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Jazz band hire: A brief history of swing music:

If you’re considering jazz band hire for a party or wedding, it’s important to familiarise yourself with different styles of jazz. Silk Street Swing are inspired by the lindihopping, trumpet-blaring swing era, and can bring it to your wedding, party, or corporate event.

Here’s a crash course to get you up to speed before you start requesting songs and commit to jazz band hire.

From the 1920s to the mid-40s

The swing era officially began in 1935, but its roots can be traced back to New Orleans jazz of the 1920s. Some of the most popular band leaders during this time included Fletcher Henderson, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Don Redman. The increasing popularity of radio allowed some swing and jazz musicians to achieve national fame.

The big band tradition

The ‘big band’ tradition is appropriately named. Swing bands would generally have more musicians than other jazz bands, sometimes up into the teens.

They also “organised their players into sections of brass, reeds, and rhythm, and hired skilled orchestrators to write music for them”. This allowed different sections of the band to play together and in response to each other. Composition would often be complex, featuring a big, memorable melody.

jazz band hire

Hot swing and sweet swing

The Benny Goodman orchestra developed a new genre called ‘hot swing’, which was perfect for ‘jitterbugging’ and often contained more explicit lyrics. This style was particularly popular with young people at the time, and – predictably – was disapproved of by some. ‘Sweet swing’ was the less risqué, PG version, popularised by Guy Lombardo and Shep Fields.

Musicians and band leaders who managed a middle ground between the two were often the most commercially successful, such as Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey.

The rise of vocal jazz

By the 1940s, singers were the star attraction. Ella Fitzgerald was one of the biggest stars in jazz, helping the Chick Webb Orchestra grow in popularity. Frank Sinatra originally sang with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and fast became a national obsession. Singers soon began achieving top billing, rather than band leaders and composers.

jazz band hire

World War II

Swing music faced a few problems in the 1940s. There was a royalties conflict between the American Society of Composers and Producers and TV/radio broadcasters, which didn’t end well for the musicians and bands. Wartime restrictions made it difficult for bands to tour and record, and the government slapped a 30% tax on nightclubs in 1944. By the end of the war, swing had broken up into newer genres to adapt to the restrictions.

Its lasting influence

Modern music would be unrecognisable without the influence of jazz and swing. 1950s and 60s rock music, made popular by Elvis Presley, used swing styles. There have been several swing revivals since, in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. It’s also been adapted by house, R&B and hip hop musicians.

Jazz band hire

Silk Street Swing have helped bring countless weddings, corporate events and parties to life with their sophisticated jazz sound and swing band music. If you’re considering jazz band hire, we’d love to do the same for you.

For booking information, get in touch.

7 swing band crowd pleasers for your wedding reception:

If you’re determined to make your wedding memorable and unique, you’ve probably listed all the fun wedding reception ideas you can possibly think of. Inviting a swing band along for some old-school good times will keep your guests thoroughly entertained.

Here are 7 crowd-pleasing, toe-tapping classics to complete your wedding reception.

1. Cheek to Cheek

Written by one of America’s greatest songwriters, Irving Berlin, in 1935, Cheek to Cheek was composed for the film Top Hat. Starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the film features one of the most famous dance sequences in Hollywood history. Since then it’s been covered by dozens of other big names, including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and most recently, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

2. I Get A Kick Out of You

Made famous by Frank Sinatra, I Get a Kick Out of You was composed by Cole Porter for the 1934 musical Anything Goes. The original version included a reference to the famous Lindbergh aviation family, but Porter edited that verse out when the Lindbergh’s son was kidnapped and murdered. Probably for the best…

3. My Funny Valentine

Originally a showtune from 1937’s Babes in Arms, originally performed by child star Mitzi Green. Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, and Bing Crosby covered it, along with more modern artists like Boy George and Chaka Khan. This classic is a particularly fun wedding reception idea because it’s so well known.

