Event Reviews
Croce Plays Croce

A.J. Croce

Croce Plays Croce

The Paramount Theater, Cedar Rapids, Iowa • March 23, 2023

On the evening of March 23, The Paramount Theater hosted A.J. Croce in support of his Croce Plays Croce tour to a near sold out audience. As a lifelong fan of the late Jim Croce, I began following A.J. a number of years back and have been as affected by A.J.’s music as I was his father’s. There is something magical about music that has been lived before being written on paper and played on an instrument, and the Croce family seems to have mastered the ability to do it in spades.

Croce Plays Croce may sound like a simple night of homage to an incredible artist lost way too soon, but the evening plays out much more like a house party, with laughter and tears and a perfect live experience to the companion piece in A.J.’s latest album, By Request.

In a recent interview with A.J. about the tour and album, he recounted to me that over the years as he dug through his father’s record collection and really got inside his father’s songs, he began to realize that they each had many of the same influences, and the roots of their music held a lot of common ground. A.J.’s Croce Plays Croce is a beautiful, nostalgic journey for an artist who is still reaching his prime, yet has found a way to uniquely share his music and his father’s with several generations of Croce fans.

Croce Plays Croce, Cedar Rapids Iowa
Jeremy Glazier
Croce Plays Croce, Cedar Rapids Iowa

A.J. curates enough flexibility in the show to keep things fresh, and the night is alive with some Jim Croce classics, like “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” “Better Day,” “Box #10,” “Car Wash Blues,” “Rapid Roy,” and “Operator,” to name just a few. He pauses between certain songs to recount heartfelt stories about influences like Sam Cooke, Billy Preston, or Allen Toussaint, with whom A.J. has performed co-written music. He plays a mix of his own songs, including “Cures Just Like Medicine” and “Heart Makes Me Whole,” both from the 2017 album Just Like Medicine, the latter co-written with another legendary figure, Leon Russell.

Croce Plays Croce, Cedar Rapids Iowa
Jeremy Glazier
Croce Plays Croce, Cedar Rapids Iowa

As the evening begins to wind down, A.J. recounts that he had an opportunity to collaborate with his father on a song that was just in the demo stage when Jim Croce passed away, called “Name of the Game,” which appears on the aforementioned album, Just Like Medicine. Croce plays “Leroy Brown” and “I Got a Name” before the encore, which must be seen to fully appreciate.

Jim’s version of “Time In a Bottle” is played in conjunction with a video on the backdrop of Jim, Ingrid, and 2-year-old A.J. on their Pennsylvania farm, and midway through, Jim’s voice fades down as A.J. takes over the performance and finishes the song his father started.

Croce Plays Croce
courtesy Firefly Media
Croce Plays Croce

It’s a truly stunning representation of A.J. carrying on the legacy that began with his father, adding his own unique approach to music and his own stories to tell.

A.J. will be extending the tour through the end of 2023 in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of all three Jim Croce albums: You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, Life and Times, and I Got a Name. Check A.J.’s social media or get to his website to see where you can experience this show, because it truly is an experience.

A.J. Croce


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