The Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts, 1090 S. Vulture Mine Road, Wickenburg, dazzling piano man and singer-songwriter A.J. Croce back to the stage 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28.
Featuring his gritty vocal style and loose-and-easy piano mastery, “An Evening with A.J. Croce” pulls elements from a host of musical influences, delivering one-part New Orleans, one-part juke joint and one-part soul, for a wholly entertaining concert experience.
The son of late folksinger Jim Croce, Croce has built a distinctive career with a combination of contemporary blues and soulful rock threaded with hints of pop and gospel. Seven of his albums have been positioned on various radio charts including Top 40, Americana, College and Jazz. Instead of concerning itself with the conventional rules of genre, Croce’s captivating sound focuses on having a good time.
Fortunately, for the sight impaired Croce and his fans, the artist found catharsis and joy through music early in life, and has been willing to share it widely. As a child, he listened endlessly to icons such as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. By the time he was 16, he had established himself as a sideman and bandleader in numerous San Diego nightclubs. Before he turned 21, young Croce had already toured with music legends B.B. King and Ray Charles.
In 2021, Croce released “By Request,” the first album he recorded after losing his wife in 2018 to a rare heart ailment. It is also the first album by Croce to feature members of his full touring band: Gary Mallaber on drums (Van Morrison, Steve Miller Band), and David Barard on bass (Allen Toussaint, Dr. John), and up-and-coming guitarist Garrett Stoner. “By Request” features 12-curated cover songs inspired by of memories of late-night gatherings at home surrounded by friends, and Croce at the piano taking requests. Croce describes it as his way of inviting his audience over for a private gathering at his place.
“We end up in my music room and I start taking requests of every genre and era.” Croce promises. “The music is always fun and completely diverse.”
“An Evening with A.J. Croce” will feature songs from “By Request” such as his funky, dead-on version of Billy Preston’s “Nothing from Nothing,” and the 1967 classic from Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, “Better Day.” The concert will also include plenty of Croce’s original feel-good boogie jams and soulful rock ballads.
Tickets for “An Evening with A.J. Croce” are still available. They start at $32 for adults and $5 for those under 18. They are available at dewpac.org or by calling the box office at 928-684-6624.
Visit dewpac.org for the theater’s current COVID-19 policy.
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