4. Makin’ Whoopee

Written by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson for the 1928 musical Whoopee!, you might know this song because of Michelle Pfeiffer’s memorable rendition in The Fabulous Baker Boys. Historically, the lyrics were apparently a warning to men that marriage is a ‘trap’, so it could be a pretty ironic addition to your reception.

5. Someone To Watch Over Me

Written by the Gershwin brothers, one liked it as an uptempo jazz piece, the other preferred it as a ballad. On your big day, the choice is all yours – both are fun wedding reception ideas. Ella Fitzgerald and Amy Winehouse released beautiful and very different versions of this song, 60 years apart.

fun wedding reception ideas

6. Mack The Knife

Originally written in German by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, Mack the Knife was translated for American audiences in 1933’s production of The Threepenny Opera. The character of Mack the Knife is based on a highwayman and criminal with a very dark past.

7. The Lady Is A Tramp

Another song from Babes in Arms, The Lady is a Tramp was covered by Frank Sinatra and used in his 1957 film, Pal Joey. The song makes fun of social conventions associated with the upper classes, like late dinners, trips to California, and partying with men with titles. It’s every down to earth woman’s anthem.

Fun wedding reception ideas – hire a jazz swing band

Silk Street Swing play swing classics from the 20s, 30s, and 40s. We play up tempo hits which are instantly recognisable, slow it right down for the slow dances, and take special requests too.

For a quote and more info, tell us all about your wedding reception.

Hire a live band and choose the cocktails: How to create an authentic Swing era party:

If you’re hosting a 1940s-themed Swing party, it’s important to get all the authentic details right – hire a live band, specify the dress code, and choose the buffet food.

The late 30s and early 40s are associated with war and hardship, but when people had an excuse for a party, they really let their hair down. Alcohol wasn’t rationed, and the end of the Second World War gave people a very big reason to celebrate.

Make sure you get the theme right and host the ultimate Swing Era party.

Define your dress code

Victory rolls, tea dresses, braces, and spats – the fashion of the 1940s is instantly recognisable. Your guests might need a hand when it comes to picking their costumes out, so add a few dress code suggestions to their invitation, as well as the names of 40s icons they can Google.

hire a live band

Ration the menu

You don’t have to go quite as far as limiting butter and sugar, but some famous wartime recipes will get everyone into the 1940s spirit. Homity Pie, potato floddies, and rock cakes might not mean much to us now, but they were a staple during rationing and they’re surprisingly delicious.

Get creative with the decorations

Whether you’re hiring a space or hosting at home, the decorations you choose really help to sell the theme. Look through your local second hand thrift shops for authentic wireless radios, glassware, and other vintage accessories. If you’re focusing on more of a wartime theme, create some Blitz spirit with Union Jack bunting and Winston Churchill masks.

Teach some dance steps

Some people fear the dance floor, and they’ll avoid it even more if they don’t know their way around a Lindy Hop. Before the party gets into full swing, choose someone in the know to teach some basic steps to some swing classics. Your guests will feel like they’ve been taken back in time, and the dance floor will stay full all night.

Hire a live band to play the Swing classics

Silk Street Swing play all the 30s and 40s classics. Your guests will instantly recognise songs like Ain’t That a Kick in the Head, My Funny Valentine , and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. We play up tempo hits, slow it right down so you can dance Cheek to Cheek, and take special requests.

Hire a live band for your 1940s party. Our reviews speak for themselves – our party guests love their sound and think they look the part too!

To book, send us a quick message using the form below.

How to create an authentic wartime menu for your 1940s swing party:

You’re looking for the right big band hire and you’ve ordered your authentic 1940s period costume. All that’s left is the buffet.

Rationing meant people could only buy a very limited amount of food each week during World War II. Even the Royal family used their ration cards. Meat, milk, eggs, materials, and many other household staples were strictly rationed, and the government even encouraged people to grow their own vegetables on public land.

If you want to recreate an authentic 1940s party, here’s what people would have been eating.

