Despite 40 years of performing in venues all over the world, everywhere from New York City to Sydney, Henry Wayne “K.C.” Casey, leader of KC and the Sunshine Band, still gets nervous before he performs.
“You always get nervous.” Casey said. “The day you’re not nervous is the day your career is over.”
At 8:15 p.m. tonight, both KC and the Sunshine Band and the Village People will perform in the Amphitheater.
Though many may remember the group for their ’70s hits, such as “I’m Your Boogie Man” and “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty,” KC and the Sunshine Band has gone through significant structural and musical changes during the past two decades.
During the 1980s, Casey became despondent with the music industry. His group had been unfairly labeled as a “one-trick pony,” he said, and they were limited by expectations of record labels.
“I was tired of being told what to do.” Casey said. “For some reason, we got typecast … I wanted to get back into reality.”
In 1984, Casey disbanded the group and began a life away from music. But he re-emerged in the early 1990s with a reformed KC and the Sunshine Band with an almost entirely new lineup.
The band today consists of Casey, Maria De Crescenzo (back-up vocals), Anika Ellis (back-up vocals), Fermin Goytisolo (percussion), David Simmons (drums), Chris Cadenhead (keyboard), Jeffery Reeves (lead guitar), John Reid (trumpet), Michael Cordone (trumpet), Noah Bellamy (trombone), Fernando Diez (Saxophone), Kenetha Morris (dancer) and Janell Burgess (dancer).
The reinvigorated group is working on a new album, Feeling You, which Casey said represents an evolution in his musical direction. It incorporates a variety of styles, everything from fast-paced rock ‘n’ roll to slow ballads.
“I’ve just done some new stuff.” Casey said. “I think it’s lyrical, I think it’s everything … I have more in this record than I have from all of my albums.”
During the group’s performances, Casey’s goal is to always keep the audience engaged. He tries to avoid what he likes to call “bathroom songs” — songs that an audience finds uninteresting and uses as an opportunity to visit the restroom.
Casey also enjoys covering songs from multiple eras. An entire section of Feeling You is dedicated to songs of the 1960s, with covers of artists such as The Kinks and Joe Cocker. He also enjoys covering contemporary songs, such as “Say” by John Mayer.
KC and the Sunshine Band’s co-performers tonight, the Village People, are icons of disco music. Formed in 1977, the group has gone on to make many hits, including “In the Navy,” “Macho Man” and “YMCA.”
More recently, the Village People have been touring internationally, performing in more than 15 countries. They have also received their very own spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Though both the Village People and KC and the Sunshine Band are now seasoned veterans of the stage, the thrill of performing has never dimmed, Casey said.
“There are always two shows — the one I’m watching and the one [the audience] is watching,” he said.