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Harry Wayne Casey, disco pioneer and ambassador, wants you to ‘Shake Your Booty’ Friday at fairgrounds

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Disco is not dead. In fact, it never died, said the man who helped pioneer it.

“Today, it’s bigger than it’s ever been,” said Harry Wayne Casey, co-founder and frontman of KC and the Sunshine Band. “Every major artist in the country now is doing disco/dance music, whatever you want to call it. It never went away.”

KC and the Sunshine Band will perform Friday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds Arena as part of the DPAO/Toyota/Car Freshner Summer Concert Series. The Village People will open the concert.

Disco — dance music with elements of soul, a strong Latin-American beat and repetitious lyrics — is more mainstream than people believe, Mr. Casey said late last month in a phone interview from his home state of Florida.

Disco does seem to be developing again. The popular French duo Daft Punk has taken inspiration from ’70s style disco. Also, artists like Justin Timberlake (“Take Back the Night”) and Bruno Mars (“Treasure”) have released singles that seem to come from that funky era.

“The problem is that the critics have tried to denounce this sound, this word and this movement and they’ve been totally wrong all along,” Mr. Casey said.

He started working in the music business at age 17, performing “menial tasks” around T.K. Records/Studios complex in his hometown of Miami.

“I’ve been influenced by everyone because I’ve always opened myself up to all kinds of music,” Mr. Casey said. “I was always very open-minded about my taste and love for music.”

The singer/keyboardist developed a fusion of rhythm and blues, funk and Latin percussion when he co-founded KC and the Sunshine Band in 1973. That’s when he began writing songs with bassist Richard Finch. Their first record, “Blow Your Whistle,” made the top 15 on Billboard’s R&B chart. But it was the band’s self-titled second album released in 1975 that tore up the charts.

That album went triple platinum and contained the No. 1 hits “Get Down Tonight,” “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “Boogie Shoes” and “Rock Your Baby.” KC and the Sunshine Band became the first act to score four No. 1 pop singles in a 12-month period since 1964, when the Beatles did it.

KC and the Sunshine Band’s third album, “Part 3,” released in 1976, also went triple platinum and contained the No. 1 singles “I’m Your Boogie Man,” “Shake Your Booty” and “Keep It Comin’ Love.”

The band’s string of hits continued with “Boogie Shoes,” which was included in the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack.

Expect Mr. Casey to rely on the band’s hits for his concert on Friday.

“I try to keep everything familiar to the audience,” Mr. Casey said. “I try not to do obscure cuts from an album. I know I hate that when I go to a concert and have to sit through that.”

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KC and the Sunshine Band disbanded in 1984 after the appropriately named “Give It Up” became a hit.

“I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore and retired for about 10 years or so and just started partying and caught up with life — caught up more than I should with life — and who I was and what I was and what I thought I wanted to be and do,” Mr. Casey said.

He remade KC and the Sunshine Band in 1993 following a reunion gig on “The Arsenio Hall Show.”

“I realized I left something that I truly loved and enjoyed,” Mr. Casey said.

He is working on two new albums. One will have 17 original songs and the other will contain 17 classic songs from the 1960s. He plans to perform some numbers from the ’60s album at his Watertown concert.

Mr. Casey’s Sunshine Band has a whopping 15 performers.

“It’s pretty much a high-energy uptempo show, with a few ballads,” Mr. Casey said of his concerts.

The group plays about 80 concerts a year.

He said that explaining the fans’ attraction to the band’s music is simple.

“The energy of the music is positive,” Mr. Casey said. “I think people are looking for positive stuff, especially today and to bring some positive energy to our lives.”

the details
WHAT: KC and the Sunshine Band with opening act The Village People as part of the 2013 DPAO/Toyota/Car-Freshner Summer Concert Series
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Friday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds Arena, 600 William T. Field Drive, Watertown
COST: Reserved tickets are $54 and $48. General admission is $44. Tickets may be ordered at www.dpao.org or by calling DPAO at 782-0044. The DPAO website notes there are higher fees for ordering online than if you call. General admission tickets also are available at most Kinney Drugs locations.
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