"The Hit Men – Legendary Musicians on Stage at the Haugh Performing Arts Center "
Music has a way of transcending cultures breaking barriers like no other. The generation that came after the first baby boomers experienced a revelation in music from the mid 1960’s to the early 1980’s that musical revelation involved the Motown Sound, the singer/songwriter era, the L.A. Sound, the Brill Building in New York to name a few. Yet all of these had one thing in common…the musicians that played on all those records. The unsung heroes of almost every popular song that came flowing out of our transistor radios had remained nameless for many years. Films like The Wrecking Crew & Muscle Shoals profiled and highlighted the important contributions these men and women made to what are now classic music that have reverberated through two or more generations with no end in sight. Good music will always be good music. The only drawback is most of us will never be able to hear these songs played live by the vary same musicians that recorded them….until now.
"The Hit Men Play The Hits! "
"The Hit Men, whose show was presented Saturday night in the Santander Performing Arts Center by Pretzel City Productions, reminded the enthusiastic audience of the joy, fun and immense creativity involved in the music of the 1960s and '70s. Unlike the many tribute bands floating around the touring circuit these days, the Hit Men are a band made up of representatives of the army of unsung heroes of that time: the brilliant sidemen, session musicians, arrangers and composers who were the backbone of hit after hit. All five of the band members actually performed and recorded albums with the well-known artists whose music they played and sang in the concert. Each one is a master of his instrument, and they are all showmen as well, each with an individual performing style and stage persona equal to - or even surpassing - the big names. Founder and keyboardist Lee Shapiro, lead guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Ryan, bassist/vocalist Larry Gates, keyboardist/percussionist/vocalist Russ Velazquez and drummer/vocalist Steve Murphy put on a dynamic, captivating show with the stamina of people half their age."
"Velazquez, who sang the lead in some of the more raucous numbers, had the manic energy of Jack Black or the late John Belushi, and he had the moves, as he skittered across the floor in songs like Tommy James' "Mony, Mony," Carole King's Little Eva hit "Locomotion," and Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World." They opened with "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, with Murphy singing lead in a high, strong voice and impressive lead guitar work by Ryan; then Murphy retired to his drum set, where he later was featured in a major drum solo during a performance of music from the movie "Grease," combining power with finesse. Their signature Four Seasons medley (Shapiro was a member) featured Ryan on lead vocals for "Working My Way Back to You," "Rag Doll" and "Ronnie"; they later gave beautiful renditions of "Can't Take My Eyes off You" with Gates singing, "Let's Hang On" with Velazquez on lead, and another Four Seasons medley as an encore. Ryan, who was Carly Simon's music director, lead guitarist, backup vocalist and even co-songwriter on occasion, introduced a full-bodied performance of "You're So Vain." He also worked with Cat Stevens, whose "Peace Train" he started singing a cappella in true Stevens style. They gave a nod to Elton John with "Crocodile Rock" and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," and the four singers gathered at the front to perform Orleans' 1975 hit "Dance With Me" accompanied by Ryan's acoustic guitar and hand-held percussion instruments. Shapiro added a bit of whimsy with a harmonicalike melodica."
Reading Eagle, Reading, PA
"I have to share an unexpected experience with you. I booked a show called "The Hit Men" from a cold call email that looked interesting, It boasted a band that comprised the Four Seasons, Carly Simon (guitar player), Jim Croce, Tommy James and the Shondells, Cat Stevens, etc.This show was spectacular! I have never had anything that good in the small hall. These guys are the real McCoy. They were the 4 seasons that were real singers and arrangers. The true musicians playing that music that took it from kids to iconic. The house came down from the first medley. They actually build the show like almost no other act we've had. I'm bringing them back next year and hope to build an annual following. They're represented by BiCoastal Productions. Go get 'em. You won't believe it!"
The Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL
"The Hit Men were the complete package. Their stage presentation was visually appealing as was their musicianship. The use of the video images to help recreate that period of time in both their lives as well as the lives of the audience was an added bonus. Offstage, Lee and all of them were a delight to work with. They were most gracious to all my staff and contracted labor as they were with the audience. The audience absolutely loved them. Average age was definitely 50+, but they were totally into the show and if The Hit Men had wanted to perform another 30 minutes, no one would have left. I have had nothing but compliments from my audience. YEAH! It was a great booking!"
