T age 65, life’s disco ball keeps spinning for Harry Wayne Casey. When he goes to work, he turns back time to the era of wide bell bottoms and oversized shirt collars nearly requiring FAA clearance, such is their span.
The mid-1970s marked a big takeoff for the ever-smiling frontman of KC and the Sunshine Band. And 40 years after he slipped on his “Boogie Shoes,” Casey still lets the music move him to shake, shake, shake his booty along with his team of funky dancers.
“It just seems natural and normal to me,” Casey said, speaking by phone from his Miami home of his still-smooth moves.
“It’s just part of who I am. I’ve always been very hyperactive.”
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The group boasting hit songs including “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “Get Down Tonight,” “Please Don’t Go” and “Keep It Comin’ Love” will headline the Columbus Area Arts Council’s Rock the Park concert Aug. 13 at Mill Race Park.
Casey laughed when asked if concertgoers better be ready to party.
“Oh, we are the party,” he said.
But times have changed for a band that was the first since The Beatles to score four No. 1 pop songs in a single year (1975).
Most of the ’70s styles are gone.
“And everything with us is definitely more choreographed now than it ever was,” Casey said. “In the ’70s, it was more raw.”
The group’s tunes have been part of more than 200 movie soundtracks. For those wondering about the group’s live sound today, an appearance earlier this year with CeeLo Green on TV’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” turned the place into joyous, exuberant, brassy tumult.
Casey still fronts a 15-member ensemble, including that trademark, funky brass section and dancers.
“That gives people more of a good sense of what the records really sounded like,” he said of the large ensemble. “And the dancers add to the entertainment and the excitement.”
Tami Sharp, the arts council’s program director, said last month that she has been told the band’s concerts are “equivalent to a Las Vegas-style show.” But Casey hardly imagined he would be singing the same tunes today, along with a few newer ones.
“Today, I certainly don’t think about what I’ll be doing 10 years from now. I actually hope I’m still doing this.”
He still hears the word disco linked to his tunes. But he mentioned that that’s not entirely accurate.
“We’re really R&B pop,” he said, alluding to the band’s soulful sound.
And Casey himself can enjoy the music and the crowds today much more than in decades past — a time when he battled severe loneliness so often on the road that he began abusing prescription drugs and became addicted.
“I have a lot more fun now,” the singer said. “I’m not as pressured to be anywhere. And I can more easily go out and have a good time.”
He laughed when asked about the more challenging aspects of entertainment today.
“Going through TSA (at airports),” he said.
He is no longer surprised to find an abundance of younger listeners in his audiences. He describes them as “babies to grandmas.”
Casey’s theory to his musical longevity rests in a simple assertion.
“It was great music — just great music,” he said. “I know that the critics tried to put it down. But it has stood the test of time. And really, it has created a new time.
“Because some of the songs you hear on the radio today are very reminiscent of music from the 70s. So, in a way, the music is everlasting.”
The group’s new synth-heavy, electronic dance music single, “We Belong Together,” was recently released and may be included in the local concert’s set list.
Fairmount’s April Eccles saw the group recently in northern Indiana and felt like she had been in a time machine. Maybe that’s part of the magic of the group more than 40 years after its heyday.
She posted to Casey on Facebook: “You are handsome as ever and still got the moves!”
What: Opening local band Minefield Neighborhood and headlining act KC and the Sunshine Band at the Columbus Area Arts Council’s Annual Rock the Park concert.
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 13.
Where: Mill Race Park on Fifth Street in Columbus.
Tickets: $20 in advance at artsincolumbus.org or $25 at the gate.
Seating: General admission concert with no reserved or priority seating. There is designated seating for people using wheelchairs, however.
Food/drink: Beer, wine and food will be available for purchase. No pets, outside coolers, food or drinks allowed into the park. Large bags subject to inspection. Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets.
Parking: Available at Cummins parking lot, Brown and Fifth strets, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Suggested donation of $5 for parking.
Information: 812-376-2539 or artsincolumbus.org.