He’s got a name.
And A.J. Croce is finally comfortable with that name.
“I wanted my own identify and I wanted to do the music that felt natural to me,” Croce said by phone from his home in Nashville. Croce, the son of the late singer/songwriter Jim Croce (“Time in a Bottle,” “I’ve Got a Name,” “Operator”) will perform a concert, “Two Generations of American Music” May 6 at Mayo Civic Center.
“The main idea is to sort of give an overview of the music my father created, the music I created, and the music that influenced both of us,” Croce said.
Croce was not quite 2 years old when his father was killed in 1973 in a plane crash. He obviously inherited his dad’s musical ability, and has had a relatively successful career in music since the early 1990s. He started out in rootsy blues and folk, much like his father did, and gradually moved toward a more pop-oriented style. Of his 2009 album, “Cage of Muses,” the All Music Guide said the record “is further proof that A.J. Croce remains one of the more underrated roots rockers out there.”
So, identity established, it was time for Croce to stop avoiding the songs of his father.
“The first 20 years of my career, I did that,” he said. Finally, it was learning a new instrument that turned Croce, who had always primarily played piano, toward his father’s music.
“I picked up the guitar later,” Croce said. “It wasn’t until I played it for a while that I started to play anything of his. It was fun. I enjoyed it.”
It was the right time in his life and career, Croce said.
“It just started to make sense,” he said. “I had been approached many, many times to play or record his stuff. I turned everything down. Finally, I decided to do it because I love it, not as a money-making scheme.”
Asked if it was a relief to finally take on his father’s music, Croce said, “I think it was really fun.”
From that has come the “Two Generations” show that Croce will present in Rochester.
“I have done a lot in my life, musically, so when one of these shows comes along, I dive into his music in preparation for it,” he said.
That doesn’t preclude Croce playing his own songs, some stretching back nearly 25 years. Nor does it prevent him from trying out a new tune on an audience. “I do that every night,” he said. “Especially now when I’m recording a new album.”
That album, which Croce said will be “soulful,” is due out in 2017.
Until then, he’s recording and touring, and picking up a new instrument here and there and seeing where it takes him. It was taking up guitar, after all, that led Croce back to his father’s music.
“I like trying new instruments, new styles,” he said. “I like to pick up a bass, steel guitar, banjo, harmonium. You get your mind in a different space.”
Then he added, “It’s a luxury doing what I do for a living. I love it.”
What: A.J. Croce in a Riverside Live! concert
When: 7:30 p.m. May 6
Where: Mayo Civic Center Presentation Hall, 30 Civic Center Drive SE, Rochester
Tickets: $26, available at the Riverside Concerts office in City Hall, at the civic center box office, and through Ticketmaster online or by phone at 800-745-3000.