who: A.J. Croce
where: Altamont Theatre
when: Saturday, Nov. 17 (8 p.m., $15. http://myaltamont.com)
Singer-songwriter A.J. Croce's music pulls from a number of influences (blues, jazz, soul, folk) and a range of experiences. Like how he was introduced to the songs of Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder as a child after he lost his eyesight to a tumor (he's since regained vision in one eye).
Like how his smoky vocal is uniquely his own and yet also recalls the distinctive post-folk of another Croce: A.J.’s father, Jim, who wrote ’70s-era classic “Time in a Bottle” for his then-unborn son. A.J. (The elder Croce later died in a plane crash in 1973, when the younger was just 2 years old).
If that all-over-the-map style has been a hindrance at points in A.J.’s career, his current project — a high-concept collaboration with many producers and musicians that will result in the release of a new track per month in 2013, and an LP at year’s end — is intended to define A.J.’s aesthetic. “I'm proud to play different kinds of music. I'd be bored just playing one thing,” he says. “The idea of having all of these really gifted people to work with is an honor and a thrill. I feel invigorated and like anything is possible, creatively.” So far, he’s laid down tracks with Jack “Cowboy” Clement in Nashville and will work with Allen Toussaint in New Orleans before his Asheville show. The accomplice list also includes multi-instrumentalist/producer Todd Rundgren, pop musician Jason Falkner and possibly singer-songwriter/producer Joe Henry.
Next year, A.J. celebrates the 10th anniversary of his indie label, Seedling Records. “If it was going to be a low-budget project; I wanted to decide where that budget went,” he says of his decision to break out on his own. “Now, with the world the way it is with music, there's all kinds of creative ways to do things affordably.” Early Seedling releases were distributed by Redeye out of Haw River, N.C.
And, while A.J. has visited this state a handful of times (he lived in Nashville for a number of years; he’s since moved back to California where he grew up), he says, “as much as we wanted to get to Asheville, we never made it all the way there.” But the musician has fans in this area, and he’s all about accommodating his listeners. Including performing a song or two from his father’s catalog.
“There's a point in the show where I ask people what they want to hear, and if they want to hear one of his songs, I'm happy to play it,” says A.J. “If they want to hear a Kinks song, I'm happy to play it. Whatever it may be. If it's a Jimmy Rodgers song, I'll do it. I'm there to entertain the people who come to the show.”
Read the full interview with A.J. at http://avl.mx/mu.
Alli Marshall can be reached at email@example.com.