THE LITTLE BIG CEILIDH DUO is available to book for festival social ceilidhs and contras. The duo features the explosive playing of Eddy Jay on accordion and Mike Evans on fiddle. Mike and Eddy play a full repertoire of English country dance music and American contra tunes, and both are also fluent readers of standard notation, able to play any dance music visiting callers might require.
The London Carol Singers are a group of professional singers with an comprehensive repertoire of traditional Christmas carols and popular Christmas songs. For period festive atmosphere, the group dress in immaculate costume complete with top hats as Victorian Carolers and sing traditional carols, bringing the magical spirit of a Dickens’ Christmas to your event.
Earlier in the week we highlighted the mesmeric and exotic quality of Indian classical music as an attractively different and memorable form of entertainment at a wedding. Although the musical style is gaining general popularity outside of the Asian community in the UK, there isn’t as yet a huge number of top-quality Indian musicians performing at public or private events.
However, one of the best examples of a classical Indian band is Strings Sitar Fusion, who present a wonderful selection of of traditional acoustic music at all kinds of events, including weddings, all over the country.
Hire Strings Sitar Fusion for your wedding
As the name suggests, the ensemble’s unique, lilting sound is based around the evocative strains of a sitar, gently stating and supporting the melody and giving their music an unmistakable Indian feel. These expressive and inviting melodies are combined with the rhythmic drive of hand-played tablas to create the central pulse of the band.
This duo will suffice for more intimate occasions, providing low-key background music perfect for developing an interesting atmosphere at your drinks reception or during dinner. The band can easily augment to a trio or quartet, adding keyboard and then bass to the mix. Male or female vocals can additionally be provided to breathe life into the songs and give an other-worldly texture to the music where appropriate.
With such a wide range of options on offer, Strings Sitar Fusion are able to deliver a line-up appropriate to wedding parties of all sizes and provide entertainment suitable for any part of the day. In general the music is selected from the ragas of the Indian classical repertoire, alternating with melodious tunes and songs from the regional folk-music tradition, all spiced up with some Western and other interesting multicultural influences.
The ensemble provides all their own equipment, including, where necessary, a PA system suitable for most venues. They perform in traditional Indian dress, and are able to introduce a troupe of Indian dancers to their performance to enhance the visual spectacle and create an exciting main event.
The band has many years of experience, having been formed in 1994 by well-respected musicians Anu Shuklar and Kiran Thakrar. Kiran is a multi-talented keyboard player, composer and music producer, and has performed at more than 4000 concerts across the globe. Anu is the principal vocalist with a massive reputation, also acting as the creative director of the ensemble.
Having performed at a wide range of public and private events all over the world, Strings Sitar Fusion have the expertise and experience to put on a wonderful and memorable show at your wedding.
Strings Sitar Fusion specialise in playing a unique blend of Indian classical music that is perfectly suited to a wedding occasion. Driven by sitar and tablas, with the option to add further instrumentalists and vocalists if you require, the band has a wealth of experience and a burgeoning reputation developed over many years of live performance. If you are looking for an exotic, mesmerising and truly memorable musical backdrop or centrepiece to your wedding anywhere in the UK, look no further than Strings Sitar Fusion.
In Mandinkan, “jali” means musician and “kunda” means home. Jalikunda, then, means “musician’s home”. It’s an apt name for this vibrant group of young African musicians and dancers. Their performance blows new life into the ancient folk culture of their homeland in West Africa. As they travel across the globe, performing the music and dances of the land of their birth, their music takes them to their spiritual home!
The ancient musical traditions of West Africa trace their ancestry right back to the 13th century Malian Empire. The rich Mandinkan tradition of songs, stories and dance, with its central message of peace and harmony, has been preserved down the centuries by The Griots – a professional caste of musicians and storytellers who handed down the precious legacy from father to son and mother to daughter as the years rolled by.
The Mandinkan spirit is as alive today in the music of Jalikunda as it was way back then. Watch this video of Jalikunda’s performance at Montserrat African Musical Festival 2013 and judge for yourself …
Mamadou Cissoko, bandleader and virtuoso kora and djembe player, was himself was born in Lindiane, a leafy superb in the lush green region of Casamance, Southern Senegal. He inherited the Griot tradition from his mother’s family and in particular from his late grandfather, Jali Kemo Cissokho, who taught him to play the kora (the 22-stringed African harp) from the age of five.
The magical Mandinkan aural legacy of songs of praise, folk wisdom and shared history was nurtured down the centuries by a professional caste of musicians and storytellers called Jalis or Griots – historians, praise singers and master musicians. The spirit of their performance is suffused with an underlying traditional Griot message of communal harmony and brotherhood.
