KC brings disco hits to St. Petersburg

He'll shake his booty after Saturday's Rays game vs. the Astros

mclear@bradenton.comJuly 13, 2013 

Disco, Harry Wayne Casey says, isn't just about nostalgia.

The Village People and the Bee Gees may not dominate the pop charts these days, but disco is very much alive.

"It's bigger than ever," Casey said. "It's everywhere. They just don't call it disco."

Casey's entitled to opine about disco. He's better known as KC, as in KC and the Sunshine Band, one of the progenitors of the genre.

The band will perform Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg after the Rays game against the Houston Astros. It's part of the Rays Summer Concert series that also includes Carly Rae Jepsen (July 14), OneRepublic (Aug. 17) and Victoria Justice (Aug. 18).

Back when KC and the Sunshine Band first hit the big time, with such classics as "That's the Way (I Like It)" and "Shake Your Booty," disco was divisive. Disco hits sold millions of records but "disco sucks" bumper stickers were ubiquitous, and one baseball team famously hosted an anti-disco rally that turned violent.

KC said the anti-disco sentiment was exaggerated by the press, but still he can understand the feeling.

"I know why it happened," he said in a phone interview from his Miami home, "We changed music. We changed the sound of what was coming out of the radio. When Elvis and the Beatles changed music, there was resentment then too."

But disco prevailed, though maybe in different forms. Madonna's a disco act. Electronica is a form of disco. Even such current acts as Mumford & Sons play disco, at least to KC's ear.

Meanwhile, KC keeps busy touring, so obviously people still want to hear the kind of music he helped invent.

He's recently finished recording two discs' worth of music, 16 new songs and 17 covers of classic songs from the 1960s. He's hoping it will be released as one double CD, called "Feeling You." Among the covers are "Bring It on Home" by Sam Cooke and "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks.

And he just finished producing the new Village People single, "Let's Go Back to the Dance Floor," which he also wrote.

"We were playing a gig in the Washington, D.C., area, and while they were performing, this song just came to me," he said. "It was supposed to be called 'Let's Go Back to the Disco' but they asked me to change it so we wouldn't sound like dinosaurs. I said 'Dude, we are dinosaurs.' "

At his Tropicana Field show, he'll be playing a complete set, focusing on Sunshine Band classics.

"These concerts are difficult because the stage is small and most of the audience is so far away," he said. "They want to keep it familiar, so we'll be playing the hits. I throw in some little bits of covers in medleys, and I do one complete cover song in each show, but mostly it's the hits."

Details: 4:10 p.m. game, concert afterwards, Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg. Tickets: $20-$140 Information: (727) 825-3250, www.tampabay.rays.mlb.com.

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

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