Rock cakes

A less coarse, less refined scone. Rock buns use sultanas, mixed spice, flour and baking powder. They’re still popular because the recipe’s so simple, and the modern method includes many of the same 1940s ingredients. If you have some extra ration cards, sprinkle sugar on top or eat with jam.

big band hire

Lord Woolton pie

Named after the former head of the Ministry of Food, the very first recipe was printed in the Times in April 1941, described as “economic” and “wholesome fare”. Whilst meat was scarce and vegetables weren’t subject to rationing, people would fill their Lord Woolton pie with swede, carrot, cauliflower and potatoes. If you want your party and big band hire to be super-authentic, this historical recipe is an essential addition to the menu.

Potato floddies

Every cuisine has some kind of fried potato, and this is ours. Roughly grate some potato, season it, sprinkle in some flour so it all binds together, and then spoon dollops into a hot frying pan until golden brown. For a 21st century spin, add some parmesan into the mix or use them as blinis.

Wartime carrot cake

From 1940, sugar was restricted to 8oz a week. Instead, people would use carrot to sweeten cakes, scones and biscuits. With the help of some flour, margarine, and sultanas, you have an authentic wartime carrot cake. Carrot cake is now an afternoon tea essential, and we have rationing to thank.

Coconut cream

Combine desiccated coconut, milk, sugar, and cornflour, and you’ve got a simple but satisfying wartime dessert. If you’re a fan of fancy presentation, a few drops of pink food colouring make this dessert a bit more appealing, even though it’s not entirely rationing-appropriate. Pour it into individual moulds and set in the fridge before serving.

big band hire

Homity pie

A Land Girls’ favourite, Homity Pie is a cheesy pie containing potatoes, leeks, and whatever else was around. More modern equivalents include cream, spinach, and parsley. It’s still just as satisfying as it was in the 1940s, and just as good for using up leftovers.

Good news! Alcohol wasn’t rationed, just hard to come by

Alcohol production and exportation is always affected by wartime. Italian spirits manufacturers were struggling to source their ingredients during World War II, and Hitler even seized French wine for his own army during the occupation. Here in the UK, alcohol wasn’t rationed but the army was given a very limited supply of rum. For those back home, alcohol could be scarce and much more expensive than usual. For the sake of your guests, this little historical detail might have to be forgotten…

Silk Street Swing are an authentic 1940s-style big band for hire for parties. They can play a huge list of swing and jazz classics, which are perfect for dancing and setting the mood of your wartime themed party. They look the part, so just send us a quick message using the form below and see how we can help your guests step back in time.

Make your summer sizzle with swing band Manchester:

As the heatwave continues, a feelgood factor sweeps the nation. The time is ripe for a celebration party! What are you celebrating? Who cares? But, whatever event, party or get-together you are planning, you’ll be needing live entertainment to make it sizzle. That’s why you need swing band Manchester! Silk Street Swing will make your summer event sizzle, even if/when (okay, when) the storm clouds return to the Rainy City.

No Rainy City Blues with Swing Band Manchester

Myth or reality much is made of Manchester’s unofficial title of the Rainy City. However, swing band Manchester will blow the clouds away effortlessly. Manchester is a vibrant city and it’s not short of fantastic venues. There are a wealth of places – large and small – that are the perfect stage for swing band Manchester, Silk Street Swing.

A live swing band is an inspired choice for a wide range of events. Wedding receptions or anniversaries, and champagne receptions or civil ceremonies are perfect for a live swing performance.

If you are throwing a party, it really doesn’t matter what type. Swing band Manchester will rock the joint and get everybody’s dancing shoes on. From 1920s prohibition-inspired gangster parties to Great Gatsby events or a themed birthday party, Silk Street Swing provide a sizzling soundtrack. Furthermore, they are a fitting accompaniment to awards ceremonies, product launches and conference entertainment.

So, as you can see, there really is no excuse. Why not start planning your event today?

