By Katherine Cole
Hello again from Austin. Day three of SXSW Music 2013 and I’m still running around like a crazy person. I’m getting over my disappointment at not winning the Prince ticket lottery, thanks to all the other great music at all other great music going on around town. (That’s not entirely true, but I’m trying to make myself feel better)
With hundreds of bands playing at any given moment, it’s impossible to keep get to each and every show that you’ve carefully marked in the schedule. Traffic (pedestrian and vehicular) woes add to the difficulty of trying to get from one venue to another in a timely manner. I’ve learned over the years that sometimes it’s best to just put down the list and follow your ears and eyes. Which led me to AJ Croce‘s showcase in a downtown church Wednesday night.
I have to thank Steve Poltz (a regular visitor to the Roots studio) for the suggestion–he and AJ are longtime friends and have written many songs together. I trust his judgement (at least when it comes to music!), so when Steve told me I really needed to see AJ, I fought my way through the crowds and grabbed a seat in the church-hall-turned-concert-venue.
What a treat! AJ (on guitar and piano) and guitarist Michael Bizar treated us to a taste of “Twelve Tales”, a new CD recorded with six different producers in six studios around the country. They include New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint (the bluesy “Rollin’On” ) and Nashville’s 81 year old dynamo Cowboy Jack Clement (“A Momentary Lapse of Judgement).
If you’re new to AJ and his music, his site will provide a good sampler to start with. A couple of facts for the newbies: his father was the legendary singer-songwriter Jim Croce, who died in a plane crash when AJ was very young. AJ was blinded not long after, but later regained sight in his left eye. He later faced another huge challenge: temporarily losing his voice due to overuse. regaining it through what’s described as ” rigorous retraining.
While did treat the crowd to a wonderful version of his father’s hit “Operator”, AJ’s originals are very compelling. “Coraline” is from the 2010 CD “Cage of Muses”–this is not the version we heard in Austin, but every bit as stellar.
Another highlight was when AJ asked longtime friend and collaborator, the aforementioned Steve Poltz, to leave his seat in the audience and sing along on “Once Again,” a tune they co-wrote several years ago. This is just the little unexpected extra “something” that makes a SXSW showcase even more memorable.
OK–must run. Wish me luck in the drawing for a ticket to see Justin Timberlake Saturday night!