Archive for December, 2012
This AWESOME, all-encompasing interview appeared on the CALL ME ADAM blog. Everything you ever wanted to know about The Midtown Men…and then some!
1. Who or what inspired you to become performers?
J. Robert Spencer: Steve Martin and Johnny Carson were actually a big influence on me as far as comedians and as entertainers. I wanted to do what they were doing. Making people laugh and have a good time. Now I get to do that along with my other love, which is 60′s Rock And Roll.
Christian Hoff: I remember being kinda shy but having a great imagination and loved to pretend and loved music. I also loved being physical. I loved sports and riding my bike and running around and singing and dancing. When I got onstage for the first time and found that I could have all those things and be a storyteller too…I was hooked. I started pursuing every opportunity I could find to just do it. A reluctant but unwavering ham.
Michael Longoria: My mom sang in a band when I was growing up, so it started there watching those late night rehearsals. After that, Ritchie Valenz. The first song I ever sang for a public audience was “Oh Donna.”
Daniel Reichard: My first (and truest) idol that inspired me to do what I do (the way that I like to do it) was Steve Martin. I loved movies like The Jerk and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. Most especially, I would watch his appearances on Saturday Night Live, and his television specials. His work as a comic actor, especially in the 70s and 80s, was exceptional…He was dashing but the joke was always on him.
2. Who haven’t you worked with that you would like to?
J. Robert Spencer: I would love to do a play one day with Jeff Daniels.
Christian Hoff: Christopher Nolan as a director would be a great opportunity to couple a real life perspective with larger than life circumstances. Something I have always been drawn to as a person and an actor.
Michael Longoria: Stephen Sondheim…I’ve always been a huge fan of his work. Stephen, write me a song will ya???
Daniel Reichard: I love great directors…I’ve worked with a few–George C. Wolfe, Des McAnuff, among others. I would love to work with Susan Stroman and Graziella Danielle, among others.
3. You all starred in “Jersey Boys” together on Broadway, which I was fortunate enough to see. Looking back, what was the best part about starring together in this show?
J. Robert Spencer: Being able to say that we are a part of history by being one of the Original Stars, forevermore, in one of the biggest hits of all time!
Christian Hoff: The experience of having a character tailored to you was incomparable. Your essence and timing and inflection stamped forever in a script as brilliant as it is raw, like Marshall Brickman and Rick Elices. Having your performance shape a legendary production and then be recognized for your contribution, unforgettable and glorious. We all like to be liked and seek to be somehow indispensable in our lives and work. Now the molds they made with us are allowing other actors to explore themselves in our shoes, much like I did filling the shoes of the one and only Tommy DeVito.
Michael Longoria: Knowing that the four of us had each other at every moment. I never felt lost on the journey of the play cause the connection was so raw and real.
Daniel Reichard: Oh wow, there is so much to think about here. We were very lucky to grow together and discover both good and bad realities of show business in the center of this huge Broadway success. I did JERSEY BOYS for two years and three months, and it felt like we were the toast of the town the entire time. With that success came sacrifices and rewards, and we got to experience all of those things together.
3a. What made you want to continue on as The Midtown Men?
J. Robert Spencer: Being our own bosses, and running things our way!
Christian Hoff: A sublime addiction to the power of mixing dynamic personalities, sound and storytelling like we learned to do together led me back to the guys and our ability to do what we love most, entertain and share something great with each other and our audiences. The entertainers’ life, lived out to the fullest.
Michael Longoria: We continued getting requests to sing together and it felt good to keep the magic we created together in Jersey Boys going, especially with our debut album as The Midtown Men. We wanted to show what our sound could do on songs recorded by the other pop groups that sang in the same era as the group we portrayed on stage.
Daniel Reichard: Now it’s very similar with The Midtown Men; we are going on the rocket ride together all over again. We spend time away from our friends and family, we meet incredible fans, we do exciting shows, and we are STILL learning so much.
3b. How has your relationship strengthened over the years?
