You’ve searched for Ceilidh Band Reading and we’ve appeared! Just click on some of our local ceilidh bands below or head over to our Homepage and pop ‘Central England’ or ‘London’ into the drop boxes.
Based in Berkshire,this barn dance band started about 1981. Though playing mainly English traditional...More Info
A top-notch 4 piece Scottish Ceilidh band! Who actually played at the Film Premiere...More Info
FOR BAND VIDEO CLIP see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZzwFql31P0 This Scottish Ceilidh trio have played in every...More Info
Based around Milton Keynes area, this lively band are in great demand for weddings,...More Info
Hands Up! Who remembers the film ‘Four Weddings and A Funeral’? Hugh Grant is,...More Info
Our agency, ‘Jigs ‘N’ Reels’ specialises in ceilidh bands (as well as barn dance and hoedown bands) and NOTHING ELSE! We’ve been doing just that for around thirty years so we must be doing something right!
We’ve tried to cover the main points below but please do raise any questions either via
1 – our enquiry form at https://jigsnreels.com/contact/ or
We prefer to actually talk to people on the phone. There’s no ‘hard sell’ – we just feel that in five minutes’ chat we can cover all the main points.
You’ve searched for a ceilidh band in Reading area but may not be fully sure how to go about it. By your use of the word ceilidh in your search we are assuming that you have already decided that a ceilidh is for you. Our ceilidh bands are either based in Reading itself or close by and these ceilidh bands willingly ply their trade in Reading and throughout Berkshire, Bucks, Oxon and to the fringes of Hampshire. On a map, stick a pin in Oxford, Watford, Guildford and Andover – join them up to get a good idea of the size of the area that we are talking about. This means that your ceilidh band will be based relatively close to your chosen venue rather than travelling enormous distances on congested roads (which also bumps up travelling expenses). Our ceilidh bands are reliable and always turn up (never had any horror stories in that respect) and that local knowledge of the area probably has something to do with it by their avoiding motorway routes which can sometimes be blocked for ages.
It’s probably your first question – how much does a ceilidh band in Reading area charge? For a more accurate idea on costs, try the search box at the top of this page. As guidance, we would suggest that most smaller ceilidh bands of 3 performers including the caller run to between £500-£650. Larger ceilidh bands charge around £650-£1000. The prices do vary from band to band for several reasons (numbers in the band, travel expenses, the standard of their equipment, the band’s reputation and so on). Reputation can be an important factor.
Every ceilidh band fee scale includes all travel expenses to/from your venue, their own PA/amplification system. Upon arrival, the ceilidh band set up their gear during the hour before performing. Once set up and sound checked, the ceilidh band performs two sets of ceilidh or barn dance during an approximate 3 hour or so period. Each dance set lasts about an hour or so (and there’s usually an extended break at some point between sets for food/buffet arrangements or similar). This break makes sure that the musicians’ little fingers don’t drop off! Of course, every event can differ and you may have a slightly different timetable in mind which we would discuss with you. That’s no problem, just point out your plans and ideas and the ceilidh band can probably adjust to suit. There’s more about timings and other related points at https://jigsnreels.com/have-a-great-night/
We expect most people know about the introduction of congestion and emission charges (or similar) in some of our cities. At time of writing this page, these charges do not apply in Berkshire or the counties mentioned above as far as we are aware. But there is talk! Such charges are certainly under serious consideration and who is to say when this might be the case. Should they be introduced, these charges will be a variable depending on the ‘where and when’/types of vehicles involved and are not included in quotations. Also, some city centre venues particularly do not have their own parking area for performers and guests, so your ceilidh band may have to use local pay-parking areas for the evening. To avoid any doubt, all band prices quoted will NOT include these types of variable costs. However, we are happy to check these costs (if they apply) once specific date, times and venue have been forwarded. Nobody wants any confusion over the cost of booking your ceilidh band, causing embarrassment on the night.
Another thing to consider regarding hospitality for your ceilidh band. Band members march on their stomachs and will have missed out on a traditional meal time whilst travelling, setting up their gear and so on and would expect to be invited to partake free of charge in food and drink hospitality during the event.
Let’s start with the Caller, a vital piece of equipment within any ceilidh band. Every ceilidh band in Reading and nearby areas will always arrive with a Caller and the caller’s fee is always included within any quotations. Sometimes, this person will be one of the ceilidh bands’ musicians but usually he/she will be a separate individual who devotes their attention to the actual dancing aspects of the night, explaining the moves by way of a ‘run-through’ of each dance to begin with and ‘calling’ reminders of these moves while each dance is in progress. It’s not anything too formal, it’s not a classroom! The caller’s aim is to keep their ‘teaching’ light-hearted and they won’t be upset if some of the dancers make mistakes or get the dance ‘wrong’. In fact, as a Caller myself, I KNOW some people will cock it up! Our idea of ceilidhs is for the people involved to have FUN by participating, getting the hang of the moves within the dance and mixing with other dancers. Much of the caller’s role is to make for a relaxed atmosphere by keeping the dances to a level whereby just about anybody can join in (and chucking in the odd bit of humour). Our FAQs tab at the top of this page leads to several questions asked about the Caller.
