Archive for September, 2011
In anticipation of The Midtown Men’s Thursday night concert at The Heymann Center in Lafayette, LA, Christian Hoff chatted with KPEL’s “Mornings With Ken & Bernie”, and Steve Wiley of 99.9 KTDY radio spoke with Daniel Reichard and Michael Longoria.
The Men responded with: “Having a song from one of our albums on the radio will be amazing…Is there a particular track from The Midtown Men: Sixties Hits you’re all diggin’? Tell us and absolutely tell your favorite station, deejay and music editor.”
Let’s do it – let’s get The Men on the air! Tell us which song YOU think we should campaign for, and why. If anyone knows the ins and outs of getting a song played on the air, let’s hear from you as well. If we all work together, we can get this done!
**click on “Comments” under the title of this post to add your comment. If you’d like to reply to someone else’s comment, click “Reply” in their comment ‘box’. It’s easy and fun…I’ve already gotten it started
The Midtown Men, four stars from the original cast of the Jersey Boys, visited patients and staff at PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick. Patients and families enjoyed a personal visit and a few songs from The Midtown Men as they toured the hospital. The Midtown Men are the entertainment for this year’s Umbrella Gala, October 29, 2011 at the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial of New Jersey in Trenton and the group has just released their debut album: The Midtown Men: Sixties Hits, featuring classic songs from the 1960s. “Our visit to PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital was both inspiring and fun,” said Daniel Reichard, a member of the Midtown Men. “The staff, the parents, and most especially the kids showed us what amazing things are happening at this very special place. I spent a lot of time in a children’s hospital throughout my young life and our time at Children’s Specialized reminded me how important this work is to so many families.” The event will celebrate New Jersey as this year’s attire is Jersey fabulous. Have fun with it; dress as your favorite decade, Jersey-style, or just for a fun night out on the town. The event is not black-tie. For tickets, information or sponsorships call 908-301-5457, visit http://forchildrens.org or email Marry Harris, CSHF special events coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Midtown Men, who rose to fame in original Broadway ‘Jersey Boys,’ share their love of ’60s music
BY Ira Kantor
SPECIAL TO THE DAILY NEWS
Thursday, September 22nd 2011, 4:00 AM
The Midtown Men sound as crisp as their Rat Pack-inspired suits. Their voices blend together so flawlessly on stage, in fact, even music maestro Paul Anka couldn’t believe his ears when he saw them live in Montana.
“He said, ‘So are you guys using Pro Tools?’ I said, ‘No, we’re not using Pro Tools,’ and he goes, ‘You’re not using Pro Tools?’ I said, ‘No, man, that’s all live,’” says group member J. Robert Spencer, 42.
“He was like, ‘You’re kidding.’ I go, ‘No, I’m not kidding, man. That’s live. We’re not going to do that. We sing live … that’s all live.’”
“There are so many bands that go out there with tracks and supporting tracks and with Auto-tuning. You’d be amazed at how many people have grown accustomed to that so it sounds like the record. What we do is we sound real,” adds group member and Christian Hoff, 43.
“That’s what we want. We want to sound like the record because we want to sound real.”
Authenticity is the core of this musical brotherhood, which also features vocalists Michael Longoria and Daniel Reichard. Performing everywhere from state fairs, to performing arts centers, to Katie Couric’s 50th birthday party, these four best friends — who starred in the original production of the Broadway smash “Jersey Boys” — stamp their own imprint on timeless ’60s tunes by such iconic groups as the Beach Boys, Beatles, and the Mamas and the Papas.
Although each member says they’ve thrived artistically from more than 1,000 performances of “Jersey Boys,” they make clear audiences seeing them perform as the Midtown Men will not be seeing a reproduction of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
“It was almost inevitable that we would need to align ourselves once again, not only to get the thrill of what it was we created but to keep that love going, and that’s really what this is about,” said Hoff, who won a Tony for his portrayal of Four Season Tommy DeVito.
“Of four guys absolutely in love with the ’60s, we’ve become ambassadors to an era that … musically is unparalleled. …This music is resonating not only within us and with each other but with audiences that we take it to, and that’s a thrill that is actually eclipsing “Jersey Boys,” if that is possible.”
The Midtown Men are also thrilled to leave their audiences with something even more memorable, their first album. “Sixties Hits” is 32-minutes of enthusiastic and spirited takes of golden oldies, including The Drifters’ “Up on the Roof,” The Turtles’ “Happy Together” and The Zombies’ “Time of the Season.”
