Trouble in mind: AJ Croce plays the blues his way

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AJ Croce. Photo by Shelby Duncan.

I recently was introduced to AJ Croce, an incredible singer/songwriter, boogie-woogie and barrelhouse blues piano player, and guitarist, whose new album Twelve Tales was released in February on Compass Records. Anyone whose been reading my blog should know that I’m a huge blues fan and I also have a love for boogie-woogie and barrelhouse blues. AJ has been performing and recording for over 20 years, since the age of 19, and his skills on the black and whites are beyond compare. Here he is with an original song that truly exemplifies his command of the 88s, “Come and Go”:



Here is AJ with another roots-infused original on guitar called “Momentary Lapse of Judgement”:

If the name AJ Croce sounds familiar, you’re right. AJ is the son of the legendary Jim Croce. As a fan of 70s singer/songwriter music, I have two Jim Croce vinyl albums in my collection. I love his blues-infused hits like Don’t Mess Around With Jim and Big Bad Leroy Brown.

As Jim tragically passed in a plane accident when AJ was only 2 years old, AJ grew up getting to know his father through his friends and through his father’s own recordings. As a young person trying to forge his own musical and creative identity, AJ focused on his own musical exploration. An interesting interview I watched revealed that AJ had started learning and playing the blues as a kid and learned from the originals like Fats Waller, Bessie Smith, Mississippi John Hurt, etc. After he started listening to unreleased tapes of his father playing music, he discovered that not only did Jim play the same artists as AJ, but AJ unbeknownst chose the same obscure songs. Talk about a primal musical cord that runs in the realm beyond ordinary understanding. So fascinating. One of the songs that both AJ and Jim had played unknowingly that AJ mentioned in the interview is a song by Fats Waller called, “You’re not the only oyster in the stew”:

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Jim Croce vinyl from my personal collection.
Jim Croce vinyl from my personal collection.

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