Then there are the musicians.
Sometimes, budget can be restricted for a variety of reasons. Maybe an estate agent might describe your venue as ‘cosy’, meaning it’s a bit on the tight side. We can offer some of the smaller ‘compact’ ceilidh bands to suit a more limited budget for, say, a fundraiser or a ceilidh party for limited numbers like a trio of musicians including a caller or two musicians with their own caller. These smaller line-ups take up little performance area. Also, some of the larger ceilidh bands are willing to downsize (especially during the less popular months) to suit those sorts of occasions.
But most ceilidh bands have at least three or four musicians and a caller. This makes for more musical variety by way of instruments. Most of the ceilidh bands have a ‘lead’ player (perhaps accordion, melodeon or fiddle) accompanied by other instruments …. guitar, banjo, woodwind, keyboards/piano or drums. One advantage in booking these larger bands is their greater visible presence, a focal point for your night’s entertainment. This can be is important if, say, performing on a stage at venues. However, if the venue does not have a stage, it’s not a problem for band performances.
And the actual dancing? Experienced ceilidh-goers will know all about the types of dances. But if your guests are less experienced dancers, don’t worry too much about that because the dances are kept straightforward and simple, particularly during the early part of the night. That’s when the Caller is watching very carefully, weighing up dancers’ responses, capabilities and enthusiasm. Ceilidh dancing usually involves you and a dance partner dancing with other couples in dance sets (a set is ceilidh-speak to describe a group of dancers). The sets can take circle shapes with no limits on numbers, square sets for four couples and various sizes of longways sets (in lines facing your partner). In most dances, you and your partner will interact with other dance couples as well. There are also what are known as ‘progressive’ dances where you can ‘lose’ your partner and be switched to a new dance partner – that won’t be an accident but, rather, as an intended feature of the dance designed to purposely mix people up. Dancing with others can be very touchy/feely – the phrase ‘ice-breaker’ has been used by many people to describe the inter-mingling effect amongst ‘strangers’. Ceilidhs or barn dances are not to be confused with line dancing where you dance solo usually to Country & Western music – totally different ball game.
Ceilidh bands, of course, sound very similar to barn dance bands and American style hoedown bands and Joe Public usually roll their eyes and think ‘Oh no, not that diddly-diddly stuff again’! We can’t deny the fact that the different genres overlap and most people would not notice much difference. Bit like me when I’m listening to Jazz!! But to the more attuned ear, there are differences which you can read about in more detail on our FAQs page listed above.
But here’s a very quick rundown of what our ceilidh bands do and how they can differ.
ENGLISH CEILIDH? “Hang on, Ceilidhs are Scottish, ain’t they”? Most people haven’t heard this term before (except folk dance music devotees). Admittedly, Ceilidh is a Gaelic or Celtic word. Try to imagine going back in time to a Thomas Hardy harvest-time barn dance knees-up but with the music much more energetic and bursting with enthusiasm! The music style of these bands can be from the British Isles, America, World Music and sometimes includes influences from Reggae or Ska (or even Jazz!) – it can be any of the instruments mentioned earlier and might also include the sound of brass but all very suitable ‘danceable-to’ music for the popular ceilidh dances. These ceilidh bands might explain the whole thing far better if you listen to their music and many of them are very popular at the major folk festivals in the UK (and abroad).
What about SCOTTISH CEILIDH BANDS?
Scottish style ceilidh bands can vary a bit at mainly two slightly different levels. We can provide the specialist Scottish Ceilidh bands. They will only perform the music and dances from within the Scottish tradition for Scottish ceilidhs and Scottish Country Dance – we call them the ‘Strictly Scottish’ ceilidh bands. This level of ceilidh band will perform (either with their own caller or the host’s own MC) to exacting dance music standards. As examples, dances may include ‘Eightsome Reel’, ‘Hamilton House’, ‘Posties Jig’. There are a great number of peculiarly Scottish ceilidh dances.
However, if you’ve never heard of any of those dances above, don’t worry. Don’t feel that you are excluded from holding a Scottish style ceilidh. Not everybody really needs a band that performs to those standards. Our ceilidh bands for Scottish nights will play the music and explain the more popular Scottish dances/music like ‘Gay Gordons’, ‘Dashing White Sergeant’, ‘Strip The Willow’. When mixed with other ceilidh dances, you and your guests will have danced at a ceilidh with a real Scottish flavour without the need for the dancing to be too precise. Perfect for a Burns Night Supper or a Wedding Reception which needs that Scottish flavour for your Kiwi guest sporting his hired kilt!
IRISH CEILIDH BANDS (or sometimes spelt ceili bands in the Irish tradition – the exact same pronunciation) also perform in the area. Their music is generally from the Irish ceili traditional style for performing several of the popular Irish dances like ‘Siege of Ennis’ or ‘Walls of Limerick’. Sometimes the Irish bands also include a vocalist for song entertainment as well. But let’s be clear. These bands do NOT perform for Irish set-dances or ‘River Dance’ style Irish step dancing, both of which are a different matter altogether. Again, visit our FAQs page above for more detailed explanation.
