Aug. 16--Unlike many a veteran rock star, Harry Wayne Casey will tell you exactly what's on his mind.
The front man for disco giants KC and The Sunshine doesn't try hard to edit himself, or present a flawless, superhuman image.
"Right now, I'm a little over weight, I've been struggling with that. It's a huge problem for me right now," Casey said, speaking by phone from his home in Miami. "I'm trying to figure it out. I go to the gym every day --most of the time. I ride my bike. That's pretty much what I do. Then, I do these almost two-hour shows."
At an age when many entertainers are dialing back on their touring schedules, Casey is still out on the road regularly. He performs as many as 100 shows a year, according to an official bio. KC and The Sunshine Band are set to play Saturday night at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Casey described his current show as a high-energy revue that features his own hits -- "Get Down Tonight," "That's The Way (I Like It)" and "I'm Your Boogie Man," for instance -- as well as others from the disco era. He's also likely to toss in a newer tune by Cyndi Lauper or John Mayer and a nugget or two from the 1960s.
There is careful choreography in the show along with costume changes. His 15-member ensemble includes horn players and a pair of dancers.
Does he worry about living up to his own sweaty image, one forged decades ago when he was a bit wilder and a tad more vigorous?
"I think I do pretty well for a 62-year-old who's had back surgeries and stuff," Casey said. "It seems to matter more to the critics than the fans, whether I'm timeless."
He admits that bad reviews of his concerts get under his skin. "I'm really pissed off at this one critic right now," he said. "He was slamming me before I even got there. Then, after I got there, he slammed me again. I don't think people realize what it takes to put on these shows, what we've been through ... We're up there trying to give 100 percent.
"My voice is not going to be perfect every night. My band's not going to be perfect every night, because we're human, you know? Critics, I don't know what they expect us to be sometimes."
Casey didn't specify which critic got his goat, but it could have been John J. Moser, who blogs about music for The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., (a Tribune sister paper to the Daily Press).
"The show signaled early what it would be like when, opening with '(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty,' dancers pranced around in feather boas, then KC spent five minutes telling jokes about his age ('I'm 62 years old now. What the hell happened?') and weight (saying he quit smoking and gained so much weight that he's going to change the band's name to KFC and the Sunshine Band)," Moser wrote reviewing a recent show.
The critic identified other problems.
"KC also danced throughout the show, but it was more production numbers than any real disco dance floor moves," Moser wrote. "And much of it looked awkward. His effort to high kick with his female dancers and skip and spin around stage came off as if he was trying too hard."
In spite of the naysayers, Casey said he isn't about to slump off into the lazy life of a Florida retiree.
"Once you have this bug, you always have this bug," Casey said of performing. He left touring for 10 years, starting in the 1980s. After kicking drugs and alcohol, he whipped himself back into shape and returned to the stage.
"I just decided I wasn't doing what I really loved to do and what I wanted to do all my life," he said. "I slowly started getting back into it. The last 18 years have been a blessing, just a lot of fun."
Want to go?
Who: KC and The Sunshine Band
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
Where: Royal Palace Theatre, Busch Gardens, 1 Busch Gardens Blvd., Williamsburg
Admission: General admission is included with regular park admission. Single day park admission is $70 for ages 10 and up, $60 for ages 3-9.
More information: buschgardens.com
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