The present-day members of Jalikunda bring this ancient musical tradition bang up to date. In true Mandinkan musical style, their infectiously joyful and warm performance brings the audience and the performers together, communicating peace and love through the universal language of music.
West Africa stretches from the tropical equatorial forest of Guinea northwards to the more temperate but equally lush coast of Senegal. Eastwards, it snakes 700 miles along the winding River Gambia to the fabled outpost of Timbuktu in Mali, on the southern edge of the burning Sahara Desert. In the far north, the desert of Mauritania dominates, bordering on the Arab dominated Morocco.
West Africa contains ancient and modern histories as diverse as the changing landscape. In Gambia, the official language is English. In Guinea Bissau, Portuguese is spoken. In Senegal, Mali and Guinea it’s French. These colonial languages make communication easier for travellers as West Africans share literally hundreds of dialects and most speak at least a little of four or five languages.
Despite differences of geography and language, the ancient aural Mandinkan legacy of music and dance bubbles beneath the surface in all these places, providing a sense of shared culture that transcends this modern diversity.
On the 15th March, 2014, you can experience the warm and wild spirit of West Africa at Salem Cricket Ground on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, as the band takes part in the 2nd Montserrat African Festival. Come and watch, clap and sing – join in and experience the sense of togetherness the performance generates. It’s guaranteed to be an intoxicating experience!
The tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat places itself firmly on the map by hosting the 1st Festival of African Music to be held in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The successful inaugural opening of the annual festival took place on in March 2013, featuring Daby Taure – Afro-Pop voice of Mauretania- ably supported by Senegalese African drum and dance act – Jalikunda.
In 2014, the Montserrat African Festival is proud to feature the venerable Grand Master of South African music –Tuku – at the top of the bill. By popular request, Jalikunda returns to Montserrat to join this year’s festival line-up to provide a further burst of joyful and energising African dance and drums.
The open air concert takes place on March 15th on a specially constructed stage in the centre of Salem Cricket Ground. The music kicks off at around 8.00pm in the evening with the massive party continuing into the early hours of the morning. Find out more about the festival here:-
English catholics arrived on Montserrat from St Kitts in 1632 to set up the first colonial plantations. 17 years later, this tiny island the other side of the world provided the perfect place for English protestant republican Oliver Cromwell to dump his dissident political adversaries after the pacification of Ireland and Irish Catholics arrived by the boatload.
Plantations of tobacco, cotton and sugar require a large cheap manual labour force to run efficiently and profitably. Enter the slaves. From 1660, a steady flow of Africans captured along the Guinea coast, transported half way round the world and sold as slaves increased the population on Montserrat, often managed by Irish overseers.
In 1768, an insurrection by the slaves on St Pats Day, overcoming their Irish bosses who were partying in time-honoured Irish style was brutally put down. The slaves had to wait until 1834 for emancipation. The spirit of the oppressed black population represented by this failed uprising is a big part of the underlying spirit of the present day St Pats celebrations on Montserrat.
Until 25 years ago, Montserrat provided an idyllic home to 12,000 people. The island also hosted Sir George Martin’s paradise musical retreat for world pop and rock ‘n’ roll greats. The devastating destruction of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, followed by the eruption of a dormant volcano in 1995 changed all that.
A further cataclysmic volcanic eruption in 1997 that lead to 19 deaths sealed the island’s fate. The island’s economy was convulsed by the emergency. Two thirds of the population were forced to flee the island and today over half the island – including the capital city and the majority of the island’s original infrastructure – lies abandoned, buried in brown sea of mud and ash.
Montserrat now flies in the face of adversity to become the first location in the English speaking Caribbean to hold a musical celebration of the African roots of a large part of the population. The festival of part of an imaginative initiative by the Government of Montserrat to find new ways of kick-starting the island’s economy with a view to making the island economically self-supporting in the future.
Outside of Ireland itself, the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat is the only other place in the world to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with a public holiday. The island indulges in a week’s worth of festivities to celebrate the great Irish saint.
On Montserrat, the St Pat’s festivities have become a time for families to get together and for kids working abroad to come home to celebrate and visit friends and family. In many respects, the St Pat’s week has become a week to celebrate Montserrat’s identity. Since the majority of the population of the island has African roots – what better time to choose to hold a festival of African music?
Come back for more about Montserrat: the tiny island with a big story, to find out how this tiny island triumphs over adversity to present a unique modern twist of St Pats extending the brief to include the celebratation of the island’s African identity in time-honoured Irish St Pat’s tradition – with a great big, gi-normous party!
