Songs from the rich musical collection of Jim Croce will take the spotlight this week in Chicago.
The late musician's son, A.J. Croce, will perform the show "2 Generations of American Music" for fans March 7 at City Winery on Randolph Street.
"I'm looking forward to it. I've never played this show in Chicago before. So, it's kind of a special thing," Croce said. The concert at the intimate venue will pay tribute to Croce's father and star signature tunes as well as songs from the younger Croce's catalog. His father, Jim, died in a plane crash in 1973 when A.J. was 2 years old.
"Chicago is a kind of special place where my dad broke out of (musically)," Croce said, adding it was the heyday of the era of FM radio stations that would readily play the first tunes from the emerging songwriter/musician.
The younger Croce, a multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter in his own right, is known for his piano playing and a blend of pop/folk/jazz and blues sounds.
Among Croce's songs to be featured in this generational City Winery show will be tunes from his latest album, "Just Like Medicine." The album was produced by singer-songwriter Dan Penn. Jim Croce songs sure to be part of the mix include "Time In A Bottle," "Bad Bad Leroy Brown," I Got A Name" and "Operator."
"It was a super fun project," Croce said about the album "Just Like Medicine," which features songs performed with Vince Gill, The McCrary Sisters, Steve Cropper and The Muscle Shoals Horns. "It was recorded in three days," he said, adding that "mixing it was another thing." The mixing process of the album was done very old school, with the same type of techniques used in making mono recordings.
Croce said while he respects his father's musical legacy, he had many other influences as well when it came to music.
"My dad was far less of an influence than his record collection," Croce said. He explained that father Jim had been a DJ in college and had access to a rich catalog of music. "My grandfather was also a record collector."
The younger Croce has written songs with Leon Russell and other musician/songwriters. He said he also admires the music of Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Squeeze and others.
Croce said he's always working on new material. "And I've always loved music from different cultures," he added.
The idea for the "2 Generations" show was sparked about five years ago.
"The idea was sort of going to be a one-off thing. It was really fun and many people loved it. I wanted to showcase some of his (my father's) music and my music," he said, about the concert. "I also wanted to show how we had a lot in common with our influences."
Croce said that "everything you know of his (father's music) was recorded in 18 months." His father, as a songwriter and musician, he said, was "sincere and real."
"He wasn't trying to be anyone he wasn't. ... He was unique. I also felt like he was a bit desperate to prove to himself and his family that he could really do it," Croce said. "He was the real working class hero and the music comes across that way."
FYI: A.J. Croce will perform "2 Generations of American Music" at 8 p.m. March 7 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago. Tickets are $25, $28, $32 and $35. Visit citywinery.com.