J. Robert Spencer: On Broadway you have separate dressing rooms to hide in IF you’re annoyed at one of your cast mates. When you’re side by side on the road as much as we are, you can’t hide and if you are having an issue with anyone on the team, you have to Man up, speak your mind, and try to do it as respectfully as sensitively as you can. Honesty is the only key to success and a stress free environment and we’ve all been really good at balancing that…and it’s made us stronger.
Christian Hoff: Our relationship has strengthened in love and commitment. It’s sort of like a family business whose success and sacrifice refines the bond and raises the stakes.
Michael Longoria: I think we know each other very well. We share hundreds of stages across America and every audience that come to see us sing leave knowing our friendship. That comes from being stuck on a 5 hr road trip to the next city!
Daniel Reichard: Our relationship strengthens every week…We thought we knew each other THEN, but boy do we know each other now. We have a brotherhood, and with all we have been through together, it is a sacred connection between us.
4. You’ve recently released your debut album as “The Midtown Men” called “Sixties Hits.” What excites you about this release?
J. Robert Spencer: That we did it our way all the way!
Christian Hoff: The music from our live show that made the album was distilled down through politics and passion. We wanted to capture the love and respect we have for one another and this incredible decade of music and give people a way to take the excitement and energy home with them.
Michael Longoria: That people get to hear us sing outside the box of being a character. In Jersey Boys I let Frankie Valli’s recordings and his video taped performances influence how I used my voice to portray his life and music…with the album I get to sing these songs how I would approach them. We get to reinvent them a little and spread it to groups like the Mamas and Papas.
Daniel Reichard: Well, this album really reflects our first year and a half on the road. It is a time capsule for this period of our lives. We had just enough time to record some of the highlights of our show in the midst of a busy touring schedule. Most importantly, we funded, produced, distributed, and conceived this album ourselves. We love how we show what “The Midtown Men Sound” is…I always say, it’s great driving, treadmill, and making dinner music.
4b. What is it about this time in music that made you want to keep on singing it?
J. Robert Spencer: Because this era of music is universal and timeless.
Christian Hoff: No other decade of music has captured machismo and vulnerability like the Sixties did. It is dream to bring it to live every time we step up to the mic.
Michael Longoria: The men at that time really knew how to bare their souls on a song. I learn a lot from listening to those recordings, many of them done on a few takes.
5. What do you enjoy most about traveling the country on tour?
J. Robert Spencer: I love seeing America. I love meeting the people. I love playing these historic venues.
Christian Hoff: I enjoy the people.
Michael Longoria: Dominos Pizza!
Daniel Reichard: We have played big cities, small towns, and everything in between. It’s been fascinating to get a comprehensive tour of our country. We have played cities I would never have imagined visiting –Galveston, TX, Lafayette, LA, Cedar Rapids, IA and dozens and dozens of other cities and towns. I have loved gaining a broader perspective of the country. We are a little sheltered, a little “inside a bubble” in NYC, and it’s been refreshing. The fact that we get unanimous ovations at the end of our shows no matter where we are tells me are still in the game. We sign every autograph and take every picture after every show–It sometimes takes over an hour, but it is worth it. It is our way of thanking our audiences.
5a. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending your concerts?
J. Robert Spencer: A big smile.
Christian Hoff: A shared experience that is unforgettable and unique.
Michael Longoria: Joy, memories, and a soar throat!
Daniel Reichard: We are giving it our all, and our audiences give us their energy back.
J. Robert Spencer: To originally start as 4 guys around a piano…to 4 guys with an 85 piece orchestra backing them?!? We were SO thrilled! Top of the world!
Christian Hoff: It was like wearing a new suit, with a vintage tie.
Michael Longoria: Huge accomplishment as performers, singers, entrepreneurs, and best friends.
Daniel Reichard: The Houston Symphony was PHENOMENAL. What a milestone for us. We were blown away by Jones Hall, and the 85 talented musicians that backed us onstage. It was surreal but it felt right. The response was exciting and sincere. We have symphony performances ahead of us in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Omaha.
7. You also made an appearance on Good Morning America this summer. What did you enjoy most about that?
J. Robert Spencer: Showing off The Midtown Men to millions of viewers! Also, the energy, excitement, and love for what we do and what we have accomplished as artists!
