I can’t think of anything better to get us in the holiday spirit than listening to our favorite men singing a Christmas song! And for me, exploring the background of the song makes it doubly exciting.
What a thrill it must have been for Christian, Daniel, Michael and Bobby to work with legendary rock icon “Little Stevie” Van Zandt! For more years than I care to admit, I have been mesmerized by his performances on stage with Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. And who can deny his fabulous portrayal of Silvio on the Sopranos – epic! But as I am doing research on the background of “Stevie” and “All Alone On Christmas”, I am learning so much about the man that he is.
Having school-aged children, and having fought for years the tremendous cuts in public education – most especially in the arts, Steven’s work with Little Kids Rock is near and dear to my heart.
(“…music, and the Arts in general, [in public schools]are not a luxury!” Steven Van Zandt)
How thrilling that, as a direct result of working with Mr. Van Zandt, The Midtown Men had the privilege of joining the Little Kids Rock 10th Anniversary celebration, where Steven Van Zandt was honored with the Big Man of the Year Award.
The following video shows the pure joy of that event for all involved, including The Midtown Men.
Click here to view a terrific interview with Steven before the show.
Whether you download “All Alone On Christmas” (remember, all proceeds from downloads in 2012 will go to the Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief) or purchase the CD (complete with a Midtown Men ornament)you are sure to be put into a Midtown Holiday frame of mind.
‘Jersey Boys’ into ‘The Midtown Men,’ that is.”
Article by Bruce Miller, Sioux City Journal
Asked to sing at the former CBS anchor’s 50th birthday party, four members of the original cast of Broadway’s “Jersey Boys” liked the experience and, says Christian Hoff, the idea of becoming a group “just snowballed from there.”
The four booked several concerts, liked the reaction and figured life as The Midtown Men “would be a side gig until our next Broadway shows,” Hoff says. “But what we set in motion was bigger than we ever expected.”
Now, Hoff, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer and Michael Longoria are so busy they’ve got concert engagements into 2013.
“What we’re doing is eclipsing our experience in ‘Jersey Boys’ — if that was at all possible. We’re living out a dream.”
All four sang as teenagers; two were in bands. Then Broadway entered their lives and acting looked like the chosen profession.
They met in the original cast of “Jersey Boys,” the musical story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Hoff played Tommy DeVito, Reichard played Bob Gaudio and Spencer played Nick Massi. Longoria was originally cast as Joe Pesci, then played Frankie Valli after John Lloyd Young left.
The four played around with other ’60s music during the run of the show. They liked what they heard and decided it would be fun to cover hits from some of the Four Seasons’ competition. The result? A catalog that includes the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Ike and Tina Turner, the Turtles, the Rascals, the Righteous Brothers — you name it.
“We made a choice to do less than 40 percent of our set from either the ‘Jersey Boys’ or Frankie Valli,” Hoff says. “Jersey Boys” producers were concerned they were going to do a Frankie Valli-lite version of the show.
“When the dust settled, they realized this was very different from ‘Jersey Boys.’ The only thing that tied us together was that we were in the show.”
Now, with a CD to their credit, the four are making a name for themselves in a different arena.
“It’s very surreal,” Hoff says. “We’re living out a life and a lifestyle that we once portrayed. You’re entertaining from your toes. You’re not portraying another person.”
People identify with them — not their characters — “and there’s no way to describe that. It’s an entertainer’s dream to live in the moment. It’s connecting to the music, yourself and the story of the song. You use your own life experience as the inspiration.”
While all four have had acting offers (can anyone say “Smash”?), they’ve had to put those opportunities on hold while they pursue this option.
Acting, Hoff says, will definitely be a part of their lives. “I’m very excited about the weight and experience this is giving me in my creative soul. These experiences are shaping my character.”
The Midtown Men’s future will definitely include original music. “We’re breathing new life into old music. What we’d like to do next is put our old sound on new music.”
Classics from the 1950s and 1960s, he says, have influenced artists like Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green and Adele. Competition shows are filled with young singers performing covers. “The music is still alive and well, whether you know it or not,” Hoff says.
And “Jersey Boys”? It keeps chugging along. In addition to selling out on tour, it’s still running on Broadway. Young, in fact, has agreed to return to the show.
Hoff, however, doubts any of the Midtown Men will follow his lead. “My gut instinct, as a group, is that’s a position we’ve outgrown. The phenomenon of ‘Jersey Boys’ lives on in a parallel universe.”
Interestingly, Hoff has never seen the show since leaving it.
“When I left ‘Jersey Boys’ I had been in the shoes of my character for 10 percent of my life — I was 40 and it was four years of my life. To relive it would almost be like trying to time travel.”
The show? It was more than just another job for Hoff. He was involved in its birth in La Jolla, Calif.
The show was tailored to the actors’ talents. And Hoff’s character? He became the heart and soul of the story. The actor earned a Tony nomination for the work — his first Broadway role in 10 years — and viewed the experience as something pretty magical.
The Tony nomination, he says, was validation he had accomplished “what I was called to do.”
The day of the Tony Awards was as hectic as show business gets. In the morning, Hoff and company rehearsed at Radio City Music Hall. In the afternoon they performed a matinee. At night, they did the red carpet, performed on the show and sat in the audience waiting to hear whose name would be called.
Hoff braced himself “and five minutes later I was on stage and the crowd was on its feet. It was so surreal…but it was a triumph for all of us.”
The Best Featured Actor in a Musical trophy sits on his mantel, a tribute to a perfect experience.
Now, Hoff says, there’s a new challenge, a new venture.
“When we started, we weren’t sure if this would have legs,” he says of The Midtown Men. “Now, we’re watching it becoming a phenomenon. We’re not just the talent. We’re the producers, the directors, the choreographers and we’re in control.
“With that control comes responsibility, but we’re ready for it.
“It was a dream of mine to be in a band. Now,” he says, “I’m living the dream.”
The Midtown Men will play Winnavegas Casino at 8 p.m. on May 19. Tickets are $20 in advance, $40 day of show. For more information, call Winnavegas, 1-800-468-9466.
I have so much to share about my visit with The Midtown Men in Lakeland, but I’ve been crazy busy. So please enjoy this very cool video in the meantime!
Click here to purchase your CD from The Midtown Men Store
Nippertown.com, the site for “Arts and Entertainment in the Capital District, Berkshires and Hudson Valley” is giving away a pair of tickets to the Sunday, October 9 Midtown Men concert at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. All you have to do is post a comment to their article…(click below)
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
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.
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
Hey from the road, Midtown Club! Spreading roots in the great music stomping grounds of Tennessee and Mississippi…coming from Nashville through Memphis on the Blues Highway, listening to Johnny Cash…
We just found out our album is available on cdbaby, everybody - iTunes next!
Christian, Michael, Daniel and Bobby
- The Midtown Men
Category: The MEN