Group members say they found their true voices producing and mixing the album themselves over several months in a New York studio.
“We only got better,” said Michael Longoria, 29, who played Joe Pesci and later Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys.”
“I’ve always pictured myself as somebody who had an old school voice in the contemporary time. So to be able to sing that kind of music again and then to give life to it, it’s special because I’ve always felt, well, I have this old school voice but nobody’s writing this kind of music anymore. But now people want to hear it so I have an opportunity to really utilize what I have.”
“What’s really amazing about it … was we wanted the album to really reflect the kind of love and passion that we feel about this catalogue of music,” said Daniel Reichard, 33, who played Bob Gaudio.
“We wanted to almost control every part of the process artistically so that when it was done and we sell it to people and we give it to our friends and we present it to the industry, we’re saying this is a reflection of who we are and how we feel about this music and how we want us to sound doing this music.”
Retaining their independence, the Midtown Men have official say in everything from choreography to merchandise. Just don’t call this democracy a cover band.
“I’ve been in cover bands. I’ve been to the bars and the basement parties and stuff — that’s a cover band. This just isn’t,” said Spencer, a Tony-nominee for his portrayal of Dan Goodman in “Next to Normal.”
“When we do those songs, they’re our songs. Other people wrote them; other people have had them on vinyl for over 40 years and it belongs to them totally, but when it’s on our stage, it belongs to us. We feel it in our hearts and we really feel it in our souls.”
“When we perform now I get the same thrill, the same rush that I got on Broadway portraying Tommy DeVito,” Hoff said. “That same thrill of that Tony-winning show and my Tony-winning performance is even more exciting now because it’s not a character that I’m playing. I’m myself living the dream.”
A second album is already being discussed, but, the singers say, they won’t measure their success by CD sales.
“We pick some great songs and arrangements and we’ve entertained them all night, and they want to take that home. It’s thrilling,” Spencer said.
“So it’s not about getting on the album charts. If some company wants to come in, listen to our CD, and say, let’s do something with it, that’s awesome. That would be amazing to have that conversation one day. But right now it’s really [about] the fans, giving them what they want. And they want the Midtown Men.”
YOU SHOULD KNOW
The Midtown Men perform 8 p.m. Saturday at the Hugh Kirwan Performing Arts Center, 68-02 Metropolitan Ave., Middle Village. Tickets are $50 and $55. For more information call (718) 423-8394 or visit themidtownmen.com.
Midtown Men bring 1960s back
By Stacy Nick StacyNick@coloradoan.com
Christian Hoff may be California born and bred but to the rest of the world, he’ll always be a Jersey Boy.
“We knew right away that we were part of something very special and that these roles were larger than life,” said Hoff, who was one of the original four from the Broadway hit musical tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, “Jersey Boys.” “People just identify with each of us as these characters.”
Now Hoff is getting a bit of déjà vu from his new role with his “Jersey Boys” co-horts Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony Award nominee J. Robert Spencer as The Midtown Men.
“Now it’s like we’re doing what we pretended to do as Jersey Boys,” Hoff said. Rather than portraying a vocal foursome entertaining thousands of fans, the Midtown Men are a vocal foursome performing hits from the 1950s and ’60s. The group will bring its show to Lincoln Center Saturday as part of the venue’s grand re-opening celebration.
“Sometimes we really have to pinch ourselves,” said Hoff, who put his voice to work in cartoons and audio books (he holds the Guinness World Record for most voice characters in a single audio book with a whopping 241 for “Tell Me How You Love the Picture”), before hitting it big with “Jersey Boys.” “We knew we were on to something really special but we had no idea the rocket ride that it was going to be.”
Hoff began acting at the age of 8, performing with the San Diego Junior Theater. Later he got bit parts on television but it was on the stage where he really was making a name for himself. In 2005 he was cast as one of the original “Jersey Boys. ” The show quickly took off, earning numerous Tony Awards; meanwhile, on their off hours the Boys would practice singing other songs from the era. What started as just having some fun in the dressing rooms soon became a new career path.
The four were asked to perform at various events, including Katie Couric’s 50th birthday and the Yankees’ Joe Torre. After wrapping up more than 1,000 performances on Broadway run, they stepped down from their formal “Jersey Boys” roles and did several shows as “The Boys in Concert”; after legal action from the show’s creators, the “Boys” became “Men,” booking tours of their own and even recording a CD. “The Midtown Men: Sixties Hits” was released last month.
