By Denise Leslie
Community Concert Hall
at Fort Lewis College
The Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College will present A.J. Croce “BY REQUEST,” streamed online, at 6:30 p.m. on March 18.
Over the past three decades, Croce 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.
His new album, “BY REQUEST,” was born of late-night gatherings with groups of friends, many of them fellow musicians, with Croce at the piano taking requests. Croce revisits these musical evenings, with personally curated covers that traverse decades and genres, propelled by his spirited, piano mastery and emotive vocals.
“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 A.J. 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 up-and-coming guitarist Garrett Stoner.
His father, the late Jim Croce, died in a tragic plane crash just before A.J. Croce’s second birthday. A.J. Croce started playing piano at a young age and works to establish his own identity as a musician.
Concert Hall director Charles Leslie said, “AJ was scheduled to return to Durango this spring — even though we can’t have him in person at this time, we are excited to offer this live broadcast to our community.”
From sharing an obscure song by Motown artist Shorty Long, “Ain’t No Justice,” to his funky, dead-on version of Billy Preston’s “Nothing from Nothing,” Croce keeps the virtual party hopping. While he delivers faithful recreations of such nuggets as The Five Stairsteps’ “Ooh Child” and Allen Toussaint’s “Brickyard Blues,” he puts his own spin on piano-driven arrangements of songs by Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Sam Cooke, The Faces and more. Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” is reinterpreted as a gospel song and The Beach Boys’ “Sail On Sailor” becomes a trippy, rollicking ride.
A virtuosic piano player, A.J. 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. Croce has also co-written songs with such formidable tunesmiths as Leon Russell, Dan Penn, Robert Earl Keen and multi-Grammy winner Gary Nicholson.
Tickets are $15 per household with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. For more information, contact the Concert Hall at 247-7657 or visit online at www.durangoconcerts.com.
The Community Concert Hall is a not-for-profit, multiuse performance venue located on the campus of Fort Lewis College. Its ability to bring a diverse spectrum of shows to southwest Colorado is made possible through a partnership with the college, a state-supported, independent institution of higher education, and through financial and in-kind contributions from generous members of the community.