Live music for your party

We get a lot of enquiries and bookings for parties. This ranges from the Wedding evening party, to anniversary lunchtime parties, 18th birthday parties and anything upwards to 90th birthday parties (yes, ceilidhs with dancing even, though that not all the guests are of that sort of advanced age!) 

People are often looking for different party ideas from all their friends. Although we are taking lots of bookings for hire 1000+ pounds, as a percentage of the parties that are happening throughout the UK, those with live music are relatively small percentage. Many more people will play CDs through their iPod into their own equipment or hire a DJ. So if you’re looking for an exceptional party idea that will impress all your friends and have them talking about it for years, go for a live music group.

 So one place to start is to think of a party theme. Perhaps you are, or your parents or grandparents are Scottish or Irish (and I suppose I should say Cornish or Welsh as well, although in terms of music it is normally the Scottish and Irish that is thought of as Celtic). So you may organise a Celtic party with a wild party band or Scottish ceilidh band reminding people of what the Celts are about! Perhaps you like the thought of the hay bales and cowboy hats scenario, so you could arrange an American barn dance or hoedown party.  

You could go to the other extreme and have something very old-fashioned like a jazz tea party band, or something that reminds you of your childhood and going to the circus, with a circus themed birthday party band. (At least one of our jazz bands had musicians who have also performed in circus bands, sometimes in the UK but also around the world. Circuses come back into fashion, but at the high quality end, and many of the will circuses have very high quality bands.) 

So when you are scratching your head about what to do for your wedding party night or trying to get some party event ideas or corporate party ideas, it can be helpful to first of all fix on your theme. Sit down somewhere quiet and think about what sort of party you would enjoy going to yourself. Think back over the films you seen in the past that you have enjoyed and could you make a theme based on that. Try to remember parties you been to that of been fun. Have they had themes and could use those directly or perhaps modify them to suit your birthday party or your company’s party?

Of course, you may have some wacky ideas that nobody else would enjoy, so go talk to your friends or other people in the company about some new ideas. Ask them for their ideas, but be very low-key and noncommittal so people don’t get miffed if their pet idea doesn’t get taken up. Test the water. Any idea that is going to run is going to need at least 60 or 70% of the people who are going to be at the event being enthusiastic about it. If you have that many, then those who didn’t like the idea will get carried along in the flow on the night and will have a good time in the end. 

Another kind of party that has come into vogue in recent years is the street party. I don’t know when the start of the street party fashion was, though I expect it was probably at the end of the Second World War? With the millennium celebrations and various royal events, people have been looking for Street party ideas, and we have had jazz bands and jazz duos and trios, mostly from the swing era, providing entertainment. 

Another common type of party event is the charity party. This can range from the major national charities, to small local charities and even parties to raise funds for individuals to go abroad to take part in worthy causes, where they have to finance the trip themselves. Often it is parents organising the event on behalf of their son or daughter who is taking a gap year and joining an aid organisation.

 People sometimes get confused between bands who advertise themselves as performing at parties, and maybe call themselves wedding party bands (meaning that they are bands who frequently play at parties), and band advertising themselves as ‘party bands’, which is the terminology for a pop band of a specific style, typically playing a range of music from different periods and pop history. There is no such thing as a birthday party band, Christmas party bands or after party band per se, even though one often hears the term. What is meant by this are bands, be they jazz bands, function bands or barn dance bands that are used to playing at parties of various types as opposed to bands who predominantly perform at public concerts. There is quite a difference between playing at a birthday party or wedding party and playing at a festival were to public classical music concert. Many bands who do one well are not very good at the other (of course there are exceptions, there are bands who can do both styles equally well). But make sure that whatever classical ensemble, jazz or pop band you book has plenty of experience performing at your type of event, which will probably require much more inventiveness and flexibility and efficiency in setting up quickly and is required for a formal concert festival.

So far I have discussed commonly thought of upbeat kinds of live music, but what about a string quartet? They play music from the shows, some play pop covers, and certainly people have sometimes booked one of our string quartets for a party.