From his debut as a jazz influenced blues-based artist to his evolution into a pop music iconoclast, singer-songwriter A.J. Croce has traveled a circuitous musical road. In celebration of his career, A.J. Croce will re-release his highly successful album, That’s Me in the Bar, on the year of its 20th anniversary. With his unique jazz piano stylings and blues-tinged voice, the 12-track album established Croce as a singular artistic force in 1995. The rerelease will feature a bonus track, “If You Want Me to Stay,” recorded 20 years ago but locked in the vault until now.
The son of legendary singer-songwriter Jim Croce, A.J.’s career began with his first tour at age 18 opening up for B.B. King. In the span of a 20+-year career, A.J. has headlined festivals, concerts and major listening venues worldwide. He has been seen and heard on shows including Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Austin City Limits, Good Morning America, E!, and CNN, and he has shared the stage with an innumerable list of eclectic artists from Willie Nelson to Ray Charles, Béla Fleck to James Brown, Lyle Lovett to Morphine, and Rod Stewart to Ben Harper.
A loyal and appreciative audience and glowing press from Rolling Stone to the New York Times confirms the appeal of A.J’s genre-spanning music, with six of his albums positioned in various radio charts including Top 40, AAA, Americana, College, and Jazz. An ivory-searing New Orleans piano style established an essential juju, but his exploratory pop gems revealed a spectrum of influences from art rock to Americana and beyond. Initially signed as a jazz artist, he subsequently charted with an Americana roots release and recorded two well-regarded releases for BMG Records that expanded his audience exponentially. His subsequent albums were released on various independent labels and his own label, Seedling Records, established in 2003 to release his own records and that of other artists.
Having spent three years in Nashville where a packed weekly schedule of co-writing sharpened his writing to a keen edge, A.J. says that back home in California his song craft took an instant turn. “I began writing for myself again,” he confirms. He also began collaborating with the great Leon Russell (“A Song for You,” “This Masquerade”). “It’s a thrill and a little surreal to collaborate with Leon Russell. He’s been an influence and an inspiration as long as I can remember,” said A.J. at the time.
A dedicated family man, an adventurous artist and a confident creator; in this phase in his life and career, A.J. is focused less on expectations and more on instincts. “I generally want to do the stuff that makes me feel good,” he says. And like the blues greats who influenced him, A.J. Croce continues to create stellar music with longevity, authenticity and truth.
“…”That’s Me In The Bar” [is] a perfect foray into A.J. Croce's sultry, smooth vocals and hybrid sound, from the wailing organ and harmonies of gospel to the lilting guitar stylings of the blues."
“A.J. Croce has wisdom beyond his years. With his music, he represents his generation with a profound sense of honesty in his lyrics and quality in his delivery. The future of entertainment is safe in his hands!” - Willie Nelson
“One of the greatest young songwriters” – David Wild, Rolling Stone
…a masterly, multifaceted songwriter who can belt out hip-shaking honky tonk, honeydew pop and chilling little ballads with an unrivaled skill and spirit. So good, he's scary.
Robbie plays by nobody's rules--except the ones he hears in his head. He is prodigiously talented, with the soul of a country singer and the mind of a vaudevillian. Besides, his scorn for the music industry makes ours look positively prosaic. But don't let that make you lose sight of THE SONGS.
Widely regarded by those who monitor such things as one of the most gifted songwriters to ever ply the trade, he can sing the kids ditty "Eggs" and Haggard's "Sing a Sad Song" back to back and mean 'em both. While it is true he started off a honky tonk smartass, it quickly became evident that Robbie was a monster talent and some of his early Bloodshot albums have been rightly elevated to the status of "classic" and serve as their own Greatest Hits collections. Seriously.
It is a damning condemnation of our world's musical taste that he has not been elevated to the ranks of the multi-faceted giants of songwriting like Nick Lowe, Dave Alvin and Harlan Howard. He damn well should be. Robbie's cross-genre antics (like us, he has trouble navigating this world of hyphens) would have had him revered in times gone by; such artists used to be coveted, now they confuse. We take it personally that he's not more famous and consider it evidence of our world's moral and aesthetic decline.
Lost in the deserved accolades for being a fabulously unique, clever, and heartfelt writer is the fact that he's also one of the best guitarists around. The chameleon-like tall guy can whip it out in honky-tonk, country, bluegrass, power pop, or whatever strikes his ample whimsy at the time.
Robbie Fulks was born in York, Pennsylvania, and grew up in a half-dozen small towns in southeast Pennsylvania, the North Carolina Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge area of Virginia. He learned guitar from his dad, banjo from Earl Scruggs and John Hartford records, and ﬁddle (long since laid down in disgrace) on his own. He attended Columbia College in New York City in 1980 and dropped out in 1982 to focus on the Greenwich Village songwriter scene and other ill-advised pursuits.
In the mid-1980s he moved to Chicago and joined Greg Cahill’s Special Consensus Bluegrass Band, with whom he made one record (Hole in My Heart, Turquoise, 1989) and toured constantly. Since then he has gone on to create a multifarious career in music. He was a staff instructor in guitar and ensemble at Old Town School of Folk Music from 1984 to 1996. He worked on Nashville’s Music Row as a staff songwriter for Songwriters Ink (Joe Difﬁe, Tim McGraw, Ty Herndon) from 1993 to 1998. He has released solo records on the Bloodshot, Geffen, Boondoggle (self), and Yep Roc labels.
Radio loves him too: there's been multiple appearances on WSM’s “Grand Ole Opry”; PRI’s “Whadd’ya Know”; NPR’s “Fresh Air,” “Mountain Stage,” and “World Cafe”; and the syndicated “Acoustic Cafe” and “Laura Ingraham Show.” TV: PBS’s Austin City Limits; NBC’s Today, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and 30 Rock. TV/ﬁlm use of his music includes True Blood, My Name Is Earl, Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole, Very Bad Things, and Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, and he has voiced or sung campaigns for Budweiser, McDonalds, Nickelodeon, and Applebees. From 2004 to 2008 he hosted an hourlong performance/ interview program for XM satellite radio, “Robbie’s Secret Country.” His compositions have been covered by Sam Bush, Kelly Hogan, Sally Timms, Rosie Flores, John Cowan, and Old 97s.
Robbie’s writing on music and life have appeared in GQ, Blender, the Chicago Reader, DaCapo Press’s Best Music Writing anthologies for 2001 and 2004, Ampliﬁed: Fiction from Leading Alt-Country, Indie Rock, Blues and Folk Musicians, and A Guitar and A Pen: Stories by Country Music’s Greatest Songwriters. As an instrumentalist, he has accompanied the Irish ﬁddle master Liz Carroll, the distinguished jazz violinist Jenny Scheinman, and the New Orleans pianist Dr. John. As a producer his credits include Touch My Heart: A Tribute to Johnny Paycheck (Sugar Hill, 2004) and Big Thinkin’ by Dallas Wayne (Hightone, 2000). Theatrical credits include “Woody Guthrie’s American Song” and Harry Chapin’s “Cottonpatch Gospel.” He served twice as judge for the Winﬁeld National Flatpicking Guitar competition. He tours yearlong with various conﬁgurations and plays a weekly residency at the Hideout in Chicago.
Impressive, eh? But it wouldn't mean nothing if he couldn't consistently and inventively whip a room into an appreciative froth no matter what he plays, how he plays it and who he plays it with.
If he comes to your town, you need to experience one of the most talented PERFORMERS out there.