By Erin Crowell
When shaking it out on the dance floor, theres a pretty good chance the people surrounding you fall into the same demographic. At a club, 20-somethings challenge the term personal space. Casino? Probably a room full of adults chasing retirement, sporting a touch of gray.
When Risque performs, dont count on knowing which one will be dancing next to you.
When youre in this business so long, youre fortunate enough to get a diverse crowd, said Errol Sanders, bassist for the band Risque.
Since its start in 1983, Risque has been entertaining the Northern Michigan dance scene performing a variety of top 40 and R&B hits that span the decades.
We play a little bit of everything, Sanders said. Well, not everything. We do a little rock and roll, oldies, Motown; and that varies according to where were playing.
LONG RELATIONSHIP, LARGE SONGBOOK
While most bands see member turnover like celebrity marriages, Risque has managed to stay fairly solidified, with just a few minor changes and additions.
Today, Risque is Errol Sanders on bass, Yon Max-Aaron on keys, Steve Seward on drums and Rico Sneed on lead vocals and guitar.
Sneed is the newest memberjoining September 2003 after working the cruise ship circuitwhile Sanders and Aaron have been performing together since 85.
Steve our drummer has been in the band for almost 20 years, said Sanders, adding that consistency in the lineup allows for a larger songbook.
Risque sticks mostly to the R&B sounds, playing some of todays club hits from artists such as Ne-Yo, Usher and the Black Eyed Peas; but will also pull out the stuff you forgot, like the crunk songs of the early millennium such as Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins.
Depending on that nights crowd, the band might add some Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye or Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson.
We learn the new stuff and we revisit the songs we havent played in awhile, added Sanders. It rejuvenates us.
Rehearsals are also dependent on gigs. While most of the band members are in Traverse City, Sneed lives in Pittsburgh (a nine hour drive from Traverse). When Risque books a week of four to five gigsheld anywhere throughout the Midwest including Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvaniathe band uses the time to update songs and revisit the old ones.
Risque has found a following in Northern Michigan, said Sanders; and while their audience may change, the band will always see some re-visitors.
People will go out when they first turn 21 and do the bar scene for awhile, but then it gets old, said Sanders. We were around for them at that time. And, even though they have responsibilities now, like kids, theyre still coming out and seeing our shows. Its just more likely to be at the casino. Consequently, were playing for a lot of people, whether theyre 25 or 50.
Risque will ring in the New Year when they perform at Little River Casino, in Manistee, on Friday, Dec. 31; and again on Saturday, Jan. 1. Theyre also regulars at Holiday Inn West Bay. Visit risqueband.com for the bands entire schedule.