September 3, 2004

MACUILXOCHITL: Five Flower,” the Aztec god of music and dance

Local Musician A.J. Croce Releases New CD and Looks Toward Future

By Francisco H.Ciriza

Adrian James Croce took the stage at Canes Bar and Grill last month and ripped through an amazing set with his four-piece band, thus introducing his recently released and highly anticipated fifth CD, Adrian James Croce, on Seedling Records.

Although only in his early thirties, A.J. Croce has experienced more than his share of ups and downs. However, with music as a constant element he has been able to keep focused and positive throughout. In fact, he now looks to the future and contemplates the best manner in which to begin paying back his community for the gifts he has been fortunate enough to enjoy in this life.

A.J. sat at his piano and talked with La Prensa San Diego shortly before his CD release party at Canes to talk about his newest music and his plans for the future.

Listening to the music on Adrian James Croce one hears a vast range of influences and although Croce didn’t always want his influences to be on his sleeve as a sort of a badge he knows it is difficult not to be compared to other artists. His earliest influences were Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. Later, the sixties weighed heavily on his musical soul and most recently, work as a studio session player and writing music for film have added to his complex musical character.

“ I learn a lot when I’m in a new circumstance, because I need to figure out what they’re looking for. It’s the same writing music for films. I’ve been doing a bit of that, too. When you’re doing that, you’re working for someone who has a definite idea about what they want to hear. It’s like that with every engineer and every producer, as well,” said Croce.

Through the years, A.J. has lost his father, the late Jim Croce, in a tragic plane crash in 1973, his vision not much later (of which he’s regained a good portion), and during the recording of his third CD, he suffered yet another major setback. As he has previously, however, Croce found a way to not only overcome but to achieve in spite of such a great loss.

“I lost my voice during Fit To Serve in Memphis. I went to a great vocal coach in LA who gave me exercise and she really taught me how to sing. All of the sudden I was able to reach two higher octaves. It really changed everything for me.”

Croce is very proud of his work on his new CD. In fact, he’s not sure he’s ever felt quite so good about any of his previous records. He recorded this CD completely on his own and has released it independently, and as a result, didn’t have to answer to any record company types. He was completely free to make the record he wanted to make.

Croce added, “I wanted an organic feel to the music. They’re pop songs; each one like a painting. Each painting needed a different frame. Sometimes you need a real elaborate frame, but sometimes that frame can get in the way of the song.”

Croce inked a distribution deal with Red Eye Distribution and the CD was officially released on July 27th. The distribution firm has had only 20 records come out this year and Croce feels strongly that the company has the time and energy to give to his record.

In conjunction with all of the efforts being directed toward his latest record, Croce himself will be moving out of town for a year, but not all for the promotion of his own music. He’s come up with a plan to promote the music of other artists, ones he feels deserve to be heard. His idea is to start a record company for the sole purpose of releasing this essentially underground music.

“I really want to be able to put more into this record company project. I want to put together a group of people who have a similar attitude. I want to find a way to release other people’s music and concentrate on music that usually doesn’t get a chance to be heard. I want to contribute something back to the musical community,” said Croce.

And so it is with this man, it seems life has continually taken more than it has given to him and yet A.J. Croce looks for ways to make his music heard rather than make excuses for himself. If that weren’t enough to make him a noteworthy individual, now he looks ahead to finding a way to assist others with their efforts at creating and promoting their own art. A.J. Croce may never be superstar as far as today’s standards are for such things, but he has and continues to surpass most people’s drive, energy, and sheer determination… much greater and worthwhile achievements, by far.


Veteran Metal Act Downset Comes To San Diego

Fans of old school metal and punk would enjoy catching Downset, the Los Angeles outfit currently appearing as part of the Projekt Revolution Tour. The band is reminiscent of early Black Flag and Metallica. Considered predecessors to the modern rap/metal hybrid personified by the likes of Korn, Limp Bizkti, and P.O.D., Downset rocks hard and exemplifies the punk attitude, full of constructive anger and always questioning the establishment.

Downset features lead singer Rey Oropeza whose Latino/ Jewish heritage supplies a rich backdrop for his emphatic lyrical barrages and emotionally charged delivery.

Catch Downset this Friday at Coors Amphitheater on the Projekt Revolucion Tour.

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