Christian Hoff: We reached 4.5 million new fans in an hour and had a blast just doing our thing.
Michael Longoria: Getting introduced to the nation as the Midtown Men.
Daniel Reichard: Again, Good Morning America was a milestone. It was great being on the Today Show when we were in JERSEY BOYS, but this felt so much more gratifying because the four of us, with our incredible team, got us to this occasion. We were on a ton that morning, and it was a great adventure.
J. Robert Spencer: That being a performer is where I am most comfortable.
Christian Hoff: Humility and pride are both necessary. You must be strong willed and teachable at the same time.
Michael Longoria: How to maintain the gift in the hardest of circumstances and the coldest and driest of climates. The show must always go on.
Daniel Reichard: You learn that our friendships are like our performances. You have to give effort and you have to learn to receive thanks. You have to be quiet and still sometimes, and other times you have to take the lead. You have to respect your audience and you have to respect your colleagues.
9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
J. Robert Spencer: Whiskey and beer never fear…beer and whiskey now that’s risky!
Christian Hoff: Be yourself.
Michael Longoria: Don’t push. And don’t tank up on air…thanks Joan Lader
Daniel Reichard: See this opportunity through!
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be?
J. Robert Spencer: It would be wonderful to dream and visit with my great, great, great, great, grandfather and grandmother.
Christian Hoff: God.
Michael Longoria: My honey boo boo child.
Daniel Reichard: It would probably be Call Me, Adam
11. Favorite way to spend your day off?
J. Robert Spencer: With my family.
Christian Hoff: Watching the kids play outside, my wife and I watching and sharing a drink and something good to eat.
Michael Longoria: Rosa Mexicano.
Daniel Reichard: I love walking my French Bulldog, Boscoe, through my neighborhood in downtown Manhattan, stopping into shops, and drinking iced lattes.
J. Robert Spencer: Stretching on yoga ball.
Christian Hoff: Crossfit.
Michael Longoria: Not going to Rosa Mexicano
Daniel Reichard: You gotta mix it up. I love lifting weights, doing sprints on the treadmill or bike, and when I’m really strong, I swim laps.
13. Boxers or Briefs?
J. Robert Spencer: Hugo Boss Briefs!
Christian Hoff: Calvin Klein Boxer-Briefs.
Michael Longoria: It depends on how hot the party after the show is
Daniel Reichard: Briefs. There’s no choice. That’s the way it needs to be.
14. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?
J. Robert Spencer: To FLY!
Christian Hoff: Healing Factor like Wolverine or Jesus.
Michael Longoria: Flying.
Daniel Reichard: To fly, because I’m getting so sick of sitting on planes.
Click here to visit the Call Me Adam website to read complete bios of The Men.
The Midtown Men will remind you of a time when vocal melody reigned supreme, love took center stage, and showmanship was a natural byproduct.
What a spot-on description of The Midtown Men by a BWW Music World.com writer – a writer who has obviously experienced first-hand what audiences in Sarasota and Naples, FL will experience this weekend….A little Midtown Men Love center-stage on Florida’s Gulf Coast!
Click here for tickets to tonight’s show at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota.
Click here for tickets to Saturday night’s show at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples.
The Midtown Club is offering a pair of concert tickets to The Midtown Men’s upcoming shows in Joliet, IL and Scranton, PA. All you have to do is join the STREET CREW!
As a Crew member, you’ll be asked to post flyers around town for the show, share concert information on Facebook (and anywhere else you can think of) to spread the word. Leave a comment to this post letting me know you’re interested and I’ll be in touch!
Friday, January 11 … Rialto Square Theatre … Joliet, IL
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, January 18-20 … Scranton Cultural Center … Scranton, PA
Along with the concert tickets, crew members will also receive an exclusive Midtown Club keychain, STREET CREW stickers and a picture to have autographed after the show.
Join today – The Midtown Men LOVE their STREET CREW!
Category: STREET CREW
This fantastic review of “All Alone On Christmas” on the myfizzypop blog is so much fun – a MUST READ! Thank you Paul!
