A.J. Croce - May 14th 7:00 PM

Image

“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

Some artists are afforded the chance to tell their personal stories as they see fit, at a particular moment when they know the time has come. But for many, there is no choice — the story emerges hardwired to the music and they become forever identified with it no matter how their story may evolve or change.

A.J. Croce has been inextricably linked to a version of his own story by virtue of his name. He’s experienced a lifetime of comparisons to a father he lost at age two, whose music bears little resemblance to his own output yet still serves as a reference point despite the years that have passed and the many iconic mentors who have stepped in to offer their counsel, creativity, and endorsement throughout his long career.

It’s curious that it now feels necessary to include the reference, as enough time has passed that a new generation of tastemakers and journalists might not know who Jim Croce was — that he was a golden-voiced everyman, a singer-songwriter-guitarist who died too soon, leaving one of pop music’s most beautiful and memorable ballads (written about a young A.J.) in his wake.

Croce the younger, on the other hand, is a piano man, first and foremost, and a vocal stylist second. His muted growl pulls from a host of American traditions and anti-heroes — it’s part New Orleans, part juke joint, part soul, but somehow evokes New York, a continuum where John Lurie meets Lou Reed. He is further a songwriter, driven by a personal muse, informed by a life on a boomerang of tragedy.

His gritty and accomplished ninth studio album, produced by legendary soul singer-songwriter and producer Dan Penn, is the latest and arguably greatest effort yet. Penn, of course, is writer of such hits as “The Dark End of the Street,” “Cry Like a Baby,” “I’m Your Puppet” and “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” and producer of the Box Tops’ “The Letter,” as well as songs and recordings by Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby Blue Bland, Clarence Carter, and Alex Chilton. Also making appearances are Grammy Award-winning country artist Vince GillSteve Cropper (Booker T. & the MGs, Blues Brothers, author of many Stax hits), the McCrary Sisters and the Muscle Shoals Horns.

Croce has lived longer now than his father did — at 45, he is 15 years beyond the age his father was when he died. With Just Like Medicine (due out August 11, 2017 on Compass Records) an authentic version of his story, which contains both unimaginable sorrow and many blessings, can be felt and understood.  

Just Like Medicine’s second track, “The Heart That Makes Me Whole,” was written by Croce with the late great Leon Russell. Croce notes, “We’d played together over the years, and one time I went to go see Leon play with Willie Nelson and we really connected through the music that we both loved — whether it was Ivory Joe Hunter, or all these great piano players who we both loved. At first, it felt a little sad recording this song because Leon and I had spoken and I was looking forward to have him on this album. Leon lived 20 minutes away from me in Tennessee, so it was bittersweet because we couldn’t record it together. But I was happy that Steve Cropperthe McCrary Sisters and the Muscle Shoals Horns and I could try to fill that void as best we could.”

The track “The Name of the Game,” is notable for many reasons. One is that it finds Croce connecting with a part of his soulful legacy that hits close to home because the bluesy gem is a previously unreleased song by his father — the only known completed song written for the elder Croce’s next album, and the last song that he wrote. A.J. explains, “‘The Name of the Game’ is a song I had known about for a really long time. It was destined for my dad’s next record that he never got to make. The song had been bootlegged, just him playing guitar, but it had never been properly recorded. I thought this song really fit this album. We listened to a couple of my father’s demos and final recordings and tried to treat the song with the respect it deserves — while still making it my own. At the beginning of our track, Colin Linden — who’s amazing — is playing the same guitar my father wrote the song on. You can tell it’s a Jim Croce song, no doubt. And I just love Vince Gill’s playing, so I called him up to add his musical touch to it too.”

In truth — as Just Like Medicine demonstrates beautifully — A.J. Croce has spent his very musical life forging deep connections with music and musicians, including with producer Dan Penn and many of the other soulful artists who helped him make this new album. “I’ve had the chance to work with a lot of my musical heroes and a lot of people who became my heroes as I worked with them,” Croce explains. “These people don’t have a lot to prove. And one thing I found out is that even with all they’ve done and all they’ve achieved, every one of them is really open in the end. Even though they may have a certain style, and sometimes be stubborn about how they do things, when push comes to shove, they are open, willing and able to go in any number of directions to chase a good song. They’ve all taught me a lot about how to follow the music and find the truth. That’s why the music of Just Like Medicine sounds real and raw — it’s meant-to-be music. This music here was not fixed. This music here was made.”  

A.J. Croce’s nine albums have been released via both major and independent labels, and have charted 17 Top 20 singles and all nine albums on the radio including on Top 40, Americana, Independent, Blues, and Jazz. A virtuoso piano player, he has performed at a TED Talk and gave a master class at the University of Barcelona. Croce has also performed on major talk shows and news programs including The Late Show, The Tonight Show, The Today Show, CNN, MTV, and VH1.

The Cody Sisters Band - May 25th 7:00 PM

Cody Sisters
Their music falls from the clouds like a soft warm rain and in an instant thunders down like a Colorado storm. Audiences are left emotional, inspired, and exhilarated all at the same time. The soft sister harmonies remind the crowd of a simpler, slower time. As the show builds, the award winning sound of their guitars, mandolins, banjos, and bass will fill the hall such that the audience is swimming in roaring river of perfect sound. These are just three musicians, but their almost entirely acoustic sound is the feeling of a full orchestra. Seeing the Cody Sisters Band is an experience. These young women and their bass player fuse so many different influences, it’s often difficult to define them. The Cody Sisters experience blends Old Time, Swing, Gypsy Jazz, Jazz, Folk, and Modern Bluegrass together in a completely unique sound that stays with the audiences for weeks to come. Their original songs and sound always leaves a lasting impression. Not simply a family band by any stretch of the imagination. Any bio of the Cody Sisters would be remiss if their chief roadie ‘Heather’ wasn’t mentioned. While not on stage, her influence provides the perfect grounding for this unique sound.

Acoustic Eidolon

July 14th 7:30

acousticeidolon.jpg

Fate has a magical way of bringing people together. Take the case of Joe and Hannah, aka Acoustic Eidolon. In 1995, Hannah, a studio cellist, received a call to play on a Boulder ensemble’s record. Hannah listened in amazement as directions to the recording studio told her to turn on a small road near her home, and then turn down her own street past her house!

Little did Hannah know that across the street and three houses away lived Joe, the greatest double-neck guitjo player in the world (OK, the only double-neck guitjo player in the world).

A few years after they met, Joe and Hannah both found themselves between full-time musical engagements. Joe called Hannah, saying he’d always wanted to hear the cello and the guitjo together. He had a feeling the harp-like sound of the guitjo, combined with the warmth of Hannah’s cello, would be beautiful together. So on a snowy day in February 1998, they got together to play for the first time. What happened next was magic. Captivated by the music they created together, Joe and Hannah immediately agreed to clear out their schedules, start rehearsing full-time, and form what would become Acoustic Eidolon.

But, fate wasn’t finished with Hannah and Joe. What started as a musical/business partnership and friendship blossomed into their marriage on October 14, 2001. Hannah and Joe (and sons Zach and Alex) became a family. Joe and Hannah joke that this was a marriage of convenience since they were already together all the time anyway! But, anyone watching them perform can feel the love that draws them together. Their love for one another, and their passion for life, speaks through their music.

Mito De Soto

August 23rd, 7:30

mito3.jpg
Mito de Soto is a well-known Spanish-American guitarist. His nickname Mito is a play on words; translated into English, mito means "myth"; but phonetically may be misinterpreted as a diminutive for Miguelito. De Soto uses mito as a unique musical nickname incorporating both his first and last names interpreting Mito de Soto as "myth of the grove."