Specialist organisers of barn dance bands, ceilidh bands and folk/dance/concert groups throughout the UK

© 2018 Jigs 'n' Reels

Jigs 'n' Reels, 'Homeleigh', Claphill Lane, Rushwick, Worcester WR2 5TP

Call or Text brief enquiry to 0788 788 7917

Hoedown Bands and Callers

For American style Hoedown bands please use the ‘search’ database for American Hoedown Bands on the right hand of this page. But we also represent several other bands not yet currently listed - don't ever be afraid to ask via our ENQUIRY BOX or telephone 0788 788 7917 and just leave a message - we WILL call you back !
The term 'hoedown band' can conjure up various different images to different people. So, on this page, we'll try to explain what we mean.

For most events, hoedowns differ from ceilidhs/barn dances mainly by virtue of the style of music (and, of course, just about everybody expects to dress up in American 'cowboy/girl' style clothes - more later!). Essentially, it is the music that is the most noticeable difference since it leans more towards country and bluegrass style with North American roots.

Settlers who began migrating to North America in the early 1600s are considered to be the roots of bluegrass and country and Appalachian and 'old time' music - including dance music and ballads from Ireland, Scotland Wales and England, as well as African American gospel music and blues. (In fact, some sources suggest that slaves from Africa brought the design idea for the banjo, an instrument now integral to the bluegrass sound.) As the early settlers began to spread out into the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky and the Virginias, they composed new songs about day-to-day life experiences in the new land. Since most of these people lived in rural areas, the songs reflected life on the farm or in the hills and this type of music was called "mountain music" or "country music."And settlers tended to not go beyond the long Appalachian mountain ridges range and stayed on this eastern edge of a vast area in the USA.

The instruments tend to be mainly 'strings' like fiddle, banjo or guitars rather than 'squeezeboxes' and the music is often faster (or appears to be faster) than much of traditional British dance music in spite of its original roots having spread from the British Isles many moons ago. Over the years, of course, styles of the music and dances developed into a music, song and dance tradition entirely of its own. (And it is not to be confused with Cajun or Creole music from the deeper south of America which owes its background to French-speaking settlers and where, musically, the 'squeezebox' is king! Originally, Cajun was an entirely different type of musical tradition - though, latterly, there are elements of overlap).

Most of the dances of this hoedown tradition are either 'square' dances (for 4 couples) or 'contra' dances (lines of dancers each facing their partners).........and are not to be confused with 'line-dancing'! Our bands do NOT PERFORM FOR LINE DANCING (though some bands can work with specialist ‘line dance’ callers if specifically required).
In the purer forms, contras and squares have become dances involving rather complicated moves and patterns. In the same way that, say, Scottish Country Dance needs to be practised and learnt, then this also applies to contras and squares - and these dances are not recommended for the inexperienced dancers.

HOWEVER, that doesn't mean that you cannot have a night of fun. For most social events where dancers are inexperienced, the caller can keep the moves simple whilst the band still play the 'yee-ha' hoedown music. And for most 'wild west' and 'cowboy' nights that is exactly what happens! Simple dances with that ol' hillbilly music can be a really cracking night! And.........yes........you can shout 'yee-ha' till your throat is dry.............and even have a burger and baked beans supper, if you must!

It's interesting to note that it was this hoedown tradition that really gave rise to using callers - each move has a different 'name' or 'call'. Whilst some of the dances follow the same pattern, say, eight times through to complete the dance, other dances were 'patter-called' or 'free-called'. So, even the dancers who knew all the moves or patterns would not necessarily know what was going to happen next...........they had to rely on the caller who, of course, could alter the 'called' moves at his whim to suit the dance and music...and himself ! He would call, let's say ,'box the gnat' - and dancers would be expected to react immediately to the call and perform that particular move. Clearly, that level of dancing suited only the experienced dancers but it certainly made the dancing less 'staid' or predictable and far more of a challenge to the dancers. Literally..........thinking on your feet !!

Of course, for a lot of people, a hoedown is a good excuse for dressing up in the check shirts, jeans, neckerchiefs in an effort to re-create the 'Oaklahoma' feel or similar to the film 'Seven Brides For Seven Brothers' where the barn dance or hoedown scene was one of the highlights. Often, the cowboy outfits are used - even down to sporting a gun holster! Probably the most curious element about all this is the 'cowboy' thing. In Britain, lots of people associate this music with 'cowboys/girls' and 'wild west' theme nights - when, in fact, the music and dance tradition is from the east of the Appalachians and the cowboys roamed far to the west of this mountain range!!