The KC & the Sunshine Band show at the Merriweather Post Pavilion last night had nothing to do with the current disco corruption of black dance music. The show was a throw-back to the glorious days of the Motown and Stax Records soul revues 12 years ago.
All the ingredients were there: Baptist preacher vocals, unison horn blasts, "chunka-chunka" rhythm guitar, twirling choreography and a beat that wouldn't quit.
The best moments came in the first set. Former Broadway prodigy Stepheanie Mills was scheduled to open, but was replaced at the last minute by Sunshine Band protege Jimmy Bo Horne. Horne proved to be a raw southern soul singer in the tradition of Otis Redding and Sam & Dave.
Horne had the style: He fell down on his knees and shuddered at the end of "Without You," a ballad lament; he slid off his jacket to reveal a sweatstained shirt on the uptempo "Going Home for Love," He had the voice; His baritone belted out from his rotund belly; it dipped into a bear-growl bass and slipped up to a shimmering falsetto.
Howard Casey -- the KC of the Sunshine Band -- is white but has a natural instinct for black dance music. He isn't nearly the singer Horne is, but Casey and Sunshine bassist Richard Finch compose exceptional dance numbers. When they covered the Four Tops' "It's the Same Old Song" last night, it fit right in with their originals.
Casey offered no themes weightier than "Shake Your Booty" and "Get Down Tonight." But he pursued those themes so inspiringly with his 12-person band that there was no denying their importance; There's no need to feel nostalgic for Redding and the Four Tops when Horne and Casey are around today.