A.J. Croce has the talent and charisma that makes him good. He does not, nor does he need to, rely on his famous father, Jim Chroce, for recognition or status.
Adrian James (A.J.) was only two years old when Jim was killed in a plane crash in Louisiana. Both Jim and his wife Ingrid were singers, songwriters and performers. He gained a double dose of creativity but came over to us as a simple, sincere musician who loves to entertain.
His voice is like a raspy Bob Dylan and his piano virtuosity is even better than Jerry Lee Lewis. He also plays the guitar extremely well and writes songs that we all enjoyed hearing.
The nearly full house at the Pearson Lakes Art Center on Friday night seemed to love everything he did. I would put his show as one of the best I have seen there in nearly a decade.
A.J. had a band of backup musicians that are among the most talented possible. David Varard played bass and sang beautiful harmony. He has played with the best including B.B. King. Gary Mallaber was the drummer. He was so good and offered some comic relief at times. He played with the Steve Miller Band for several years. The youngest guy on that stage was Garrett Stover, a phenomenal guitar player who looked to be in his early 30s.
Croce and band wowed us with some of his father's songs, some he wrote, and others of he wrote with friends such as Leon Russell. We sang along and clapped in time to the beat for the Russell/Croce song "Rollin On."
Croce amused us with stories of his youth and comical happenings as he performs across the country.
He did a Motown style version of "Ain't No Justice" that has us rockin' in our chairs and his piano on that tune was awesome.
Of course we all had to sing along to "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." His rendition of "Operator" was a hit with the audience who stood and cheered the band after "I Got A Name."
Lucky for us the band returned to the stage for an encore with "Time In A Bottle." We all wished we could same time in a bottle but know that we will remember A.J. Croce and his band for years to come. It was an incredible evening of music, smiles, cheers, and laughter. Definitely, it was one of the best! I'd go again tomorrow if I could.