Musicianship definitely counts with the Right On Band, but the overriding goal of the 1970s show band is to entertain people and give them a good time.
“We’re more like a three-hour dance party,” said keyboardist Nigel Holland, who started the group in Virginia Beach 16 years ago.
The 10-piece band with dancers will return to the State Theatre in Falls Church on Sat. Dec. 21 for the State’s annual holiday charity show.
Formerly called Santa Jam, the event has been renamed the Winter Soulstice benefit concert and toy drive. Anyone who brings an unwrapped toy gets into the performance for free.
Donations should be new, nontoxic and meet consumer product safety codes. They will go to the Dr. Bear’s Toy Closet at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., which posts a wish list on its website.
State Theatre has been hosting holiday benefits since it opened about 15 years ago, and for the last five years has been sending toys to the hospital, said owner Tom Carter
“Half our work is for fundraisers,” said Holland, who performs with the band at private parties, weddings, college reunions and presidential inauguration parties.
“We play a Motown-disco blend,” Holland said about the repertoire of 70s classics such as “Love Train,” “YMCA,” “Superstition” “Last Dance” and “Carwash.”
“Most of the band sings .... and it’s live, there’s no lip syncing,” said Holland.
However, the band is best known for its “over-the-top costumes,” he said.
Frontman for the group, Holland takes the stage wearing glittering gold, 8-inch platform boots.
“They’re ridiculous!” he laughed.
But Holland is nearly outdone by the rest of the band, who walk through the crowd to reach the stage wearing sparkling bright colors of pink or red, or blue or white.
“They’re very flamboyant – bell bottoms and sequins – almost like a disco Liberace,” he said. “If people see us on TV, they instantly know it’s us.”
The self-described quarterback of the show, Holland’s real name is Michael Fafard. He grew up on Long Island and adopted the stage name of Nigel Holland while playing in college bands.
He was working as a finance officer for car dealerships when he lost most of his sight in a car accident in 1995. After moving to Virginia Beach with his family, he started the band in 1997, drawing on his years of music experience.
“All of this happened out of the accident,” said Holland, whose work now is very different.
“There are better bands, but they’re kind of boring,” he said. “We want people to say not how good the band was but how much fun they had.”