Harry Wayne Casey, better known in the music world as KC, brought his South Florida Sunshine Band to a delighted diverse crowd at the Samala Showroom in the Chumash Casino Resort on Aug. 7.
The band, which had a long string of disco hits in the 1970s, is benefiting from a resurgence in popularity of the much maligned disco dance era musical genre. Bands like mega-disco hit makers Chic, led by the legendary Nile Rodgers, have found a new generation of dance music fans embracing the style and substance of their endeavors.
Much like, Chic, The Sunshine Band, is made up of veteran musicians with an immense talent for performing an amalgamation of R&B, Funk, and Dance Boogie music. The band featured four dancers, two of whom acted as talented back up singers, a black funk rock rhythm section composed of a bass guitar, lead guitar and drummer, a jazz funk horn section with four members, a Latin infused percussionist, and two keyboardists (three when KC played keyboards).
KC acted as MC as well as the lead singer, and bantered with the audience, telling extended, well rehearsed jokes and song anecdotes. Sharing the same birth date with Justin Timberlake, all be it t30 years earlier, KC joked, “This is what Justin Timberlake is going to look like in 30 years. What the hell happened to me?”
The portly singer's self effacing humor endeared him with audience members old enough to remember his disco era hits, back when the hit songs were still in regular rotation on the radio. But there were a surprising number of very young disco fans in the crowd as well, including a large group of teenage girls with flowers in their hair, who were born long after the disco era.
The show opened with “[Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty,” setting the disco tone early, with dancers prancing around in ever changing outlandish disco outfits. A giant mirror ball reinforced the disco-era dance theme and highlighted a spectacular light show.
Then KC spent several minutes telling jokes about his age (“I’m 63 years old now. What the hell happened?”) and weight (saying he quit smoking and gained so much weight that he's going to change the band’s name to KFC and the Sunshine Band).
Apparently he pretty much tells the same jokes verbatim all throughout his national tour, but the banter was well received just the same.
KC then launched into a set of ballads including “Please Don’t Go,” one of six No. 1 songs the band had 1975-79, making them one of disco’s foremost act. He sang in a strong clear voice and followed up with a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home.”
Later he sang another classic ballad, Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me," and revealed that he was about to release an album of 1960s covers.
Then the band kicked into full gear and launched into a medley of their biggest dance hits along with more classic funk dance covers. The talented musicians jammed on several of the songs while KC disappeared backstage and took turns doing classic rock concert solos.
By the time the crowd was allowed to swarm the dance floor in front of the stage, nearly everyone in the venue found themselves gyrating to the infectious dance beats. The old adage seemed to ring true this night — if you wait long enough everything old will become fresh and new again in time.