Twistin’ my melon, man! Songs to get you swinging

One of the big questions you will ask when you hire any swing band Manchester is: What songs can you play.

Well, ask that question to Silk Street Swing and you’ll be standing there for a long time waiting for us to finish reeling off the list! In fact, it might be better for you to check out our list of songs here. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it gives you a flavour of what we do.

What’s more, don’t forget that we always do our very best to accommodate special requests and first dances. With such an extensive list, from swing classics to contemporary tunes given a swing twist, swing band Manchester will have you twistin’ your melon in no time at all.

Don’t take our word for it…

Of course, any swing band Manchester will big itself up and claim to be the bee’s knees. However, the proof is in the pudding. We don’t want you just to take our word for it. In our view, we think our reviews speak for themselves. We should let them do the talking…

“The standard of the band was fabulous” – Vicky

“Wow what a wonderful day we had and the music was absolutely amazing. Everyone had a great time and said how brilliant the music was so thank you so much…” – Sophie

If you have any questions, big or small, about what Silk Street Swing can bring to your event, just get in touch today.

Swing band lineups for every occasion:

Swing band lineups for every occasion. It’s a bold statement but at Silk Street we are confident that this claim stands up to scrutiny. We have 2 piece to 5 piece options available, plus a range of soloist musicians too. Therefore, we’re pretty sure we’ve got all bases covered. Here’s why…

Swing band lineups: 2 piece or 3 piece

Offering a subtle soundtrack of jazz, soul or swing, the Silk Street Jazz Two are the perfect swing band line up choice for a low-key or intimate event. Furthermore, you mix and match too. You choose the combination of musicians you require.  For example, you can opt for sax and guitar, sax and piano, or sax and double bass.

The Jazz Two are ideal for a reception, product launch or party.

Meanwhile, the Jazz Three are perfect for ambient and sophisticated background music. Just imagine smooth sax sounds blending with double bass. Add guitar or piano into the mix and it’s not hard to see why the trio is a particularly popular option.

Swing band lineups: 4 piece or 5 piece

Playing out with well-known blues and jazz standards, the 4-piece ensemble are one of the most popular acts in the Silk Street portfolio. As swing band lineups go, this chic quartet provide perfect chill-out sounds.

Of course, if you want to evoke the sound of the big band era, the 5-piece group is what you need. What’s more, if versatility is a key consideration for you in choosing swing band lineups, Classics from the American songbooks, jazz standards and ballads are what you can expect.

Think ‘Mack The Knife’ and ‘Fly Me To The Moon’. Think packed dancefloor and happy guests!

Swing band lineups: Soloists

No two weddings, corporate events or parties are ever the same. That’s why, we offer even more opportunity to tailor your booking so that is exactly what you need and desire. Therefore, we also have a range of soloist musicians available too.

Firstly, why not hire a vocalist to front the band? Our male vocalist, ‘The Blue Doctor’ is one of the country’s finest. Modern pop to blues and jazz, the Doctor has it all. The result? A packed dance floor.

Our solo guitarist is the perfect addition to all swing band lineups. What do you get? Classics, cool jazz, latin, and contemporary chart hits – all performed by a highly trained and consummate professional.

Our cocktail pianist will add another dimension to proceedings. The solo pianist has a versatile and extensive repertoire. The pianist option complements any occasion with aplomb.

Last but not least is our solo saxophonist. Smooth, sophisticated and seductive. Furthermore, with the added advantage of being totally mobile. Able to wander around – inside and out – our solo saxophonist will serenade your guests and create a fantastic atmosphere at any event.

Check out the lineups section of the Silk Street Swing site to find out more and to listen to sound clips of all the lineup options and soloists. Get in touch if you would like more information or would like to discuss other outstanding entertainment for an event you are planning.

