Jim Croce, Rob and his pastor dad

Durban’s Rob Warren, of the versatile The Black Lapels band, performs an acoustic tribute to Jim Croce with his father, Bruce. Catch them at Pietermaritzburg’s Rhumbelow Theatre, at the Allan Wilson shellhole, at 2pm and 6.30pm on Sunday, October 29. Book by calling Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636. Picture by GKF Photography.

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STAGE: A Tribute to Jim Croce – Rhumbelow Theatre, Allan Wilson shellhole, Pietermaritzburg
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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IT IS not often of late that versatile Durban singer-guitarist Rob Warren gets to perform solo and unplugged, much of his time being spent as a core component of his ubiquitous Black Lapels tribute band.

The trio – also featuring Rob’s bassist brother, Garth, and drummer Gareth Gale – has built up quite a following with shows at the Rhumbelow theatres; salutes to Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival and, more recently, Paul Simon.

For his tribute to the music and memories of Jim Croce, Rob flies solo and with low-fuss, offering great entertainment that has his audience in the grip of his hands as he recalls falling in love with Croce’s music as a 12-year-old, when his pastor father, Bruce, introduced him to a cassette tape of the American’s hits.

Croce was a singer-songwriter who cut his first album in 1966 – resulting in 500 copies being released using a $500 wedding gift from his parents. Those parents had hoped their son would release an album, get music out of his system and then pursue what they labelled as a more “respectable” career, as Wikipedia puts it.

However, music was in the blood of Philadelphia-born, Italian-American Jim Croce…  and after all 500 copies of that early album, Facets, were sold, he went on to carve a name for himself in music history, releasing five studio albums and a string of singles before his untimely death in a plane crash.

The folk-rock singer was popular between 1966 and 1973, and topped the Billboard charts twice – with Time in a Bottle and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. His other hits included You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, I’ll Have to Say I Love You in and I Got a Name.

Jim Croce.

All these songs and more crop up in A Tribute to Jim Croce, a show that opens with I Got a Name, Photographs and Memories and Next Time This Time, before Bruce arrives on stage to join his youngest son for renditions of Working at the Car Wash Blues, New York’s Not My Home, One Less Set of Footsteps, and the amusing Roller Derby Queen. It’s a nice touch, the two sharing memories of growing up with music on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast,

Bruce then leaves the stage and Rob performs Operator before the interval.

The second half opens with Rob, alone, delivering Alabama Rain, Lovers Cross, Waitng For Lightning and two of my Croce favourites, I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song and the poignant Time in a Bottle.

Dad and son then share the spotlight for You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, Rapid Roy and Croce’s most popular hit, Bad Leroy Brown.

“Jim Croce’s music leaves me with a deep sense of nostalgia and comfort, and I am looking so forward to sharing these stories,” says Rob.

Croce died on September 20, 1973, at the age of 30, the day before his I Got a Name single was released.

Wikipedia reports that he was among six people killed when their chartered plane crashed into a pecan tree, while taking off from a Louisiana airport.  Others who died in the crash, the website reports, were pilot Robert Elliott, musician Maury Muehleisen,  comedian George Stevens, manager and booking agent Kenneth Cortose and road manager Dennis Rast.

Croce had just completed a concert in Natchitoches and was flying to Sherman, Texas, for a concert at Austin College, when the plane crashed.

Tickets for A Tribute to Jim Croce cost R150 each. Seating at the Pietermaritzburg Rhumbelow Theatre is at tables of six, and drinks and snacks are available (try the yummy pancakes). Booking is at Computicket outlets or by phoning Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.


2 thoughts on “Jim Croce, Rob and his pastor dad

  1. No chance of them performing this in Durban in December?

    Anne

    Anne Schauffer

    freelance journalist * copywriter * editor

    15 Catterick Road

    Berea Durban Kwazulu-Natal South Africa

    4001

    +27 31 2095841

    +825539389

    skype anne.schauffer1

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