Second Generation Songwriter AJ Croce brings Rocking Piano Act to Stella Blue

Sometimes it can be hard living under the shadow of a famous parent. Just ask A.J. Croce, son of singer, songwriter and master of the love song, Jim Croce.  Undoubtedly at every show he plays, he has to deal with the inevitable requests for “Operator”, “Bad Leroy Brown” or “Time in A Bottle”, but the twenty-something A.J. takes it all in stride, letting his own music speak for itself.        The music does a good job of representing the talent of the young musician, and has attracted the interest of major universities who have asked Croce to deliver lectures on 20th Century music.  It also garnished the attention of bigger names in the music industryÖlike Ray Charles, Carlos Santana, James Brown, Rod Stewart, Aretha Franklin and Dave Matthews, all of which have taken Croce on national tours.  But Croce is headlining his own act this time around, making an appearance at the Stella Blue in Asheville this Thursday to support his latest album, Transit.            Formerly known best as a piano man, mixing blues, jazz and Americana with an inherited ability to craft songs around poignant lyrics, Croce drew some inspiration from a different genre this time around.  Citing albums from Brit-pop bands like the Beatles and the Zombies, he feels that this new instrumentation is a musical evolution of sorts.           “This is my Dylan goes electric album,” he says of the new 12-song record, and truth be told, it does contain the ferocity of Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited.”        There is a marked change in the sound on this album from the A.J. Croce of the preceding three.  Perhaps this stems from the new addition of distorted guitar and energetic drums that flow along beside of his own rocking piano style.  Perhaps it comes from working and writing songs with traditional R&B bands in L.A. and guitar-based songwriters in Nashville for the past few years.       Whatever the case may be, rest assured that Thursday night’s show will be equally as rocking with Croce bringing his new backing band along for the ride.  It’s not going to be some guy sitting behind a piano, crooning away like Barry Manilow.  Prepare yourselves, because A.J. Croce is setting out to put the rhythm and blues back into R&B and the rock into rock n’ roll.  Listening to the new album or watching him play live this Thursday, one might even believe that A.J. was possessed by the ghost of the “Killer” himself, Jerry Lee Lewis. That is, if Jerry Lee Lewis weren’t still alive and still kicking over piano stools himself.     Doors open at 8, tickets are available at the Stella Blue box-office.