Wedding swing band hire: Silk Street Swing:

You are absolutely spoilt for choice these days when it comes to live entertainment for weddings. Do you go for ambience and atmosphere with a string quartet? Do you opt for the classic sound of a harpist? Or, do you just go for a party band to rip up the dancefloor at the reception? All of these are great choices. However, there is another option. Have you considered wedding swing band hire?

Wedding swing band hire: For the entire day

One of the major advantages of picking wedding swing band hire as your entertainment choice for the big day is versatility. Remember that the average wedding day is a long day. From the arrival of your guests to the venue to the moment you see last guests off, jumping in their taxis as the reception winds down. All in all, that’s a lot of time to fill with entertainment.

And few entertainment choices are suitable for the entire day either. A string quartet beautifully accompanies the signing of the register. However, it’s less effective as a way of keeping everybody on the dancefloor. Although, don’t dismiss that out of hand totally. However, it works the other way too. A party act pumping out floor fillers is ideal for the evening bash. But, less appropriate as a backdrop for the bride walking down the aisle.

However, a wedding swing band hire, such as Silk Street Swing, gives you the best of both worlds.

Welcoming guests

You want your guests to be welcomed in style. Silk Street Swing’s black-suits will ensure they look the part as guests arrive. More importantly, the swinging sounds they produce will be a fitting start to the day

Wedding swing band hire: Let’s celebrate!

Booming swing isn’t the best match for the ritual of the wedding ceremony. However, Silk Street Swing are soon earning their stripes again. The all-important confetti-throwing and photos on the steps will be met by some classy celebratory swing.

A swing band: ideal for the wedding breakfast

Swing music can be as understated as it can bold and brash. For the wedding breakfast, Silk Street Swing can be both. As guests dine, subtle swing in the background is a fitting musical match to the meal. For the speeches, bold, brash, booming – and a dose of humour – is the perfect introduction for those all-important speeches.

Getting the party swinging

Then, of course, we come to the evening reception. Silk Street Swing really swing into action here. Coming into their own with renditions of swing classics, the band is sure to set the place alight. Rest assured, the dancefloor will be the place to be. You won’t be able to get your guests away from it!

So, wedding swing band hire is the ultimate choice for entertainment on the day. Silk Street Swing are seasoned pros when it comes to wedding day bookings, get in touch today to find out more.

How to put on the ultimate awards ceremony:

Rewarding people within a sector, industry or your own organisation is very important. As we move into the back end of the year – awards season – now is a great time to look at how to put on the ultimate awards ceremony.

Whether you want your awards ceremony to lavish, extravagant, and formal – or low-key and informal, these tips will help you make sure that your own awards ceremony should be winning awards!

Awards Ceremony Tips: Know your budget

Your budget doesn’t have to be massive and it is not the most important thing – rewarding your staff and boosting morale is the primary objective – but you do need a production and AV budget. This is, after all, what your guests will remember the most about the event.

Awards Ceremony Tips: Stage Design

A stage will make your awards ceremony look all the more professional. It is also a key place to position branding, logos or information about sponsors – either on rostrums or on screens behind the stage.

Awards Ceremony Tips: Lighting and Music

The event space will be filled with the perfect ambience and atmosphere with carefully selected lighting and music. Lighting can transform and lift a room and make even those guests at the back of the room feel completely involved. Lighting options include the likes of haze machines and uplighters.

Subtle background music and music to accompany walk-ons will add to the atmosphere and create excitement in the room. Of course, this can be recorded music – but for extra impact a live band is ideal.

Swing music may not be the obvious choice for every type of awards ceremony, but there is no denying that it will help to create a sense of cool, class and quality for any event. Some musical interludes or upbeat play-ons will create an evening of drama and link your awards together seemlessly.

Awards Ceremony Tips: Video!

You’re really missing a trick if you don’t capture your awards event for posterity. Photos will tell the story of the night well, but video will do it far better – and it will keep you supplied with material for engaging promotional films and social media posts for months to come.

If you want to make your awards event swing, Silk Street Swing offer a wide variety of line-up options, from the full big band experience to soloists. Get in touch today to see how we can take your awards ceremony to the next level.

