Harry Wayne Casey puts on his dancing shoes for a free KC and the Sunshine Band concert in Marina del Rey
By Shanee Edwards
Famous for No. 1 hits including “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “Get Down Tonight” and “I’m Your Boogie Man,” KC and the Sunshine Band has inspired people all over the world to shake, shake, shake their booties for nearly 40 years.
And they’re still leading the disco line. With a new album out on iTunes and another on the way, KC and the Sunshine Band is headed to Marina del Rey on Saturday for a free outdoor summer concert a Burton Chace Park.
It’s with a sense of pride that bandleader Harry Wayne Casey — a.k.a. KC — expects to see everyone from young kids to grandmothers out in the audience.
“There will be three or four generations standing in front of me. It’s pretty cool,” says Casey, 64.
These days, Casey’s more relaxed on tour and gets the chance to enjoy performances more than he did in the old days.
“I don’t have all the pressure on me that I did back then,” he says.
Back in the 1970s, Casey played a big role in transforming the American music scene.
“I thought the music of the time was really dark. We decided to do this high-energy type of sound. It got everyone excited, and that ushered in a whole new dance thing that was happening,” Casey says.
At the time, club music was called disco. Now it’s just “dance music.” But whatever you call it, it’s still going strong.
“Dance music is bigger than it’s ever been, actually,” he says. “Clubs are bigger. Everything on the radio is pretty much dance music now. It’s not going anywhere. It’s going to keep getting bigger and bigger. People love to dance and this new generation has really embraced it.”
Casey’s personal playlist isn’t stuck on the soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever” (which he contributed to) either. These days he’s into just about everything Top 40, including Taylor Swift.
“I think she’s very talented. I mean, I was once in her shoes — I was there. But I’m starting to listen to stuff that’s more out of my comfort zone. I finally really got into Amy Winehouse. I understand her now; I understand her music,” he says.
Given the band’s global reach and the continuing popularity of its songs long after the heyday of disco, Casey has had the surreal experience of hearing his own music in elevators, shopping centers and even the “Dance Dance Revolution” video game series.
One particularly odd moment of hearing his own music came during a recent trip to Amsterdam to appear on a TV show.
“I was walking down the street with my tour manager and I hear “Give it Up” coming out of this building. I walk in and there’s this construction worker and he’s in there singing “Give it Up,” which was a really cool moment. Things like that have happened a lot,” he says. “Just use your imagination and I’ve heard my song there.”
Casey says it’s fun to hear his music being enjoyed around the world and that he remains “grateful, honored and flattered to be actively involved in all these things.”
The best thing about performing live — and what Casey’s looking forward to most about his upcoming show in Marina del Rey — is “to get up on stage and have that connection to the audience,” he says. “Our biggest connection to our fans is sharing that moment with them on stage, hoping they have a good time and enjoy themselves. That’s what it’s all for.”
Even after decades of playing many of the same songs, Casey says he never gets tired of the music: “I just think of how grateful I am to get to do something I love so much.”
Come this autumn, KC and the Sunshine Band is releasing a Christmas album with four original Christmas songs and seven holiday standards.
Casey remains humble about his successful career in music.
“It’s the American dream, isn’t it? I was put here for a reason and I feel like the message of my music — the happy energy part of that message — was delivered. I’m happy that my music has done what I wanted it to do and bring joy and happiness into people’s lives.”
KC and the Sunshine Band’s recent album “Feeling You! The 60s.” — a collection of pop covers from the era that includes songs by Joni Mitchell, the Righteous Brothers, the Supremes and the Kinks — is currently available on iTunes and Amazon.
KC and the Sunshine Band perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. Free. Call (310) 305-9545 or visit beaches.lacounty.gov for more information about the Marina del Rey Summer Concert Series.