FOLK ROCK CEILIDH BANDS have also emerged using electric guitars (as opposed to amplified acoustic guitars), bass instruments, keyboards and, of course, drums. Though their music might still be mainly traditional tunes the arrangements lean towards a heavier, harder, funkier sound. Lead electric guitar might be the lead instrument (though we haven’t heard that Clapton or Brian May have joined a ceilidh band…yet!) These bands often include a vocalist for some ‘covers’ song entertainment as part of your ceilidh party as well as using backing track music to enhance the overall sound experience.
The different styles of ceilidh bands are discussed in greater detail in our FAQs.
Every ceilidh band carries and provides its own PA/amplification systems. You need to make sure that your venue can provide electric standard domestic type square pin 13 amp sockets (which is not usually a problem). Other than that, the band have their own extension cables, speakers and mixer deck and can easily control the volume to suit your event by simply adjusting the slider on the controls.
We also insist that all our ceilidh bands also have the standard insurances and test certification for their electric equipment. It’s very common for venues to insist on bands providing Public Liability Insurance cover (minimum £250,000) and PAT certification for electric gear.
Can we recommend somewhere in your area? What type of venue works best for your event? Obviously, there are stacks of venues in the area. We cannot claim to know them all, naturally, and would hate to be accused of any particular bias either in favour or against (in public at least!).
If you want a venue for a WEDDING RECEPTION, you can check out some of the websites dedicated to such venues. Of course, for wedding receptions, it is important to consider so many more details for the day besides just booking your ceilidh band. But in our FAQs pages, we do go into more detail about some choices facing you regarding room sizes, space required and which flooring works best (sometimes, the devil is in the detail – check out those pages).
And will a ceilidh be a good idea for your wedding reception? We’ve covered all that in our FAQs as well!
Let’s consider the more LOCAL FUNCTIONS like fundraiser events, local social nights, harvest suppers, clubs, parent/teachers or private party (like a birthday). We would suggest taking a look at some local school halls or village halls (and most local authorities can give you contact details for such places). Another source might be local sports club-houses/golf clubs, that sort of thing. Some of the village halls that received lottery funding have excellent rooms for dancing and provision for your own catering facilities at very reasonable rates.
And BARNS? We could talk for ages about barns because they can vary quite a lot. There are quite a few dedicated function barns (like ‘converted-for-function-use’ tythe barns) with all the usual facilities that you would expect in a hotel or modern functions/conference centres. But actual working barns might be a bit trickier and may need a deal of preparation for ceilidhs. You would think that an old barn was the perfect place for a ceilidh, wouldn’t you? But it needs to be clean, have electricity supply from somewhere and some level flooring as well as shelter from the elements. A cold ceilidh band is probably not a happy ceilidh band! The old rustic open-sided barn sounds great but just hope that the weather holds good for you.
If you are setting up or hiring a MARQUEE, we advise that you have this set up professionally. The structure needs to be safe and wind and weather proof if the weather turns a bit nasty. Electric power supply will be required, probably via a generator which is sited far enough away from the marquee where it won’t make too much noise to distract guests’ attention. You will need to have the ground area as level and flat as possible, so choose carefully. A common type of floor covering in marquees is coir matting. That works pretty well as long as the joints aren’t trip hazards. The best solution is a sprung timber floor but they are pretty expensive to hire and many people may find their installation to be an unnecessary expense.
Then there’s the GREAT OUTDOORS? Dancing outside in the balmy late evening sunshine sounds like a great idea but can you count on the weather? It’s always best to have some contingency plan if God is in bad weather mood. The ceilidh band and their equipment will still need cover (just in case!) and suitable, safe electric power supply. Picture this – the ceilidh band arrive and set up, then the heavens open and the night is killed off by the weather. Without a contingency plan, your night could turn into a bit of a nightmare. But the ceilidh band will still need to be paid (unless they brought the bad weather with them!) Oh, and dancing on grass can be very tiring. You’ll know about it the next morning.
HOTELS? Oh yes, hotels!
There are so many excellent hotel venues which are ideal for those really special events like wedding celebrations. They often offer extensive grounds, good parking facilities, overnight accommodation obviously and many have very good dedicated function rooms. But booking a hotel for a private ceilidh party will be more expensive of course (which may be an important consideration).
Weddings apart, if you intend to book a hotel just for a ceilidh party, do go and visit the venue. It is important to let them know that you want to hire their room for ceilidh dancing rather than, say, a disco. It is still surprising to find that some hotels don’t even know what a ceilidh is! If their floor is covered with expensive, thick carpet then give it a miss (carpets like that are rather heavy going, dancing-wise). Also, if they offer to cover the dance area with their slightly raised interlocking parquet squares, then avoid these. These squares are really designed for disco dancing and cover hardly any area at all – definitely not suitable at all for ceilidh dancing. It’s likely that the management are more interested in protecting their carpet than ensuring that your party goes with a swing! And then, of course, they may have a sound limiter installed for the benefit of guests elsewhere in the hotel.
Yep, you’ve guessed it – the sound limiter and similar questions are also on our FAQs page.
Don’t forget, if you need any further advice, we are looking forward to hearing from you.