Choosing songs from such prolific musical eras wasn’t easy, Hoff said. Each of the Men had a hand in picking songs that fit their vocal stylings and would resonate with audiences.
“We didn’t set out to just be a tribute act or just bank on hits from the ’60s,” Hoff said. “We wanted to do something different; put our own spin on these timeless songs.
“We feel this is our music as much as the original artists because of that investment,” he added.
So how does a guy who wasn’t even born until 1968, find his voice there?
I started getting into ’60s music when I was in high school, said Hoff, who alternated the Beatles with Boston and Frankie Valli with Van Halen.
“My friends thought it was weird but that era really resonated with me,” he said. ”It had everything — from the British invasion to folk to psychedelic. There’s something so deep and diverse about this music, you can really live in it and it’s like a full-course meal.”
As for why audiences are responding so well to the era’s music now, Hoff said it’s a sound that just never really went away.
“These songs are as strong now as ever — they’re even better than any contemporary songs that we could find now,” he said. “Again, it’s that diversity. Whether you’re a clean cut “Mad Men” type or into the social change aspect … there’s something for everybody.”
The Midtown Men aim to celebrate all of that diversity. Their Rat Pack-styled shows include a mix of stories mixed with songs from Motown to the Beach Boys to the Beatles; right now the Men are even working on a segment of girl group songs, and while Hoff doesn’t want to divulge too much about the new set he said it will honor some great songs that the Men felt they could pull off “without putting on dresses.”
But who knows? The Midtown Women might just be the next big thing.
Former ‘Jersey Boys’ go all-American
Midtown Men bring ’60s music to Lincoln Center on cross-country tour
By Joyce Davis Special to the Reporter-Herald
Posted: 09/09/2011 04:03:08 PM MDT
It’s a sunny Saturday outside a local diner in Huntingdon, Tenn. Michael Longoria, J. Robert Spencer, Christian Hoff and Daniel Reichard have finished breakfast and are posing for photo-snapping fans, who will take in their musical tribute to the ’60s that night. It’s one of the group’s stops on their way to Fort Collins to celebrate the Lincoln Center’s grand opening Sept. 17.
In a phone interview, Longoria says the Midtown Men’s cross-country tour is defining. “We’re like the soundtrack of America; that’s what the journey means to us.”
The four definitely have bragging rights to their jump and jive all-American ’60s sound that includes top hits from The Beatles, Beach Boys and Temptations. Featured in the original Broadway cast of “The Jersey Boys,” the four brought life to the iconic story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons for nearly 1,000 performances.
Following “Jersey Boys,” the four played benefits and private parties, honing a harmony of their own and blending their individual personalities. As the Midtown Men, they’re finishing up a 70-city national tour and celebrating the release of their first CD, “The Midtown Men: Sixties Hits.”
“It’s been great to sing outside the show,” says Longoria, who originated* the Frankie Valli role. “Now we’re able to sing our favorites from that rock era the way we want to. In ‘Jersey Boys’ I was playing Frankie, which is very different from the real Michael Longoria. Now, all the facade is taken away and stripped down to who I am as a performer. We’re all very different from the roles we played on Broadway. Now we’re off the cuff and having a lot of fun doing it our way.”
Longoria and Spencer credit their moms for their love of rock ‘n’ roll. “I’m thankful my mom played the oldies,” Longoria says. ”I think the music from the ’60s had it all. The melody made you jump and move around and the lyrics told a story that spoke to you about life and love.”
For Spencer, it brings memories of a young boy in Texas. ” My mom couldn’t afford a sitter, so she took me everywhere in the car and let me listen to anything I wanted on the radio. I always chose the classic station and to this day, I hear a certain song and I’m back in that yellow station wagon. I think the same thing happens when people hear us. These songs connect people all over the world.”
Longoria tells of performing recently in Arkansas. “We walk out on stage and the first person I see is a 9-year-old boy holding our CD, wearing a Midtown Men hat and singing every word from ‘Working My Way Back to You.’ That tells me the music still crosses all ages.”
The Midtown Men take the audience back to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll. “We’re exploring a repertoire of music that maintains the same energy that was there when the songs were written,” Longoria says. “We go out on that stage and we feel as timeless as the songs.”