Istanbul has long been considered as being the gateway between East and West, a two-way portal for the exchange of goods, peoples and cultures. Once at the crossroads of Roman influence and home to many diverse ethnic traditions, when that great empire shrank, certain cultures grew to dominance, others were displaced, migrated or dispersed. Among these dispersed peoples, we find European Jews and other tribes which can be loosely grouped as Roma or Gypsy, often leading itinerant lives, fiercely independent and fiercely protective of their historic origins and culture.
Whereas Western European music, strictly governed by the Church of Rome (and of course Constantinople up until the incursion of Islam), developed along well-defined and well-documented lines, the diverse musical culture of the Eastern fringes retained many links with older traditions, so that to modern-day Western ears this music sounds at the same time exotic as well as strangely familiar.
Find a range of Eastern European Bands at Hop Till You Drop
Just as the classical Latin of Biblical times has evolved into the similar yet distinct modern ‘Romance’ languages found in Western Europe, so it is with the development of musical culture. Eastern European music sounds different because it developed in different regions and within different cultures, yet taken as a whole it shares certain fundamental features which make it recognisable and accessible to Western listeners.
The instruments nowadays played in a typical Gypsy or Jewish Klezmer ensemble are instantly recognisable – it is the idiom of the musical genre and style that is distinctive. Accordion, clarinet, violin, guitar, double-bass and piano frequently appear, much as they do in the popular and folk traditions of the West. Perhaps the only ‘alien’ sound unique to the culture is that of the cembalon, a hammer-dulcimer forerunner of the piano.
As with the music of other displaced peoples the world over (Afro-American Blues, Portuguese ‘Fado’ etc), Gypsy music reflects a deep-rooted melancholy which characterises much of the repertoire – songs of yearning for home, searching for something lost, a quest for identity. However, this definitive mood is regularly interrupted by bursts of fantastically joyous, fast and frenetic celebration music, as exciting and uplifting (and danceable) as any to be found around the globe.
As in certain other traditions where music is learnt aurally, passed on from player to player without reference to a standard written version, individuality in performance is a defining element in Roma and Gypsy music, with a strong emphasis on variation and improvisation, making each rendition to a significant extent unique, as in Western jazz.
Gypsy and Klezmer bands will readily switch from playing attractive, atmospheric background music as accompaniment to a formal meal or drinks reception, to an engaging, interactive performance of more up-tempo music for dancing later on.
At many events, a compact ensemble will perform background music for the earlier part of proceedings, sometimes playing their instruments acoustically, and then augment with further musicians (often including drums) and amplify their sound to achieve a full-on dance-band impact. Naturally, this highly-adaptable arrangement is ideal for a whole range of different social events.
The development of Eastern European music in some ways parallels that of the West, in other aspects has diverged over the intervening centuries. Whereas Western art music fairly rapidly became a literate culture, evolving, progressing and changing in a highly visible way, music in the East continued as a predominantly aural tradition and so developed along different, more organic lines. Shared instrumentation and regular dance-forms bring the cultures closer, but the instantly recognisable idiomatic and stylistic differences give Eastern European music its attractive, exotic quality and appeal.
Evocative and nostalgic to listen to, irresistible and effervescent to dance to, a Gypsy band will present a flexible, adaptable performance well-suited to entertain guests at almost any social event, from weddings and private parties to corporate functions and public festivities.
If you’re looking for an exotic carnival atmosphere at your party or special event, there is nothing quite like Samba drumming to get the party going.
An exotic melting-pot of cultures in the ever-expanding cities of South America gives us the Samba sound. In its energising riffs and rhythms, Hispanic Europe meets Africa with indigenous South American Indian influences thrown in for good measure.
Find out more about booking Bath based Jamma de Samba for your wedding
Find out more about booking a Samba band for your wedding at Hop Till You Drop Wedding Music Agency
The ancient musical culture of Spain and Portugal, dominated by Moorish influences and effectively cut off from Northern Europe by The Pyrenees, developed to an extent in isolation, and it was this music that the conquistadores brought with them as they ‘discovered’ South America. Later, slaves transported from Hispanic colonies in Africa introduced remnants of their respective cultures to the New World, and over countless generations the resulting musical cross-fertilisation gave rise to the emergence of a new popular musical identity which in Brazil eventually developed into Samba.
There are many different sub-genres of Samba continually evolving all over Latin America, and indeed across the world, as the popular impact of this unique music has in recent years been little short of meteoric.
