It’s not uncommon for someone — especially someone who grew up in the Northeast — to have a deep love and connection with the music and career of Frank Sinatra. But what is uncommon is to be as surrounded by it as Michael Martocci was … and still is.
“I grew up in Brooklyn, and a family friend named Jilly Rizzo was Frank Sinatra’s best friend, Martocci says. “So that’s how I got introduced to his music — it was always playing in my household as a kid, and then later on in life I actually got to work for the Sinatra organization all over the world, doing VIP travel packages to Sinatra shows in places like Italy, England and all across America.”
These days Martocci splits his time between running Big Blue Travel – a travel agency that provides fans with first-class, all-inclusive packages to New York Giants away games — and performing the music of Ol’ Blue Eyes, as he will 8 p.m. Saturday, June 12, when he comes to Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. While impersonators and tribute artists are a dime a dozen these days, Martocci’s ability to channel Sinatra is truly special. And having his abilities confirmed by Sinatra’s former conductor only served to boost his credibility.
“When I decided to sing professionally, I was teamed up with Frank Sinatra’s conductor, Vincent Falcone Jr.,” he remembers. “He didn’t like to work with Sinatra tribute artists because he didn’t think they were good enough. But he chose to work with me because he said (my voice) was the closest thing that he had ever heard to the real thing.”
But Saturday’s show at Hard Rock won’t be simply another run-of-the-mill tribute concert. The show is called “Sinatra Meets the House Husbands of New Jersey” and will combine Martocci’s uncanny renditions of Sinatra classics with some added fun from some of reality TV’s hottest stars.
“I had toured with a show called ‘Sinatra Meets The Sopranos’ that I had done with my friend Steve Schirripa. We played all over the place to sold-out audiences everywhere. After that ran its course, I decided to come up with something new. And my daughter is a big fan of ‘The Housewives of New Jersey,’ so I decided to put together ‘Sinatra Meets the Housewives of New Jersey.’ And we had the show all booked and ready to go, and then the pandemic hit. So the show was cancelled. And when I decided to revisit it recently, my daughter said ‘Dad, the husbands are just as popular or more than the wives.’ So I called up my friend Joe Gorga, who is one of the House Husbands, and he loved the idea, so I changed the name of the show to Sinatra Meets the House Husbands of New Jersey, and here we are.”
The show runs almost like an old-school variety show, mixing segments of Martocci performing Sinatra tunes — backed by the full, 17-piece Ol’ Blue Eyes Orchestra – along with video highlights of the best moments form the House Husbands, a bit of stand-up comedy by Gorga, as well as a Q&A with Gorga and his House Husband co-stars Frank Catania and Joe Benigno. The show will be hosted by NJ 101.5-FM radio personality Bill Spadea.
“And for the finale, there is going to be a BIG surprise,” Martocci promises.
The legacy of the Chairman of the Board
While most famous people are never truly forgotten, the popularity that Sinatra possesses even to this day is truly remarkable. Despite his passing more than 20 years ago, it’s nearly impossible to attend any formal function without the DJ playing at least a few of his biggest hits, and he is still regularly name-checked by many of the world’s top vocalists as a major inspiration. And, of course, within the Italian-American community, he is all but a god.
“Sinatra is an icon. His presence has been a part show business for over a hundred years. No matter what, at some point through people’s lives a Sinatra song always seems to make a connection with them. He was the No. 1 performer in the world, and his music and his legacy is stronger now than ever,” Martocci says.