The Hit Men hit all the right notes in Morristown

The horn section of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The horn section of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
2
The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Lee Shapiro and Jimmy Ryan of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

By Kevin Coughlin

Name-droppers can grow tedious. But The Hit Men heard no complaints at Morristown’s Mayo Performing Arts Center on Thursday.

The five members of this group have recorded or performed with so many stars that they could do a week of shows and not drop the same name twice.

Larry Gates of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Larry Gates of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

What makes the exercise so rewarding is their attention to detail.

As advertised, The Hit Men really are more than a cover band; these session wizards helped Frankie Valli, Carly Simon, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, Carole King and many others create some of their most memorable songs.

On Thursday, the quintet captured the sound and spirit of tunes like Bad Bad Leroy Brown, You’re So Vain and Locomotion.

The show picked up steam with a medley of hits by Tommy James & The Shondells (I Think We’re Alone Now, Hanky Panky, Mony Mony).

Lee Shapiro of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Lee Shapiro of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Reggie Dwight (a.k.a. Elton John), who hired guitar ace Jimmy Ryan for a studio session in the ’70s, also got a nod with sizzling renditions of Crocodile Rock and Saturday Night’s Alright.

Ryan’s fellow Hit Men were Lee Shapiro (Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Tommy James & The Shondells), Gerry Polci¬†¬† (The Four Seasons), Larry Gates (Tommy James, Carole King) and Russ Velasquez (Sting, LL Cool J).

They’re all Jersey boys, too, with the exception of the Bronx-born Velasquez. They were bolstered by a three-piece horn section, led with verve by Mark Feinberg on sax.

Gerry Polci of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gerry Polci of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

One of the evening’s highlights came when Ryan (whose roots are in Plainfield and Westfield) picked up an acoustic guitar and his buddies surrendered their instruments, for some close-harmony vocalizing on Silence Is Golden and Dion’s Runaround Sue.

The evening climaxed with Polci, a Passaic native and former teacher in New Providence, reprising his lead vocal on December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night) — the Four Seasons’ biggest hit.

For encores, The Hit Men launched into a rip-roaring medley of Four Seasons favorites (Sherry, Walk Like a Man, Big Girls Don’t Cry). The harmonies sparkled. Oh, what a night. Keep the names dropping, guys.

Larry Gates and Russ Velasquez of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Larry Gates and Russ Velasquez of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Jimmy Ryan of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Jimmy Ryan of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Russ Velaquez of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Russ Velaquez of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The horn section of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The horn section of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

LEADER OF THE BAND: Lee Shapiro of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
LEADER OF THE BAND: Lee Shapiro of The Hit Men, at MPAC. Photo by Kevin Coughli
NICE CONCERT, HONEY! Gerry Polci gets a post-show kiss from his wife, Rhea Chiles, the daughter of late Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles. They stopped into the Dublin Pub after The Hit Men concert. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
NICE CONCERT, HONEY! Gerry Polci gets a post-show kiss from his wife, Rhea Chiles, the daughter of late Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles. They stopped into the Dublin Pub after The Hit Men concert. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

n

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 MorristownGreen.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you so much. Yes, I would love to keep in touch!
    Thank you! I have never seen Jersey Boys, but my wife Rhea saw it and took her adult son and daughter to see it in Orlando and Vegas. After we met I told her it was not something I was a part of and didn’t want to see so she hasn’t seen it since 2014. But, I hear it’s a great show. Thanks for reaching out, and the compliment! Please keep in touch. -Gerry

  2. Hi Gerry!

    It’s been a very long time. DO you remember me? I am your cousin. My wife was searching on UTube on found your info. I pray all is well. We were kids back then but you were like a genius lol, musicially. Your mom and dad were so proud of you, well we all were. My wife tell everybody, especially when the Jersey Boys came out, that my cousin was the singer and drummer for Frankie Valle. Do you remember the dinner at my sister’s house in Bloomfield were the whole group came. It was really remarkable.
    Just want to send a hello, and let you know we area all still proud of you, Gerry

LEAVE A REPLY