Name,” and “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” which reached the number one spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart in July 1973. Tragically, two months later, Jim Croce died in a plane crash, when A.J. was only 2 years old.

“A lot of people don’t realize his whole career was recorded in 18 months,” A.J. said about his father’s brief, but enduring, body of work.

He added, “When it comes to lyrics, you can’t get more honest or soulful than my dad.”

IF YOU GO:

What: Two Generations of American Music

Where: USCB Center for the Arts, 801 Carteret Street, downtown Beaufort

When: Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: Tickets are $35 for adults, $30 for seniors and military, and $15 for students. 

Contact: Call 843-521-4145 or email Bonnie Hargrove at bhargrov@uscb.edu. 

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