WILKES-BARRE TWP. — One of the musicians who helped usher in the age of disco in the ’70s is bringing his booty-shaking music to the Wyoming Valley.
KC and the Sunshine Band perform at 8 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Keystone Grand Ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Dance music pioneer Harry Wayne “KC” Casey promises to play some of his greatest hits like “That’s They Way (I Like It),” “Get Down Tonight,” and, of course, “Shake Your Booty,” but he also has some new takes on ’60s classics ready for his audience.
Released in January of 2015, “Feeling You! The 60s,” is a collection of covers from an era of music that molded and influenced Casey. The album features songs by Bob Dylan, The Kinks, The Righteous Brothers and Aaron Neville, and it’s the first part of a project that will culminate with new original music from KC and the Sunshine Band.
“I consider this a musical diary of my life,” Casey said of the volume of ’60s tunes. “The motivation behind most of it was where I am in life right now, reflecting back on life.”
Casey said he chose Dylan’s “Blowin’ In the Wind” for it’s timeless and still unheeded sociopolitical message. Neville’s “Tell It Like It Is,” Casey said, came from his appreciation for transparency at the age of 65, and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” because of its lyrical reference to living life through various perspectives.
“They are all songs that are reflective of my feelings now and then,” Casey said.
When handling the classic tunes in the studio, Casey said the Sunshine Band relied on the grooves they felt in the moment, although some songs were already being played in their live show and similar versions were recorded in the studio.
“I didn’t want to go too far away from the originals, but I didn’t want them to sound too much like the originals either,” Casey said.
Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” are the only two covers currently making their way into the Sunshine Band’s live show but only so they have room for all of their memorable originals.
“It’s hard to work many (covers) in when we have a lot of hits, and we have a limited amount of time,” Casey said.
And those hits, Casey said, will be played as fans remember them.
“I really feel it’s important to do them as close to the original as possible,” he said. “I try to keep the original integrity intact, because I feel it’s the way people want to hear it.”
The disco darling said the band does like to get a bit creative with beginnings and endings of songs but the tightly choreographed performance leaves little room for improvisation.
Casey called the current lineup of the Sunshine Band a great group of musicians and said one member has been with him for 35 years while others have been added as recently as two years ago.
“I’m very proud of them, and we all have a good time,” Casey said. “Everybody brings something to the table.”
The man who helped start the dance revolution in the ’70s said it’s been interesting for him to watch it go through transitions over decades.
“When they all thought disco died, it didn’t die,” he said. “It became new wave music, and you couldn’t have been more dance than Madonna.”
Casey noted that today’s dance icons, like Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars use ingredients from the ’60s and ’70s, bringing the genre full circle.
With original material ready to “pop” in the near future, Casey said he’s looking forward to visiting Wilkes-Barre Township.
“It’s always a great reception,” he said. “I always leave there with wonderful memories.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO:
What: KC and the Sunshine Band
Where: Keystone Grand Ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 20
Tickets start at $29 and are available at ticketmaster.com.