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Risque

Erin Crowell - December 27th, 2010
Risque’s Long & Winding Road : Masters of R&B look back on 27 years
By Erin Crowell
When shaking it out on the dance floor, there’s 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, don’t count on knowing which one will be dancing next to you.
“When you’re in this business so long, you’re 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 we’re 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 member—joining September 2003 after working the cruise ship circuit—while 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 today’s 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 night’s 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 haven’t played in awhile,” added Sanders. “It rejuvenates us.”

TRAVEL TIME
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 gigs—held anywhere throughout the Midwest including Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania—the 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, they’re still coming out and seeing our shows. It’s just more likely to be at the casino. Consequently, we’re playing for a lot of people, whether they’re 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. They’re also regulars at Holiday Inn West Bay. Visit risqueband.com for the band’s entire schedule.

 
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