11 days til Christmas: The Midtown Men ~ All Alone on Christmas
Posted by Paul on December 14, 2012
There is so much joy and goodness wrapped in today’s festive song choice that I’m positively percolating at the seasonal charm of it all! There are 2 lots of background you need to be aware of – most importantly of course are The Midtown Men themselves. The four fellas who make up this sixties music loving group are original stars from the massive stage smash “Jersey Boys” – Christian, Michael, Daniel and J.Robert were busy earning accolades when the show first hit Broadway when they decided they loved what they were doing so much that they wanted it to continue. Lucky for us that meant keeping the whole gang together to continue their loving tribute to the sounds that shaped pop music today in the form of the Midtown Men. They have a sparkling album of music out already (see iTunes) delving into the catalogues of The Beach Boys, Mamas & Papas, The Turtles, the Four Seasons (of course) & many more. Their voices are utterly irresistable, the harmonies delicious and the delivery passionate, enthusiastic and vibrant. Plus! As their website proudly proclaims, they are all dressed rather nattily in suits from Hugo Boss so you know they are devastatingly debonair!
But what does this all have to do with Christmas I hear you ask (yes even you at the back. I have very good hearing, though crap eyesight!) Well, the blokes have only gone and recorded the amazing Stevie van Zandt penned All Alone On Christmas (which you may well remember featuring prominently – and sung by Darlene Love – in Home Alone 2 and Love, Actually). The original is a rousing, horn infused romp that pays tribute to both the Spector sound of the sixties as well as Darlene’s own Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). The joyous, uplifting instrumental takes the sting out of the lyrics which detail a couple no longer together & the sounds of the season making the split oh so much harder. Weep. The Midtown Men put their own definitive spin on the track with a jingle-bell soundtracked intro that puts out their emotive please that, of course, no one ought to be alone on Christmas. It then launches into a percussive, chime laden, horn saturated backing that acts as the perfect picture frame for their story telling – and oh boy, those voices bring the lyrics into vibrant, vivid focus. Their layered harmonies give the track a heavenly, sumptuous textured feel while individually they ably inject a real pathos, wistfulness yet sense of optimism into the proceedings. It’s these nuanced performances that are both powerful individually & together that make the track such a magnificent success. Their marriage of downbeat lyrics and upbeat instrumental ultimately inspire hope that wherever you are, whoever you are with, people will find a way to share the joy at Christmas. Gorgeous.
The Midtown Men are no strangers to rock n roll. After all, Christian Hoff was in the original cast of The Who’s TOMMY, and J. Robert Spencer was fabulous in Handel’s Messiah Rocks. And of course they have each participated in Rockers on Broadway at one time or another. So it should come as no surprise that the Men would team up with a veteran rocker to produce a record. But who would have imagind that the “veteran rocker” would be the legendary “Little Stevie” Van Zandt of E-Street Band fame? Well, Sandy Hicks…that’s who!
I first heard of Sandy’s desire to pair The Midtown Men with Steven when the idea was still in its infancy, and I remember thinking “Wow, that could be something very special!” The result of that pairing is The Men’s first Christmas single, ‘All Alone On Christmas’ which was written and produced by Steven Van Zandt. And special it is!
For long-time supporters of The Midtown Men (Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Roberts Spencer), the finished product is the icing on the cake. Those dedicated friends and fans who know the importance of every accomplishment, however large or small, know that the story behind the song is nearly as exciting as the song itself. So for those of you who fall into that category, I collected some thoughts from the Men and from Sandy, to give you a “behind the scenes” look at ‘All Alone On Christmas.’
Sandy Hicks (whose long list of credits include Manager to Kate Taylor, Producer of Rockers on Broadway, longtime friend of Maureen and Steven Van Zandt, and most importantly to this story, dear friend and advocate of The Midtown Men) shared a little background information with me. “For years I dreamed of the guys working with a top producer and my big dream was Stevie, who I know, love and admire so much and whose style is pure rock and so respectful of the era and its artists. But with his nuts schedule I knew it would be hard if not impossible to ever make happen. He is busy every second and is surely not looking for more work! With Bruce (Springsteen), his TV show, his new feature film and The Rascals reunion, he’s flat out 24/7.”
