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Puttin' on the RITZ

Adult contemporary superstar Jim Brickman brought romance, musical skill and humor to Jacksonville

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Jim Brickman is full of surprises. This past Friday, March 31 the popular adult contemporary artist played to captivated crowd at The Ritz Theatre in LaVilla. In the lobby before the performance, those attending Brickman’s show were all smiles, sipping beers and cocktails. One couple acknowledged that they came from Atlanta to see Brickman perform and others admitted that they too came to Jacksonville solely for this concert. But while the crowd seemed excited about a night of Brickman’s music, they were also in store for some humorous revelations from the man.

When Brickman took the stage it was only he and a baby grand piano; no multimedia screens or light shows and‑that’s why the fans were there. The first song was perhaps the one that Brickman is most known for: “Rocket to the Moon.” It seemed as if the award-winning composer/pianist and vocalist wanted to get his “hit” out of the way so he could dig deeper into his catalog of tunes.

Yet between his compositions, which Brickman also revealed himself to be quite the raconteur. Years into his career, Brickman explained, he’d decided to song on some of his then-newer songs. “I received several angry letters from massage therapists,” said a deadpan Brickman, alluding to the fact that in the wellness spa his voice was distracting from receiving any soothing bodywork.

He went on to tell the story of how, at the age of five, he begged his parents fro a piano. Instead, they gave the young Brickman a large piece of felt featuring a giant printed keyboard. “I have to say; I got pretty good on that felt,” said Brickman with a grin.

But the biggest surprise, especially as Brickman is known as an adult contemporary, New Age maestro was the stories of his earliest concerts. He explaining that at one point, his mom became the concert reviewer for a local paper in Indiana. She decided to take Brickman to as many shows as possible. They’d see symphonic shows but mostly they went to pop and rock shows together. While he and his mom saw much then-standard fare, like The Carpenters and Kenny Rogers, Brickman also admitted that he witnesses shows by two of the founders of hard rock and metal: Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

If nothing else, if Brickman tires of his decades-long success as delivering romantic melodies, there’s always the possibility of playing keyboard with a reunited Deep Purple.

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