Shake Your Groove Thing • The Lowcountry’s new Disco Fever band revives the fun and funky sounds of the ’70s
Author: Blanche T. Sullivan
What could be more fun and funky than psychedelic polyester pantsuits, towering platforms and groovy retro tunes that get you smilin’ like a fool and shake, shake, shakin’ your booty? Thanks to long-time local entertainer, Tommy Beaumont, and his energetic band mates, those longing to relive their Saturday Night Fever days can dust off their Donna Summer records, don their bell-bottoms or hot pants and “Do A Little Dance.”
For more than 20 years, Beaumont, president of Beaumont Music, has been providing memorable entertainment, representing a variety of genres, on Hilton Head Island, throughout South Carolina and across the southeastern part of the U.S. His latest musical endeavor, Disco Fever, made its inaugural foray onto the Lowcountry music scene via a rousing performance at the 2009 Bluffton Village Festival, which took place in May.
So what inspires an accomplished musician, who used to own a “Disco Sucks” T-shirt and has produced dozens of CDs—from jazz and rock tunes to Caribbean Christmas and Christian music—to suddenly decide to emulate the Bee Gees or KC and the Sunshine Band?
“Last summer, in 2008, a friend had a 50th birthday party at Moss Creek. We all wore these ’70s costumes to the party and then went out on the town to the Electric Piano and other places. A million people were coming up, laughing, wanting to get their pictures taken with us. It was a riot. I thought, we should do this all the time,” Beaumont recalled.
Due to economic challenges, he and his wife of 20 years, Terri, had gotten into real estate, moved to Pennsylvania, then returned to the Lowcountry in 2008 to make another go at it in an area they missed and love.
“I did conventions for years, sit down deals, relied on rental properties for income. It was not getting it covered. We came back here last year and it was like being a kid again,” Beaumont said. “I turned 50 and got into this disco thing. It was kind of scary,” he added with a smile.
In order to prepare for his band’s funky new identity, Beaumont, who is also a Chilly Willy Band alum, spent months immersing himself in everything disco related.
“I was learning the music, studying the dance steps, checking out the costumes, etc. It was a lot of work,” he said. “Some of the music, from bands like ABBA, is pretty complex. [The song] ‘Dancing Queen’ is a huge undertaking. It has tons of horns, sound effects…the orchestration is unbelievable.”
Disco Fever combines all the traditional disco elements you know and love (don’t deny it!)—mesmerizing disco lights, clever choreography and sparkly, stereotypical ’70s costumes, with humorous skits and enough light-hearted interaction to get even the most subdued crowd on its feet, movin’ and groovin’.
And while the Disco Fever band is new, its four members are certainly no strangers to the entertainment industry, but are more commonly recognized as members of the band known as Tommy and the Beaumonts.
Tommy Beaumont, who has performed at every hotel and clubhouse on Hilton Head Island, serves as Disco Fever’s keyboardist and provides lead vocals. His alter ego, “Tony Revolta,” makes a white pantsuit appearance to perform “Stayin’ Alive,” the tune immortalized by John Travolta in the film Saturday Night Fever. In addition to live performances, Beaumont has produced numerous CDs; his music has been featured on The Weather Channel and used in promotions by prominent businesses such as Jenny Craig, Cooking Light magazine and PBS.
Terri Beaumont provides lead vocals and percussion. Experienced in dance, theater and song writing, Terri is known for her “Mermaid Review,” performed at Hilton Head Island’s Coligny Plaza, and has released CDs that have received substantial air play on Adult Contemporary Christian Radio.
Ricky Stokes also lends lead vocals, as well as his guitar skills and robust, crowd entrancing energy to Disco Fever and often throws in some rock numbers as part of a comical skit introducing Beaumont’s alter ego, “Tony Revolta.”
Lauren McMannus Castillo, the winner of the 2008 Savannah American Idol Competition, serves up lead vocals that have been heralded as rivaling sounds synonymous with legends such as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. A former dance teacher, McMannus Castillo also choreographs the band’s groovy moves.
Disco Fever fans can except to hear all the major dance hits by notorious artists such as the Village People, Donna Summer, KC and the Sunshine Band, the Commodores, the Bee Gees, Cool & the Gang, the Tramps and many others.
Beaumont, a father of three, Rachel (17), Jacob (15) and Rebecca (12), says he is humbled and thrilled that the band has been well received. “People, especially this new generation, are discovering how fun disco is. It is really seeing a revival,” he said.
What do his kids think of their dad disco-in’ down? “They think it is pretty cool,” said Beaumont. “I mean, anything Dad does can only be so cool,” he added with a laugh.
In addition to performing at festivals and popular area clubs, such as the Shoreline Ballroom (shorelineballroom.com), Disco Fever can be booked for private parties. The band will even offer suggestions regarding where participants can find appropriate costumes and party favors.
But don’t take them too seriously. Disco Fever is all about offering quality entertainment with a few laughs—having folks get off their feet and have a great time. “Half the fun of the gig is just walkin’ into the club,” said Beaumont. “We love walkin’ in before a show, all decked out in our costumes, and mingling with the crowd. It’s a blast.”
For more information, visit tommybeaumont.com, call (843) 757-2111, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.