The Eisemann Center, Richardson TX
"What can I say? Seriously, what a night! SOLD OUT performance! The voices, the instrumentals, the extraordinary talent – in a whole new ball league compared to the acts out there today but it sounds ridiculous to even say that. These guys have been in the business their entire lives and they are as good as it gets. They are the best and have worked shoulder to shoulder with the best. Just a touch of fate that it isn’t their names that we know as well as Franki Valli and Carly Simon and all the rest. The history they shared in between numbers was so fascinating and I enjoyed their humor and engagement with one another on stage. What energy! Wow! I heard over and over from members of my audience that this was one of the best shows they had ever seen and how much they loved every second of the show! The President of the college made it a point to find me in the Lobby to share how pleased he was with the selection of this show. Please thank The Hit Men for coming to Westminster College Celebrity Series and tell the guys that we LOVED working with them and our audience is blowing up my email and voicemail with love for them as well!"
Westminster College, New Wilmington PA
"The Hit Men are the real deal! They delivered a truly outstanding show. No presenter will be sorry for bringing them in. We had a full house, it was rocking from the first song (including 4 separate standing ovations), and an in-box full of e-mails begging us to bring them back. It’s official, Southwest Florida loves The Hit Men."
Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, Fort Myers FL
"The Hit Men were everything promised and so much more. They are the real deal. They tell amazing stories about the musical legends they have been part of over the years, and they made music on our stage that made the audience beam and roar with satisfaction. It was a truly exceptional performance experience."
Capitol Civic Centre, Manitowoc, WI
"The Hit Men absolutely and unequivocally crushed it! I wish I could book them every freaking week."
Allegheny County (Pittsburgh)
"The Hit Men had St. Pete’s Palladium rocking from the first song. Such amazing musicianship and vocal talent… and simply great human beings that were fun to be around. The authenticity and relevancy of this show was apparent, with barely a degree of separation between the hit songs we all know and love and the collective ties The Hit Men share. The guys shared wonderful stories with great enthusiasm and had this crowd on their feet and wanting more.
This was truly a feel good night for everyone in the building!"
Big 3 Entertainment Group/Bill Edwards Presents, St. Petersburg, FL
" "The Hit Men were sensational," "The best Allentown Symphony Orchestra Pops concert ever," "A thoroughly enjoyable evening," are just a few of the comments passed on to me after the show. The enthusiastic response of the audience was well deserved by this talented, personable and high energy group that are at once musicians and entertainers. The Hit Men are real pros on every level, a pleasure to work with, and an experience I hope we have the good fortune to repeat."
Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown PA
"The performance was outstanding. Not only was the music, and the vignettes that the group members shared with the audience about their collective ties to the songs that they were performing, excellent but their professionalism and attitude were superb. Their generosity and the compliments to our technical staff on-point for their concert was genuine and heart-felt. This was offered both directly to the crew but from the stage to the audience, as well. We had a local sponsor for the evening that involved a post-performance reception for the group. Again, the generosity that they shared with the attendees in the time and personal attention that they offered to our guests was well-received and much appreciated. All-in-all, a successful evening of nostalgia and strong musicality that was welcomed by those in attendance."
University of Florida Performing Arts, Gainesville FL
"Best Show of The Season! If you want a show that will bring the house down, you need to look at The Hit Men. Top notch professionals from the great names in entertainment. “OH! WHAT A NIGHT….” I can’t remember when we have had such a riveting group of guys at the Paramount Center for the Arts. They had the audience in the palms of their hands from the first note. People sang out loud, clapped their hand and danced in the aisles (Including me). They cinched the show when they lined up on the edge of the stage with an acoustic guitar, and sang “Silence is Golden” a cappella. The audience went wild! HOW ARE WE GOING TO TOP THIS SHOW?"
Paramount Center for the Arts, Bristol, TN
"The Hit Men were sensational. The show drew, perhaps, our biggest and most responsive audience of the season. The audience (it's safe to say) were captivated by the energy and musicality of the performance. The visuals and musicians' narrative added to the authenticity of the billing and left the audience with a vivid sense of popular music history. Thanks for bringing them here."
Panama City Music Association, Panama City, FL
"I’ve gotten nothing but rave reviews about the Hit Men performance here last Saturday. Comments like “there was such great energy coming from the stage,” and “the vocals were amazing” to “Russ moves like a white James Brown” and finally “when can you get them back” have been the norm. Others really liked hearing all the stories they had to tell about the many artists the guys had worked with over the years, but most of all it was the quality of the music. Even when we lost power two hours before the show, Lee and the guys were ready to do an all-acoustic set to make sure our Gala audience left satisfied. Lucky for us the power came back on so we could experience the full show in all its glory. Every promoter needs to know that this show is a sure bet!"
