Sunday, March 29, 2015
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Relive the 1960s music with The Midtown Men

Midtown Men

The Midtown Men

By
From page B1 | April 04, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Whether The Midtown Men will delve into the 17-minute-plus “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” during a concert remains to be seen.

“Maybe in time,” said Midtown Man and Tony Award-winner Christian Hoff. “Right now, in our suits, singing ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ won’t work.”

Hoff is OK that the Iron Butterfly hit is not on the song list; but he would like to see it, and tunes from artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Cream, on the set list.

After all, The Midtown Men, whose membership is the original cast members of Broadway’s “Jersey Boys,” has added The Beach Boys, Motown, The Beatles and many more 1960s artists to their original repertoire of hits from The Four Seasons. They’ll be playing April 12 at the Uptown Theatre in Napa.

The group formed in 2007 with the goal of building on the sound they had developed as The Four Seasons.

“(The idea was) let’s get this chemistry applied to other bands,” Hoff said. “It was fun for us to take on the competition.”

Hoff, 46, was no stranger to 1960s music. The first record he remembered hearing is “Meet The Beatles.”

The songwriters of that era were the best at bringing stories to life musically, Hoff said. He said that’s the main reason 1960s music still plays a prominent role in the music scene.

“The songs were well-crafted,” he said. “The talent pool was organic.”

It was also a time when songs didn’t require a fixed number of beats to be popular. There wasn’t a formula for a successful pop record at the time, Hoff said.

There was such diversity in music from Detroit to Memphis, the East Coast to the West Coast and the British invasion, he said.

Audiences remember those days and often share the memories with The Midtown Men.

“People will tell us they were starting a business, in Vietnam or raising a family,” Hoff said.

The Midtown Men are not a tribute band, Hoff said. He and other band members try to create the essence of the original record and put their own spin on it, he said.

Such care has attracted some of the original artists to join The Midtown Men on stage. Tommy James, Paul Anka and Bill Medley are among them.

Bringing the magic to the stage begins offstage, Hoff said. Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer are the other members.

“We are like four brothers,” Hoff said. “We still fight like cats and dogs. Sometimes I feel like we are the Eagles. Sometimes coming together and coming to an agreement can be difficult. We love each other, but the work is not without sacrifice.”

The Midtown Men are booked well into 2015. Hoff said he’ll go with the flow. There’s quite a river of talent to draw from.

Hoff’s voiceover accomplishments earned him notable success, including Foreword Magazine’s 2008 Audio Book of The Year, when his voicing of more than 200 characters surpassed the audio book world record.

His voiceover career was launched as Richie Rich in the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series.

Theatrical highlights include the roles of Frank-n-Furter in the Los Angeles production of “The Rocky Horror Show” and King Herod in the national revival tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

He made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award and Grammy Award-winning The Who’s “Tommy.”

Hoff has recorded Grammy Award-winning cast albums for “Jersey Boys” and The Who’s “Tommy,” with famed Beatles producer George Martin.

He’s made several TV appearances, including federal prosecutor Thomas Grady on “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” and a recurring role on the soap opera “All My Children,” to name a couple.

The father of five got the theatrical bug when he was 8 or 9 and told the story of Tom Sawyer at school. At 11, he got his first guitar and learned he could act and play music.

A decade after doing “Tommy,” Hoff got a call about “Jersey Boys.” There was no script, just the idea.

“That was a major milestone in the canvas of my career,” he said. “I still get that same joy connecting to the audience.”

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.
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