This year’s Pop the Cork gala Thursday, June 23 may be taking its cues from Miami’s fabulous South Beach but it will be capped by a blast from the past. Huey Lewis and The News will perform under a tent on the former Rockport Elementary School field and in addition to the multiple Number One hits the band enjoyed in its 1980s heyday, they will perform selections from their latest album that showcases ’60s and early ’70s-era soul.

The band has always been a bit out of time: its “overnight success” that spanned more than a dozen number one hits was some 15 years in the making. Created from the combo of two successful Bay Area bands, Huey Lewis and The News came together in 1979. Four years later, they released “Sports,” a still well-regarded album that sold 10 million and produced five Top 10 singles including “The Heart of Rock & Roll” and “If This Is It.”

The band has a couple of Grammies and even an Academy Award nomination (for “The Power of Love” from “Back to the Future”) and has been on the road for more than 30 years, delivering a live show that is legendary. Putting nine to, thanks to extra vocalists in Rockport, 11 musicians on stage can really tear off a roof. This won’t be a problem at Pop the Cork, of course, and Lewis, who lives in Montana these days, said he is looking forward to partying with his new record in Maine.

The band has played in Portland but has never been to the Midcoast. Lewis said his father’s family is from Massachusetts, so he likes doing shows in New England. He likes it even more when lobster is involved, although during the days the band was an opening act he learned to avoid filling up with the crustacean sensation right before a show.

“They always give you a meal between the sound check and the show, but when you’re an opening act, you end up eating just before you go on stage, so we usually didn’t. But in Maine, they give you lobster! So we stuffed ourselves and went out to play,” he said by phone from Chattanooga.

Lewis learned during that show that playing the harmonica on a full-of-lobster belly can make for, well, some air flow issues.

“Besides, playing the blues when you’re full of lobster just doesn’t seem right,” he said.

Huey Lewis and The News’ straight-ahead American rock has always had a bluesy edge. He said that can be attributed to his and his fellow longtime band mates — keyboard player Sean Hopper, drummer Bill Gibson and sax player Johnny Colla — having grown up when and where they did.

“Our parents were listening to psychedelia, so we rebelled by listening to KD[SK], which carried WDIA from Memphis, all the great hits on the R&B charts,” he said.

When the band went to record “Sports” and its 1986 follow-up “Fore!,” they eschewed the LA crowd and went with recording engineer Jim Gaines, who was Memphis-based and had worked for Stax Records, the preeminent soul music label in America and home to artists like Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Booker T & The MG’s and Isaac Hayes. So putting together last year’s “Soulsville” with Gaines at Memphis’ legendary Ardent Studios was in many ways coming full circle, especially as it brought back The News’ full horn section.

Rather than cover the Stax chestnuts, the band delved deeper into the catalog to find gems that deserved to be better known, selected some choice cuts and worked them up to perform them authentically. A strange thing happened: the songs sounded, well, like Huey Lewis and The News songs — and not because the band was twisting them out of their natural forms at all.

“The truth is, we were so influenced by this music at from the start, it just feels really natural to be playing it,” Lewis said.

They recorded the album live in the studio, with a minimum of overdubbing. Lewis said it didn’t take long to know it was the right choice to come to Memphis for the album. The result is a crown of 14 gems, not all from the Stax catalog but of that time and place. And, like most music of that time and place, the songs of “Soulsville” don’t run much longer than three minutes apiece. The band can play most of the album and all their big hits in a single concert, which makes for a fresh and lively mix for all.

“It is so much fun to play live, we’re really excited about it. This collection is really important to us,” he said.

It’s also important to Lewis that his audiences enjoy themselves, whether that means getting up and dancing or taking a more relaxed approach to concert-going, as he does these days.

“I like to sit in the big canvas chair with the cup holder for my drink, clap a little, lean over to my date and say, ‘that was really good,'” he said.

Pop the Cork attendees may need to take a seat by the time they get to the Huey Lewis and The News concert, which is set to start at 8 p.m. Pop the Cork begins at 5:30 p.m. under a tent overlooking Rockport Harbor. The tent will offer a raw bar and other delicious treats prepared by Lani Temple and her team from Megunticook Market; Temple and Cellardoor Winery owner Bettina Doulton co-produce the annual event, which benefits United Mid-Coast Charities. Kerry Altiero of Café Miranda also will be on hand with South Beach-inspired fare.

In keeping with the South Beach theme, salsa band Rumba Con Son will play a couple of sets of dance tunes, with a break in-between for some dragtastic entertainment from The Screaming Queens of New York City. Trolley service will be provided between the two venues and event parking at Camden Hills Regional High School on Route 90.

The ticket price of $75 includes admission to all events. Advance ticket purchases are required by calling Cellardoor at 763-4478 or online at Check-in to the event will be held at the Harbor Tent beginning at 5 p.m.

Lewis said he is looking forward to playing in Rockport and the possibility of a little fog blowing in doesn’t faze him at all, having grown up in San Francisco.

“I love the outdoors,” he said. “And I really love Montana — more cheese, less rats!”

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to