“I was on the phone with Christian in July, talking about some new recording ideas when, suddenly, an idea popped into my head, just like Gaudio in Jersey Boys. ‘What about a Christmas song?’ I asked Christian, and then began yakking nonstop about the concept and how great I thought it was for them and, more importantly, how I had a song — a fabulous song — that could make my whole crazy dream come true.”
Sandy enlisted the help of Steven’s wife Maureen, who was already a fan of the Men, and who the Men describe as “a truly incredible woman.” Maureen then (according to Stevie) “bugged me until I agreed to consider meeting the guys.”
Christian, Daniel, Bobby and Michael were so excited to hear that Sandy and Maureen had succeeded in setting up a meeting. “We sat down with Stevie for an hour or two in his office in Greenwich Village, getting to know each other. We hit it off perfectly, told him our story, and listened to his various thoughts on the music industry, being an entrepreneur, and The Midtown Men’s potential.”
Stevie was familiar with the Men, having been at the “glorious opening night of Jersey Boys,” but once he met them, he says “I was screwed. I liked them way too much to allow such a small thing as NO FRICKIN’ TIME! to dissuade me.”
Needless to say, the Men were “over-the-moon” to hear a few weeks later that Stevie decided that he would produce a holiday single of one of his classic songs for The Midtown Men. After some calendar studying, they found two days that they were all free from their tours, and they set up the studio time and began work on their masterpiece.
For those unfamiliar with the original version of ‘All Alone On Christmas,’ it was recorded by Darlene Love for the movie “Home Alone 2″, and I was curious about the transformation of the song from a solo to a quartet piece. “The exciting part of the creation of this song” the Men explained, “was that Stevie arranged it with us the morning we started recording. We had our input but Stevie was driving the car. He had some great ideas going into the session and we just went with it. Imagine our excitement and nerves pulling something like this together in such a short time.”
“Stevie is a true inspiration to us” was the response. “Despite all he has accomplished throughout his career, his achievements continue. It was humbling for us to work with a man who has seen so much and continues to thrive in an ever-evolving world. He is an authentic artist and holds himself and his collaborators up to high standards, so whenever we are around him, we do our best to honor his work ethic.”
The experience must have been equally rewarding for Mr. Van Zandt, for he had this to say about the Men “…they have conquered the recording studio the same way they took Broadway. The Midtown Men have arrived.”
I asked the Men what they take away from this awesome experience. “Our story, if we do say so ourselves, has many interesting chapters. We have seen and experienced some incredible things during our seven years of working together. This experience was both an encouragement and a validation for the hard work we put into our business and our music. Recording with Stevie and his fabulous network of musicians is now a part of our story, and it feels great. This is definitely a major highlight thus far.”
You can share in this experience by purchasing your own CD, complete with ornament and decorative case, either at a show or online.
The Midtown Men would love for their fans to post about the song online. “Let’s get the word out on this song and raise more money for the Red Cross. All downloads go directly to Hurricane Sandy relief programs.”
Thank you to Sandy Hicks, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, Michael Longoria and Bobby Spencer for sharing your amazing story with us!
*quotes attributed to Steven Van Zandt were taken from the cover of “All Alone On Christmas.”
Tickets went on sale today, December 17th, for The Midtown Men in Scranton, PA! And the best news of all, The Men will play FIVE shows at the Scranton Cultural Center from January 18th to 20th, giving everyone in the Scranton and surrounding areas ample opportunity to see the show!
Pick the day and time that’s best for you… I bet you’ll come back for more! Visit the Ticketmaster page here to purchase your tickets.
Friday, January 18 @ 8:00
Saturday, January 19 @ 2:00 and 8:00
Sunday, January 20 @ 1:00 and 6:00
Category: The MUSIC
The Midtown Men grace the Access Hollywood Live stage with their rendition of Stevie Van Zandt’s “All Alone On Christmas.” The song is available on iTunes now, and proceeds will go to The American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief.