It’s a big summer for Frankie Valli, longtime leader of the Four Seasons. His band, celebrated in the long-running Broadway hit “Jersey Boys,” opened on the big screen this summer in a Clint Eastwood directed feature.
As new audiences rally around Valli’s hits, he will headline the pre-fireworks “A Capitol Fourth” on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, broadcast live on PBS.
Even after 60 years of performing, it’s something new for Valli, he said over the phone from New York. “I’ve done inaugurations and stuff like that but nothing as big as this. This is major.”
The program will also feature Patti LaBelle, Jordin Sparks, Michael McDonald, Sara Evans, Kelli O’Hara and Kendall Schmidt of Big Time Rush, as well as the National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of pops conductor Jack Everly, along with John Williams’s new arrangement of the national anthem on the occasion of its 200th anniversary. Valli says he doesn’t need to particularly do patriotic songs in his set.
“The show in itself is very patriotic,” he says. “I think the audience will enjoy much more the tunes that they’re looking forward to hearing that have been a part of their lives over the years.”
There’s a lot to choose from: 46 charting singles, including five No. 1 hits as a group and two more by Valli as solo artist.
“There are so many people who have gone to see the play and never realize we had all those hits,” Valli says.
How does Valli manage, at 80, to handle those multi-octave, falsetto-led hits on stage?
“You may lose a note or two,” he says. “It doesn’t make that much of a difference if you took a song down a half a tone, and you’d be perfectly safe.”
He added: “What’s even more amazing to me after all these years, all these people still want to hear these songs.”
Frankie Valli headlines “A Capitol Fourth” on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Friday at 8 p.m. Gates open at 3 p.m. It will be broadcast live on PBS. Check local listings. More information: www.pbs.org/capitolfourth. Catlin is a freelance writer.