Samba music can be performed on a wide variety of instruments, with the preponderance of percussion a key factor in its unique sound. In a typical samba troupe, melody and harmony is generally provided by a mixture of string, wind and brass against a prominent rhythm section comprised of anything from cowbells and bongos to tambourines and whistles. It’s an ordered cacophony of busy street-sounds to set the pulses racing and the hips gyrating.
As elsewhere, here in the UK full samba troupes are fairly large (ten or more performers) when compared with bands from other musical genres, although scaled-down groupings can be equally effective in smaller venues. The emphasis is strongly on interaction with their audience, and many outfits can showcase colourfully-costumed dancers to add a spectacular visual element to their performance. This all makes for a captivating entertainment focal point, a brilliant wow-factor centrepiece for a wedding reception, a birthday party or any other festive occasion.
Such has been its success over recent years, both domestically and globally, that Brazilian Samba can claim to represent the very essence and soul of South American popular culture as a whole. From an entertainment point of view, its joyous evocation of a carnival atmosphere combined with its sheer danceability make Samba a splendid and highly effective musical accompaniment to a wedding celebration, birthday party or similar social or corporate events.
If you want to introduce an exciting Rio carnival flavour to your celebration event and generate a vibrant atmosphere of joyous, interactive fun, Brazilian Samba Band would be right up your street. You and your guests can dance the night away to the infectious life-affirming sounds of Latin America after dark.
On Friday 1st November, Gabriel Fonseca and his Cuban friends from La Mono Band and Cuban Strings entertained a full house at the Jubilee Hall in Hartley Wintney. Read on to find out how the performance was received …
Imagine the good time vibe of the Buena Vista Social Club back in the `1940s and you come close to the atmosphere Gabriel Fonseca and his friends conjured up on a dark and dismal November Friday night at Hartley Wintney Jazz Club.
Find out more about booking Gabriel Fonseca and La Cuba Ritmo..
The performance generated the warmth and good humour of a hot sultry Cuban evening. Add in the infectious salsa beat and you can’t help getting that good-time holiday feeling. It’s a party from start to finish.
The evening opens with La Mono Band, ably accompanied by Gabriel himself on violin. Ingrid’s dusky voice and delightful looks and swaying hips charm us, while the sharp crisp rhythms from Mono’s bongos energise and excite. Salsa and Merengue set us all in the party mood. Add spare, tight chords from the keyboard and sonorous tones from Gabriel’s violin and the night really starts to get going.
The band performs a mix of dance rhythms and joyful folk songs. Sometimes Mono takes the lead, with soulful singing that touches the heart. Harmony singing adds to the feeling of community between the musicians on stage and with the audience.
Find out more about booking Gabriel Fonseca and La Cuba Ritmo..
In the second set, Cuban Strings – Gabriel’s guitar and violin duo, with a guest appearance by delightful young vocalist Laura – take us to a boulevard café in downtown Havana. We are entertained with simple but effective arrangements of folk tunes from the Caribbean and Southern America. Sometimes catchy and humorous, sometimes elegaic and soulful and sometimes high drama, we are enchanted by the musical trip.
Gabriel is joined on stage by Mike Evans, leader of The Pump Room Trio in Bath during the 1980s and the original violinist with the rock band Stackridge, who opened the very first Glastonbury Festival back in 1970. The ensuing musical badinage is one of the the highlights of the night. We find ourselves in the middle of a delightful light-hearted musical duel.
There is nothing quite like rivalry to sharpen up the playing! We are treated to musical virtuosity and witty exchanges from both players, each answering the other back with interest, featuring humorous references from Mike to the English tradition to which he is firmly rooted, skilfully woven into the complex sultry tropical rhythms.
Find out more about booking Gabriel Fonseca and La Cuba Ritmo..
The first set engaged the interest, the second set absorbed and enchanted: now we’re all really ready to step out – and so are the musicians! The evening ends with a thoroughly good, full-on party.
With Mono and Ingrid in full swing the party really gets into gear – and before you can say Jack Robinson, Hartley Wintney is on the dancefloor! English reserve is jettisoned in order to join in the Latin-American magic. For a short time, we forget our winter woes and bask in the Cuban musical sunshine.
Got the Winter Blues? You don’t need to visit the doctor for a tonic. Come to Hartley Wintney Jazz Club and join in Gabriel Fonseca’s Cuban musical extravaganza. It’s a totally reinvigorating, utterly refreshing burst of musical sunshine. We all want him and his band to come back so that we can do it again!
Commanding a delightful vantage-point above the River Severn in Gloucestershire, with outstanding views across to the Black Mountains in Wales, Old Down Manor is a tastefully-restored Victorian country house that presents a tranquil and idyllic setting for a sophisticated wedding celebration.