Foundation Performing Arts & Conference Center, Isothermal Community College, Spindale NC
"I had the great privilege to work with Lee Shapiro and The Hit Men show on the Des Moines Symphony's New Year's Eve concert. Every aspect of this event exceeded all expectations. The band was great, the orchestral arrangements appropriate and clean, and all this led to a very pleased (and sold out) audience with multiple standing ovations. And when you hear star drummer Gerry Polci sing "Oh What A Night", he takes the audience back to December, 1963. Book them and be prepared for a well- executed and fast paced show! You won't be disappointed!"
The Des Moines Symphony, Des Moines, IA
"The Hit Men show here last night was fabulous! Thank you so much for bringing them to us.Our audience was singing and dancing all night - every song was a top hit - no B side songs. It was fun to see our 60+ year olds having such a great time! The show was a sell-out more than 30 days ahead. The Hit Men have an extensive fan base and their "Jersey Boys" connection was a great marketing tool for our south Florida audience. Can't wait to have them back in 2015!"
Eissey Campus Theatre, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
"On March 28, 2013, Castleton State College presented The Hit Men. Their on-campus residency began with a one-hour presentation in which the artists shared their experiences over long careers in the music industry....and ...inspired many of our Music Majors to follow their passions. They returned that night to perform in front of a packed house. A mixed audience of college students and the general public of all ages. The concert was absolutely amazing. The usually stoic Vermont audience responded to each of their music numbers with an enthusiasm that led to spontaneous dancing in the aisles. Their show took the older audience members back to their youth as well as presenting the younger audience with a demonstrative history of American rock 'n roll. The feedback was so phenomenally positive that they would like to bring The Hit Men back to Castleton in the very near future."
Castleton State College, Castleton, VT
"The Hit Men just keep bringing them. One after another, as their name says, hit after hit. Rather, I should say, amazing hit after more amazing hit. Hits that sounded just the way I remembered them from my youth. Hits that made my audience stand, hits that made my audience fall in love. Hits they will soon play again when we rebook them."
Not Just Jazz and Cabaret Club, Lake Worth, FL
"The Hit Men with comedian John Carfi were received extremely well. The band is a party....Comprised of musicians from many of the popular music acts of the 60's, 70's, and 80's, every song they played was a Billboard Chart hit. The band had the incredible ability to reproduce these rockin' songs to sound exactly like the original recordings. That's likely because they were the original artists who sang on most of them. Our audience (somewhat younger than our regular patrons) reacted with great enthusiasm to the music. Comedian John Carfi is funny, topical and clean and a great addition to this show. Working with The Hit Men was a presenter's dream - no fuss, lots of talent."
Queensborough Performing Arts Center, Bayside, NY
"Thank you for bringing The Hit Men to the Landis Theater. It was a truly exceptional night with people literally dancing in the aisles! In addition to a superb program of classic rock and pop hits, the personal stories of each band member brings the audience behind the scenes and gives them a glimpse into the history of some of their favorite artists and recordings. It is also evident that the band enjoys what they are doing and this infuses the evening with the spirit of good times and a party atmosphere.The Hit Men are a pleasure to work with and we look forward to seeing them back at the Landis Theater soon."
Appel Farms Arts & Music Center at the Landis, Vineland NJ
"The Hit Men really "hit the mark" with our audience. The response was incredible and the show was well attended and everyone leaving the theatre asked me to bring them back. I already have a date confirmed for Wednesday, February 13/13."
The Sunrise Theatre, Ft. Pierce, FL
"For my own part, I could not have been happier. The show was great. I don't remember a time when we have had a standing ovation in the middle of the show. Comments afterwards were outstanding. I also really appreciated the extra mile that Lee Shapiro went with the local newspaper and a Buffalo radio station to promote last minute sales. We did 82 tickets in one day which is double what we normally do on one day and I attribute this to Lee's efforts. Please feel free to use me as a reference. This group is going to make anyone with audience members 55 and old and up very happy."
