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!
Bollywood Grooves present Indian Bollywood music at its very best. Look forward to being entranced by exotic and eminently danceable Indian Bollywood classics and latest hits, performed with panache and presented in colourful costume that not only creates a brilliant visual spectacle, but also sets toes tapping, filling the dance floor.
Bollywood music is a synthesis of ancient Indian music and dance tradition with the technicolour romance and magic of Bollywood cinema. Thus old meets new, creating a vibrant fusion of Western pop culture and jazz with venerable Indian music and dance-forms. It is the perfect musical vehicle for an Indian-themed party.
Find out more about booking a live band for your wedding.
Bollywood Grooves present you with the most popular Bollywood classics, performed with an energy and excitement that is guaranteed to fill the dancefloor. The basic five-piece line-up is comprised of male or female vocalist, sitar, keyboard, saxophone and Indian percussion / drums.
For larger events, the band can include both male and female vocalists, and is also able to introduce a troupe of exotic Indian dancers that combine with the musicians in a spectacle that brings the Bollywood musical film to life before your very eyes.
For smaller Indian-themed events and drinks receptions, the band can provide a sax – tabla duo to set the scene, Bollywood style. The Indian theme is firmly established as your guests enter the room.
If dancing is required at a small event, the band can perform as a trio, comprising singer, keyboard and Indian percussionist, to get the party going.
Ancient Sanskrit Drama, the traditional Folk theatre that became popular in India from the 10th century onwards, and Parsi Theatre, although each very different from the other in their individual realisation, are unified in their presentation of drama as a combined theatrical fusion of music, dance, narrative and spectacle.
This strong Indian tradition of narrating stories, myths, legends and fairytales through music, dance and song found a ready-made cinematic vehicle in the unashamedly romantic Broadway and subsequent Hollywood Musical genre which had developed from the 1930s – 1950s and entertained in a very similar way.
The very name ‘Bollywood’ is itself an unambiguous form of homage to its earlier counterpart – the American Hollywood-based movie business. Since its inception in the 1930s, the Indian film industry has maintained the all-singing, all-dancing musical comedy and musical epic as central genres that have become so popular across the Asian sub-continent and beyond that the international audience for Bollywood films now far exceeds that of their American counterparts.
The songs that have been popularised in the Bollywood musical films of the last five decades have become popular in their own right across the Indian sub-continent. Bollywood music has become a form of Indian national pop culture that fuses Western pop styles with traditional Indian musical forms.
Hollywood itself has further popularised the Bollywood musical film genre by weaving the form into hit films such as ‘Moulin Rouge’ and most recently using it as the basis for the box-office smash ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’. These films have created a new world-wide coterie of fans for Bollywood music.
Reaching back into the mists of time in India, myth, legend and fairytale have always been presented in a colourful, dramatic form that alternates and interweaves narrative, music and dance in a combined theatrical spectacle.
Bollywood music combines this ancient Indian tradition with modern pop music. Ideal for an Indian-themed party, Bollywood Grooves’ presentation of the Bollywood phenomenon provides an enchanting musical vision of modern India.
Accomplished London Jazz Diva Kai Hoffman presents Kai’s Roaring Twenties Extravaganza. It’s Kai’s tribute to the vibrant and exciting period that saw a new form of music – Jazz – catch on across the world. The period brought freedom for modern women who shingled their hair and stepped into simple easy- to-wear fashions that sent hemlines flying upward, freeing unencumbered limbs to let rip with exuberant risqué new jazz-influenced dances like The Charleston, The Black Bottom and the Lindy Hop.
Find out more about booking Kai’s Roaring Twenties Extravaganza.
Resident singer at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Kai’s mellifluous voice and gripping stage presence presents the perfect vehicle for trademark songs from the ‘20s such as ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’, and the experienced musicians that comprise her band recreate the evocative sounds that characterise the Birth of Jazz with panache and hard-earned professionalism.
The advent of radio is the key to the Jazz Age. Eager listeners across America, Europe and the British Isles tuned in regularly to popular music shows broadcasting the innovative music from the exciting pioneer jazz clubs in New Orleans, Chicago and New York. The craze for Dixieland Jazz, Ragtime and Big Band sounds spread rapidly across America, and smash-hit movies like The Jazz Age confirmed the epidemic, not just in New York, but in London and Paris too. Soon anyone who wanted to be considered ‘hip’ was strumming hot rhythms on the banjo, with the double-bass holding down the harmony and a vibrant bouncing interweaving topline from clarinet, trumpet and trombone, stretching out on ‘The St Louis Blues’ and recent Broadway hits such as ‘Tea for Two’.