As a recommended supplier, Hop Till You Drop Wedding Music Agency offers a special bespoke service to Old Down Manor’s brides and grooms. Ring Jennie for expert technical advice about how to put together the most appropriate and cost-effective musical package to enhance your forthcoming wedding celebrations. HTYD offers a special 10% discount to couples marrying at Old Down Manor.
Live music provides a brilliant way to stamp your individual personality on your special day. Whether you go for Ritzy glamour with vintage swing jazz, elegant formality with classical music, country-style informality with traditional folk music, perhaps choose the exotic route with the sounds of world music or dance the night away to a selection of all-time pop classics, all these options and more are available.
There’s many ways to jazz it up. New Orleans-style Dixieland Trad Jazz creates a carnival atmosphere at your post-ceremony drinks reception. It’s a perfect way to liven up your canapés and champagne on the terrace while the photographer clicks away. Listen to The Dixieland Jazzmen in action:-
Dixieland Jazzmen play Pasadena
Dixieland Jazzmen play Pennies From Heaven
Dixieland Jazzmen play Polly’s Drag
Find out more about booking The Dixieland Jazzmen for your wedding
Prefer the more suave and sophisticated strains of luxurious and glamorous Swing Jazz? 45th Street Swing can provide a trio to support the dulcet tones of Ratpack crooner James Lambert. Watch James and the guys performing ‘Let’s Get Lost’:-
Find out more about booking 45th Street Swing for your wedding
Latin Jazz introduces you to the sultry rhythms of South America. If ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ with a Bossa beat is your bag, Sirius B gives you salsa, Brazilian-style. The band personnel can be tailored to produce exactly the right sound in the Orangery as night falls.
Listen to Sirius B performing Latin Jazz classics:-
Sirius B plays Batucada
Sirius B plays Girl From Ipanema
Sirius B plays Mais Que Nada
Find out more about booking Sirius B for your wedding
Holding your drinks reception in the imposing hallway? A string quartet or harpist will enhance the sweeping elegance of the surroundings and will add a light-hearted, joyful sense of celebration to the event. Here’s The Classic String Quartet performing Purcell’s famous ‘Rondo’:-
Find out more about booking The Classic String Quartet for your wedding
In the 21st century, the world has become a very small place. Lend your celebration an unusual and original twist by bringing the world to your wedding through music.
When Western pop and jazz encountered the traditional music of India, Bollywood music was born. Bollywood Grooves bring you an unusual and exotic way to enliven your drinks reception. See and hear the band in action below:-
Find out more about booking Bollywood Grooves for your wedding
Bring sunshine and carnival magic to your wedding with a Caribbean Steel Band. Whatever the weather, your guests will be smiling! The Rainbow Steel Band can readily provide a duo or trio to perform for you. Watch the band perform at The Royal Bath and West Show:-
Find out more about booking The Rainbow Steel Band for your wedding
Prefer to party in traditional English, Scottish or Irish style? Jigs and reels combined with tried-and-tested Irish favourites is the perfect way to break the ice and get the party going.
Want organised dancing, ceilidh or barndance style? No worries! The band will bring a specialist dance-caller, who will tailor the steps and moves to fit the available space in the Orangery. Here’s Brand of Fire Ceilidh Band wowing the crowd during Cheltenham Gold Cup Week:-
Find out more about booking Brand of Fire Ceilidh Band for your wedding
If pop party favourites are what you’re after, then here’s a couple of hip-gyrating options that will easily fit in the space and won’t necessarily break the bank.
An acoustic duo provides an unusual take on the pop-mix formula. Great for performing atmospheric background music during the earlier stages of the day, The Alfie Kingston Duo will also get the crowd going at your evening celebration. Here they are, doing just that:-
Find out more about booking The Alfie Kingston Duo for your wedding
Of course, if you really want the full-on Soul / Funk experience, Cheltenham band Firefly offers a flexible setup which can be adapted to suit the space available in the Orangery and which will also fit any budget. Available from a trio to a full eight-piece complete with horn section, these guys have the experience and know-how to keep the dancefloor full all through the evening. Watch Firefly in action:-
Find out more about booking Firefly for your wedding
Live music will enliven the atmosphere at your evening party and make it a truly memorable occasion. Salsa and samba to your heart’s content with a Latin-American Jazz band, swing your partner round and round in an old-fashioned country barndance or ceilidh, or dance the night away to a well-chosen medley of iconic pop favourites from the ’50s to the present day.