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Four C Notes founder John Michael Coppola

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The music of The Four Seasons — even as it enthralled a new generation of fans through the hit musical “Jersey Boys” — also marks a point of pride for Italian Americans, as the group’s original lineup boasts Italian roots through and through.

There’s just one problem, though: When “Jersey Boys” ended its wildly successful Chicago run, demand to hear energetic performances didn’t end with it.

How appropriate, then, that a “Jersey Boys” veteran has risen up to carry the musical torch. In fact, John Michael Coppola had the role of Frankie Valli down cold during a run of more than two years, from October 2007 to January 2010. Today, he’s turned those credentials into a concert experience that was all but inevitable: The Four C Notes currently stands as Chicago’s only tribute recreating the music of Valli and company.

The “C” in “C Notes” might as well stand for “chance,” as the group formed by accident, Coppola says. “A year after the show closed, I created a solo concert that I still perform, in which I sang only two Frankie Valli tunes; the rest were hits from various other artists.” Fast-forward to August 2013, a wedding, and an endless romance between fans and the Four Seasons.

“I was referred to a bride who wanted a Four Seasons tribute at her wedding,” Coppola recalls. “Since I was the only guy from the show who stayed in Chicago, I hired three other Chicago theater pals to do the gig with me. Well, when word got out that there were these guys in town doing Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tunes, the phone started ringing more and more, as if the universe opened its doors and said ‘Yes! Go with that instinct.’”

Today, that takes the form of Coppola and his fellow vocalists backed by a seven-piece band, the combined wrecking crew delivering 75 non-stop minutes of Four Seasons hits.

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“The Chicago area has really embraced us,” Coppola notes. “It’s not only because of the Seasons’ own musical legacy of amazing songs, but also because of the longevity of ‘Jersey Boys.’”

Yet it’s hardly a Chicago-area phenomenon anymore, let alone just a Jersey thing. “We’ve been seen in Des Moines, Baltimore, D.C., and this summer Omaha and Maine are on the schedule,” Coppola says. “It’s quite the ride.”

Coppola considers himself blessed to take it, too: Fans weren’t the only ones sad to see “Jersey Boys” go.

“Since I was an understudy and didn’t play the role full time, every time was satisfying, “ he says. “It was the role of a lifetime for a short, Italian guy and we were telling the story of a group that created a soundtrack for an entire theater full of people. For two hours, they relived some of their lifelong memories all because of what we brought to the stage. There was no greater satisfaction than seeing the crowd react with so much enthusiasm and emotion.”

The Four C Notes will appear at Festa Italiana in Milwaukee and the Taylor Street Festa Italiana in August. (thefourcnotes.com)

About Lou Carlozo

Lou Carlozo is award-winning journalist who spent 20 years reporting for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune. He began writing for Fra Noi in 2007, and claims maternal and paternal southern Italian lineage. The monthly Lou&A columnist and a music reviewer/writer, his work has appeared in Reuters, Aol, The Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor and news outlets around the world. In 1993, he was a Pulitzer Prize team-reporting finalist for his contributions to the Tribune’s “Killing Our Children” series. He resides in Chicago with his wife of 21 years, a hospital chaplain, and their teenage son and daughter.

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