Kai brings you the excitement and restlessness of the ‘20s through a soulful and sparkling rendition of the songs that epitomised the period. At a large 1920s-themed event, Kai can set the mood with a full six-piece band, featuring London’s finest horn-players on trumpet, clarinet and trombone, ably supported by double-bass and tasteful drums. You can be sure that her audience will be on the dancefloor, kicking up their heels in no time! Perhaps you are organising a Tea-Dance for a smaller, more intimate group. Kai can scale down her performance, presenting a captivating duo of vocals accompanied by 1920s ragtime-style piano.
Whether performing at an intimate afternoon tea-dance or a full-scale ‘20s-themed Ball, Kai and her musicians have the repertoire and musical experience to fit the bill. If ballroom etiquette is on the agenda, in ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ style, Kai and the band have a comprehensive repertoire of strict-time dances at their fingertips. Old stalwarts like the Waltz and the Foxtrot are no problem, and ‘20s innovations such as Tango and Quickstep can be central to the themed performance.
It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that SWING! You can’t keep your feet still once the Jazz vibe gets going. With the brash new music and the daring new fashions came convention-defying new dances that swept the world. Soon everyone who was anyone was kicking up their heels to The Charleston and learning risqué new dance-moves like The Shimmy. Guys and gals thought nothing of shocking Granny and upsetting their parents by frequenting fashionable night-clubs to dance The Black Bottom and The Lindy Hop.
It was postwar – an edgy, exciting, fast-paced time that kicked out the past and eagerly fell in love with all that was modern and new. Short simple loose clothes allowed easy movement, and arms and legs kicked and swung with the syncopating rhythms of the music. Girls who dressed and danced in this way were nick-named Flappers.
In the 1920s, emancipated modern women shocked their senior relatives by bobbing their hair, slipping on simple short flapper dresses decorated with elaborate feather boas and eye-catching feather head-dresses and chiffon scarves. Kai and the guys help you set the atmosphere by dressing with great care and attention to detail in authentic 1920s style. The guys will present in sharp ‘20s style suits, or full formal evening dress, if the occasion demands. Kai herself will dress to kill in full flamboyant 1920s manner.
Dressed in keeping with the period, Kai’s Roaring Twenties Extravaganza provides the perfect musical backdrop for 1920s-themed Tea-Dances and formal Balls.
Both the camera and the microphone loved that consummate performer, Frank Sinatra. His velvet-textured larynx and unique romantic style won him worldwide acclaim, coupled with the notoriety of the celebrity lifestyle he led and the ‘Ratpack’ company he kept. Along with Fred Astaire, he was Hollywood’s leading man of the Swing Jazz era.
A hard act to follow, equally difficult to emulate. However, with his ‘Salute To Sinatra’ Gary Grace offers the next best thing in a magical tribute to the great entertainer.
Find out more about booking Gary Grace Frank Sinatra Tribute Band for your wedding.
With 30 years’ performance experience in the music industry, Gary has built a reputation as one of the most highly-regarded popular singers in the UK. Natural vocal ability, an affinitive gift for mimicry and a magnetic stage-presence all combine wonderfully in this homage to his principal hero.
This is splendid entertainment for a wedding reception party. You can expect to hear all the iconic swing jazz classics in an uncannily pitch-perfect replica of Sinatra’s interpretations of ‘My Way’, ‘Mack The Knife’, ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ – the list goes on.
Sinatra’s extensive back-catalogue is eclectic and varied in style, making his music ideal accompaniment to different stages of a wedding celebration. Laid-back soulful jazz during the champagne reception or formal meal can make way for more high-energy, up-tempo arrangements for dancing later on.
If unalloyed Sinatra isn’t quite enough, Gary Grace can widen his repertoire to include other artists of international repute, such as Tony Bennett, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Matt Monro, in his ‘Tribute to the Kings of Swing’ show.