Spencer is thrilled to explore the genre. “I love what Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young did. They were so eclectic and we try to be that way in our show. These were great bands exploring a new kind of music with no boundaries, no rules. They were free to re-invent and write music with their own personality and passion — all with a twist.
“We try to do that in our concerts. We do some Mamas and the Papas and a great Motown medley that brings the house down. That’s what it’s all about. We were blessed to work on Broadway, and now we’re blessed to have the opportunity to rejoin each other and do our own thing, our own way, on our own time.”
Longoria says his story is akin to living a real-life ’60s song. “I’m from California and at 17 I had a scholarship to NYU. I was scared to death, but I thought if I didn’t jump at the chance to make music my life then I never would,” he says. ”I was a young, delusional teen with dreams bigger than myself that eventually came true.”
The Midtown Men are delighted to kick off the Lincoln Center’s grand opening. “It will be an amazing thing to put on the first show there,” Longoria says.
Spencer says the music is upbeat and electrifying. “We have so much fun, I can tell you the Fort Collins audience will have smiles on their faces that go from east to west.”
* Michael Longoria actually originated the role of Joe Pesci, later moving into the role of Frankie Valli.
It’s Fan Q & A, where you pose the questions to The Midtown Men.
Q: This question is mainly for the men with families: I know that it’s a given that life in show biz isn’t easy on families, but I’m wondering how the touring is working with those of you (Christian and J. Robert) who have small children. On the one hand, being on Broadway is a set schedule, same time same place every week, but very few full days off; and the tour has you out of town for a week (or more) at a time, but with some full weeks off in between. Can you share a little about how you make it work? (no name)
A: J. Robert Spencer - I actually have more time with my children than when I was on a broadway schedule 8 shows a week. I have to leave for a bit here and there, but I still have plenty of room in my schedule. I guess we’re also blessed with technology, and Skype has been a big help in staying in touch visually with the kids. Thanks, stay in touch. Bobby
e-mail your questions to email@example.com
from The Grand Opera House website:
One Grand Night featuring The Midtown Men
Inaugural Benefit Gala for The Grand Opera House
Join us on Saturday, October 22, for One Grand Night, the Inaugural Benefit Gala featuring The Midtown Men in concert to benefit The Grand Opera House. Four stars from the original cast of Broadway smash ‘Jersey Boys’ will take the stage at The Grand Opera House and croon the night away. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. A silent auction of swank, retro luxury items will be stationed in the Encore Room.
Tickets are $50 for the concert only and $80 for the concert and gala reception
VIP Tickets grant you access to the official Gala Pre-Performance Reception!
click here to purchase tickets
Category: The MUSIC
Wishing you all, but most especially Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer a safe and relaxing Labor Day. A day that, hopefully, The MEN can spend with friends and family, revelling in the success of a week that saw them in five cities, sharing their fabulous 60′s sound with crowds of thousands who loved them!
Here are a few highlights from the week:
From Christian Hoff’s Facebook page:
Nearly two hundred thousand people came out to the fair these days we’ve performed! Today we were the first group to do live performances and interviews on both KSTP Twin Cities Live and KARE Morning Show. Big day and big fun spreading The Midtown Men love! Off to knock our second show out of the park…
…in a tweet from Daniel Reichard:
Amazing shows with the Midtown Men. We have sung for about 20,000 people this week – TN, MS, NY, MN and now California!
It’s Fan Q & A, where you pose the questions to The Men.
Q: Congratulations Men, on the release of your CD. We all look forward to finally bringing your sound home. Now that the CD is available, is there a chance we will be able to hear any of the songs on the radio? Is there a way the fans can initiate airtime, by putting in a song request at the radio stations? Is there a particular song that is a favorite, that you would like to see stand out as a single hit? (from Carolyn)
A: Having a song from one of our albums on the radio will be amazing. For this album, we set out to capture the energy and flow of the live show. That plan didn’t include a targeted radio single. But you never know what can happen with this incredible ride we’re on. We are so proud of our collaboration and growth in the studio. None of us had ever produced a record and it was a blast. We know how we would attack the next one.
Is there a particular track from The Midtown Men: Sixties Hits you’re all diggin’? Tell us and absolutely tell your favorite station, deejay and music editor.
Are the times of making something great happen yourself, a thing of the past?…evidently not! Enjoy the music, spread the love!
e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Category: Q & A