Rockefeller Arts Center, SUNY Fredonia, NY
"After hurricane Sandy and a freak snowstorm it was becoming doubtful that the Hit Men were even going to be able to get to the Brunswick Community College Odell Williamson Auditorium for a 7:30 curtain on November 8. There were no flights that morning out of New York or New Jersey but the “Real Jersey Boys” were not deterred. They rented a van and set off for Philly and then by plane on to North Carolina. They were late getting in but they wasted no time in getting set up and doing a sound check. From the first note till the last there was never any doubt, "These guys are the real deal".
Lee Shapiro, a member of the Four Seasons and the leader has put together a group of seasoned pros that bring the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s back just the way we remember it, because after all they did the first time.
A note to other presenters: The Hit Men are all real pros, very easy to work with, grateful for whatever you do for them and willing to sign autographs and take pictures all night."
Brunswick Community College, Odell Williamson Auditorium, Bolivia, NC
"I just did this show- it was amazing- great response and sold well. I highly recommend it. We’re going to bring it back next year for sure."
The Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT
"The Hit Men were TERRIFIC....our audiences LOVED them! Both nights were sold out. The guys were delightful both ON and OFF stage...all were perfect gentlemen and a joy to talk with!
They will be high on the list for 2015!"
Township Center for Performing Arts, Coconut Creek, FL
"The Kate crowd got up on their feet and wouldn’t let go as the Hit Men segued from hit to hit to hit. We’re already discussing a return date for 2013."
The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Old Saybrook, CT
"Great show Great sales--who could ask for more! I have been executive producer for the series for 20 years and several subscribers told me The Hit Men was the best show they have seen. It is the top seller for this season and the guys sold out their CDs as well."
Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Greenvale, NY
"I've been Music & Entertainment Chairman for the Bristol, RI 4th of July Committee for five years and have presented just under a hundred shows. The Hit Men's performance this year, without any doubt, has been the best we've ever seen. Their crowd pleasing repertoire and presentation were beyond what anyone anticipated. their vocals and stage presence were truly astounding. their courteous and professional attitude towards the sound and lighting crews was a welcome attribute from a group of real pros. and they drew 4000 extremely pleased people! I'd bring them back in a heartbeat."
Bristol's Annual Fourth of July Celebration, Bristol, RI
"I cannot begin to tell you what a hit The Hit Men were this past Saturday night at the 21st Annual Pawley’s Island Festival of Music & Art. This was the final night of a two week festival and I can tell you they were a hit.
They had over 700 adults on their feet clapping and dancing most of the night. These are extremely talented musicians and our guests loved the music they played. They completely sold out of CDs.
And, the guys were just great to work with. They were very accomodating, played two long sets, plus an encore. It was much more than we expected.
What a night we had. One for the books!"
Pawley’s Island Festival of Music & Art
"I think I have to say The Hit Men was my all time favorite. I loved the music first, but equally enjoyed the stories that accompanied each song. The guys were wonderful to work with (just as you said) and our audience had a great time. Over and over I had patrons request we have them back! I did briefly worry about some of my older patrons (those past 70) when the volume cranked up, but no one complained.
It was a great show. I hope to have the privilege of having them back again. I am pretty sure they ran out of CD’s.
Thanks for helping make it happen."
Brauntex Performing Arts Theater Association
"When The Hit Men play anywhere near you, go see them! In only their second gig, they were incredibly tight and polished last night at BB King's in New York City. It was a fabulous show, and I enjoyed every minute of it."
The Huffington Post
"What can I say??? Better than advertised---The Hit Men blew the crowd out of the water. They are better than the last time I saw Frankie Valli---they hit all the notes, and, the stories were great! 756 seats at $35 a pop made for a great evening for us at the Broadway Theatre, and I am looking forward to having the show back there in February---the people would have bought tickets if I had them there. I am already working on several other locations to bring the show --- I'll be back at you shortly---now that I have seen it live! Incredible---two standing Os!"
"Had ANOTHER great time seeing The Hit Men on Friday night. The place was sold out - and rockin all night. They were actually FILMING the show for a "Hit Men Reality Show"??? Really???? Anyway - the guys are just so much fun to watch and listen to. They are up there having such a good time - so laid back and relaxed - they sing - they tell stories - we just LOVE them. To tell you the truth - I'm loving these guys MORE than when they were with Frankie. Whatever they are doing - I hope they keep it going. According to their schedule - it doesn't look like we'll be seeing them again any time soon. Boo Hoo! Sure hope they perform in the area soon. I need my FIX again."