You don’t have to be Scottish to appreciate Scotland (although it probably helps). The breathtaking natural beauty of the landscape, both lowland and highland, combined with the historical mystique of a powerful, colourful, unique and indomitable culture, lends the territory north of the border an unparallelled attraction steeped in nostalgia and tradition.
Such a romantic kaleidoscope of vivid imagery makes an exciting and inviting wedding theme, the more so if there happen to be any Scottish connections in either or both families.
In keeping with its proud history, Scotland boasts a rich tapestry of traditional music and dance within its fiercely-preserved culture, and this can offer a hugely enjoyable opportunity for wedding entertainment in true Scottish style.
Find out more about booking a Scottish band for your wedding.
No Scottish-themed wedding or anniversary celebration would be complete without a rousing ceilidh as the finale to the day’s proceedings. As traditional as bagpipes, kilts and haggis, a ceilidh is a session or two of organised country dancing to the music of a live band playing energetic Celtic dance-tunes.
The dancing is supervised by an experienced instructor or ‘caller’ who explains and demonstrates the various steps and moves for each new dance. Don’t worry if some of your guests have never been to a ceilidh before – the caller will be able to tailor the dances to suit their ability level, ensuring that even Sassenachs with two left feet can join in the fun!
Ceilidh dancing is an extremely popular social activity all across Scotland, and indeed the UK as a whole, and not just at weddings. Many an enjoyable evening is whiled away ‘Stripping The Willow’ to favourite tunes like ‘The Flowers Of Edinburgh’ and ‘My Love Is But A Lassie’.
If there’s a single national instrument that summons up the essence of Scotland, it would the bagpipes, and if you want a wedding with a real Scottish flavour, having a bagpiper in full national regalia to announce the arrival of the bride (and other important moments during the day) would be an excellent idea.
Bagpipes occasionally feature in ceilidh bands, but the accordion is a more regular choice to drive the music along. Add fiddles and maybe flute to carry the tune, and piano, bass and drumkit to pin down the rhythm, and there you have a typical Scottish ceilidh band line-up. The exciting tempo and infectious rhythm of the traditional dance-tunes quickly gets people up on their feet, ready for ‘The Gay Gordons’ or ‘The Dashing White Sergeant’.
For an inspirational wedding theme steeped in romance and heritage, you can’t go far wrong following the traditional Scottish example of how to celebrate your marriage in style. The Gaelic word ‘ceilidh’ loosely translates to ‘a visit’, or ‘a gathering of the clan’ – and if a wedding celebration isn’t precisely that, then precisely what is it?
This Bristol-based country and rockabilly band take their name and their musical inspiration from the iconic Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, USA. Successfully recreating an authentic Midwest sound is the foremost criterion in evoking the true spirit of American country music, and the band’s empathetic geographical location within the UK is a positive influence!
Performing an infectious blend of energetic musical styles that will keep the dancefloor full all night, Ponchartrain is the ideal band to entertain guests at a wedding reception, especially a party with an American theme.
Find out more about booking Ponchartrain for your wedding.
Ponchartrain’s music immediately summons up a whole encyclopaedia of iconic, historic American imagery; the vastness of the landscape, the fragility of life in a pioneering environment, the lonely sound of the train-whistle pushing ever further westward, on to the Pacific, down to Mexico.
The birthpangs of a new civilisation rediscovering its limitations and reinventing its roots are encapsulated in the great folk storytelling tradition which is celebrated in American Country Music. Ponchartrain aim to keep that tradition alive and kicking in 21st century Britain.
Ponchartrain will get toes tapping and hips swinging from the very first chord they strike up, filling the dancefloor with their infectious blend of melodic and rhythmic styles. For many years now, the band have taken their music to audiences all round Britain and into Europe, performing at innumerable weddings, private parties, pubs, clubs and festivals.
Guitar and double-bass lay the ground rhythm, with accordion, dobro and fiddle colouring the melodic line, all topped off with sparkling harmony vocals delivering the lyric narrative. All this adds up to vintage Country Music, amplified through a high-quality PA system suitable for all but the largest venues. The musicians also dress the part, and encourage their audiences to do likewise!
If you’re looking to create an evocative atmosphere with an emotive American Western flavour at your wedding celebration, then Ponchartrain is just the band for you. Performing a selection of Nashville, Rockabilly, Bluegrass and Country classics, these excellent musicians deliver an infectious and entertaining show that will have your reception party rocking!