On a quiet, overcast Wednesday I had the pleasure to speak to one of the most dynamic frontmen in the music industry whose name many don’t know at first blush, Harry Wayne Casey, better known as KC of the groove shaking KC and the Sunshine Band. Songs like “Shake Your Booty,” “Get Down Tonight,” and “That’s The Way (I Like It)” are a few of their chart toppers getting the masses grooving since the mid-1970s. KC and his band will be bringing their boogie shoes to the Ross School of East Hampton’s Starlight Ball this Saturday for a one-night-only show that will no doubt blow the doors off the room and have celebrities and music moguls like Russell Simmons, the evening’s honoree, screaming “Keep It Coming Love” as they take their bows.
KC, who spends his non-touring time in Miami enjoying a bit of R&R between shows, has enjoyed a long career, with a brief 10-year retirement, traveling and touring the world. “I tour every year and I do mostly weekend shows. I prefer weekends. That’s what I do. That’s what I love to do.” Touring, while at times grueling, gives KC something you just can’t get anywhere else, “There’s no connection for the artist until you get on stage. When you get up there and you see the enjoyment that you’re bringing to people there’s just no better reward for it.” Not one to sit still for long, having just returned from a tour in Buenos Aires, Argentina KC has plans to rock New Orleans for two days before flying to the Hamptons and then going back into the studio next week. I asked him if he planned to party down Bourbon Street and he laughed, “I’ll try not to drink too much…I’m watching my weight.” Aren’t we all?
With so much love for music I wondered why it had been so long since his last album. In December 2012, KC says that “I was approaching my 40th anniversary in the business and it was as if I was 22 or 23 again. The creative juices just started again and came back in abundance. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s not that I wasn’t being creative. I was always jotting things down. It was kind of out of control really.” The new album, which is with the label getting the final polish and mastering before dropping in late August, has a collection of 17 old songs as well as 24 new songs, “I haven’t done a project like this in many years.”
“I’ve always liked all kinds of music,” he says and admits that “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha & The Vandellas is one of his all-time favorite songs, “and this album really represents my taste in music. It’s all the music I really love. It’s more lyrical than anything I’ve ever written and just as melodic as anything I’ve ever written if not more.”
“It’d be fun to collaborate with everyone,” says the self-proclaimed lover of Top 40 music. “I think Katy Perry is amazing, Bruno Mars, of course Justin Timberlake. I like most of Rihanna’s stuff.” Beyond the pop charts he likes Country to, “I like all types of music. I like Country music and think that Rascal Flatts is very good.”
As he considered his long career he admitted to one regret, “I was managing myself for a period of time and the only thing I wish I had done more of was to create more of an identity for myself beyond the music. Most of the time when you say KC And The Sunshine Band people look at you and they go, ‘Who?’ And then you sing a song and they go, ‘Oh, yeah!’ I wish there had been a better association with my name and my music before they know who I am.”
“I worked very hard and sacrificed a lot,” says KC looking back on the past and ahead to the future. “I’ve been very fortunate and blessed and I love what I do and whatever else comes my way I’m going to enjoy with open arms. I’m going to do it until I can’t do it anymore.”
KC And The Sunshine will perform at the Ross School’s 11th Annual Starlight Gala on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Platinum Table: $50,000; Gold Table: $25,000; Silver Table: $15,000; Bronze Table: $10,000; High-Top Table: $5,000; Silver Ticket: $1,250; Bronze Ticket: $1,000; Individual Ticket: $625, www.ross.org/starlight.