Village People highlight Palmetto Fourth

Iconic disco group headlines third Fourth of July Fest at Sutton Park

mclear@bradenton.comJuly 4, 2013 

Eric Anzalone joined the Village People 18 years ago. He's the newest member of the group.

Anazalone, better known as the "Biker" character from the iconic disco group, had been playing in hair-metal bands when he spotted an ad in the Village Voice: "Band looking for a singer with a passport."

"I thought it'd be a band looking for a guitar player and singer," he said. "And since it said they needed someone with a passport, I figured, 'Well, they must be working.' "

He was taken aback to find out he would be auditioning to replace founding member Glenn Hughes in the Village People.

It was a change in musical direction for Anzalone, although he said the transition from playing in a metal band to becoming the Biker didn't require much of a wardrobe change.

"This is part of my life, now," he said. "These guys are my family."

Anzalone and the other Village People -- original members Alex Briley, Felipe Rose and David Hodo, plus Ray Simpson who joined in 1979 and Jeff Olson who signed on in 1980 -- will be in Palmetto for the Fourth of July Celebration in Sutton Park.

Also performing will be Canadian rockers the Guess Who, best known for such hits as "American Woman" and "These Eyes." The band opens the show at 5 p.m.

Unlike the Village People, the Guess Who are without most key members. Only drummer Jim Kale and bassist Garry Peterson remain from the original lineup.

This is the third year for the celebration. Previous editions of the Fourth of July Celebration have featured just one big-name band per year: Three Dog Night last year and Eddie Money in 2011.

The Village People will sing live to recorded music. Part of the reason is touring with an orchestra is expensive, Anzalone said. But disco sounds better when played with the kind of precision only recorded music offers.

"When we play with live musicians, which we do, it just doesn't sound right," Anzalone said.

The Village People will perform all their hits, including "YMCA," "In The Navy" and "Macho Man," Anzalone said, plus some covers, such as a disco version of the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes."

They'll also perform their newest song, the soon-to-be-released "Let's Go Back to the Dance Floor," which they just recorded in Miami with the song's producer and writer, KC of KC and the Sunshine Band.

Besides the music, the festival will feature food and beverage vendors. No alcohol will be sold or permitted.

After the concert is a fireworks display around 9 p.m. The best viewing is from the riverfront a few blocks west of Sutton Park.

Details: 5 p.m. July 4, Sutton Park, 1050 Sixth St. W., Palmetto. Tickets: Free. Information: 941-723-4988.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919.

Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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