River Festival

Wichita Riverfest 2015: Village People still having a great time

The Village People’s classic songs include “In the Navy” and “YMCA.” They will perform at Riverfest on Wednesday.
The Village People’s classic songs include “In the Navy” and “YMCA.” They will perform at Riverfest on Wednesday. Courtesy photo

It’s been 20 years since Eric Anzalone, 49, agreed to don biker gear and belt out such classics as “Macho Man” and “YMCA” with the Village People, who will perform Wednesday at Riverfest.

Anzalone, who was in several metal bands, answered an ad in the Village Voice. “ ‘A well-known group looking for a singer with a passport’ was the lone line in the ad,” Anzalone said. “I thought, ‘Why not check this out?’ ”

Anzalone of New Jersey, who is the married father of a teenage daughter, went from one well-known group, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to the Village People.

“Talk about a transition,” Anzalone said. “I’ve just been so fortunate, because I love the music, the audience, everything about the Village People. We bring such great joy to people. That’s what it’s all about. Look at ‘Macho Man.’ The song has an amazing hook. I’m a guitar guy, and I just love the chord progression.

When Anzalone joined the Village People, he figured he would sing such classics as “Go West” and “In the Navy” for a brief period before hooking up with another headbanging band.

“I thought I would do this for five years and move on,” Anzalone said. “But when I experienced the reaction fans have, I wanted to do this for the long haul. I get to play dress-up, where leather and chains and I don’t have to shave. The rules are all different for me. I see people smile and dance. This is awesome. I make people feel good. It doesn’t matter that I’m not gay. It doesn’t matter whether those who are into the Village People are gay or straight. What matters is that we all love music, and we’re having a great time. That’s what the Village People is all about.”

And then there is the camaraderie between Anzalone and his Village People bandmates: singers Felipe Rose and Alex Briley, who are the lone original members; lead vocalist Ray Simpson; and Bill Whitefield and Jim Newman.

“We all enjoy each other’s company,” Anzalone said. “They all make it easy to do what we do.”

If You Go

Village People

When: 9 p.m. June 3 (5-8:30 p.m. DJ Carbon and Guests)

Where: Kennedy Plaza

Admission: Admittance with Riverfest button ($10)

More music at Kennedy Plaza Stage

Go to wichitariverfest.com for latest info on concerts

May 29

8-10 p.m.: Wichita Symphony Orchestra with special guest Karla Burns

May 30

3-4 p.m.: Blu Revival

4:30-5:30 p.m.: Mike Engdal Band

6-7 p.m.: Andy T & Nix Nixon Band

7:30-8:30 p.m.: Holy Ghost Tent Revival

9-10:30 p.m.: Robert Randolph & The Family Band

May 31

The Coleman Country Concert Starring Easton Corbin

3:45-4:45 p.m.: Adam Capps & The Dirt Road Drifters

5:15-6:15 p.m.: Mountain Deer Revival

6:45-8 p.m.: Logan Mize

8:30-10 p.m.: Easton Corbin

June 1

Gospelfest

5:30-7:30 p.m.: local gospel performers

8-9 p.m.: Erica Campbell

June 4

Big Easy Concert With Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires

5:30-6:30 p.m.: Big Red Horse

7-8 p.m.: Monophonics

8:30-10 p.m.: Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires

June 5

A Salute to Aviation Starring Flogging Molly

5-5:30 p.m.: Souveneers

6-7:00 p.m.: Carrie Nation & The Speakeasy

7:30-8:30 p.m.: The Devil Makes Three

9-10:30 p.m.: Flogging Molly

June 6

Spirit Aerosystems Rockin’ on the River With Mayer Hawthorne & DJ Jazzy Jeff

2:30-3:30 p.m.: Slow Ya Roll

4-5 p.m.: Rudy Love Jr.

5:30-6:30 p.m.: Amerigo Gazaway

7-8:30 p.m.: DJ Jazzy Jeff

9-10:30 p.m.: Mayer Hawthorne

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