Swing Bands For Weddings: 5 Unmissable Performances:

There’s romance in the air, and your wedding planning is probably hotting up… When putting the wheels in motion for your ceremony and reception, you want entertainment that will match the mood and keep guests talking right through to the taxi home. That’s why swing bands for weddings are such an unbeatable choice.

Curious to learn more? We’d like to show you how an act like ours can greet, accompany and electrify your guests at various points of your special day, from dawn till dusk…

1. Welcoming everyone at the venue

As your guests rock up at the chapel or ceremonial venue, you want them to arrive in style. Decked in our customary black suits, silver ties and fedoras, Silk Street Swing will look the part as we stand outside those chapel doors, playing a triumphant tune on our instruments.

2. Jiving to the confetti and photographs

The actual marriage ritual is quite a hushed affair, so we can stay out of everyone’s way whilst it’s taking place. Yet our sax player, guitarist, drummer and bass virtuoso can linger on the steps of the building. When everyone spills outside, we’ll strike up in celebration. The energy will be high as confetti petals hit the floor, and groups are arranged for a photo by the willow tree.

3. Letting you dine on good vibes

After this, typically, you’ll be heading to a dining setup – either indoors or on a beautiful stretch of grass – for some food. It’s your extra-lucky day, because swing bands for weddings can be chilled, if you want them to be, with a steady beat to underscore the chatter and fork clinks. Let us take over a bandstand, or a corner by the champagne table, to trill a light soundtrack to your meal!

4. Playing for the speech-givers

Silk Street Swing can provide a ripe dose of comedy or exuberance – often within the same breath. Our genre is brash, heraldic and full of pizazz, which tags nicely onto any best man/father of the bride speeches. We can introduce each person with a song, and give them an aural exit worth cheering for.

5. Setting the dance floor on fire…

Now, onto the fast and furious capper to your wedding: the night-long reception! Just show us to the stage, and we’ll bust out our biggest, well-known hits from the swing canon. This entertainment doesn’t get more accomplished than four or five expert musicians, all of whom can bounce off each other, taking a classic party sound to the next level. The first dance; shout-outs to the bride and groom’s family… There’s so much we can arrange before hitting the spotlight.

By hiring a swing band, you’ll be able to revel in the midst of timeless, toe-tapping music. That’s why it only makes sense to deploy us whenever you can! Get your money’s worth with a Silk Street Swing booking, and let us court the A to Z of your wedding schedule.

4 Occasions That Swing Bands For Hire Suit Perfectly:

A tipped hat, a mic chord looped like a lasso… Whatever the quirks of swing music, you can’t deny that a full, toe-tapping band has a lot more than high notes to offer. Your event, aiming for glory, could do so with a twinkling grin by choosing swing bands for hire in the UK.

And yet, although the genre can jive to many occasions, we reckon there are at least four that always fit the bill. Join us for a swift ride through the natural territory of a swing performer, and how we’ll make your day a treat.

1. A landmark anniversary

10 years, 25, even 50 – the annual fawning of a marriage is a beautiful thing, but even more so when there’s a quarter or half-century under your belt.

Few music styles conjure the romance, thrill and enduring energy of a relationship better than swing. It’s perfect for big anniversaries, the kind we look back on like those vivid family photographs in the attic. Older couples, in particular, can shake off the cobwebs and get back to the dancefloor, unable to resist the wild, lovelorn lyrics!

2. That premier awards show

“And now, we move onto the ceremonial part of the evening…” Some guests might be creaking in their chairs by this point, stuffed with food and wine, and (even though they knew what was coming) less than enthused about clapping for their co-workers every few minutes.

But swing bands for hire can break up your corporate awards evening, adding a livewire jolt when it’s needed. Book a short half-time set, then a longer performance after the final gong’s been handed out. If you’re going for a high-class theme, nothing delivers it more than smart, jacketed, horn-blowing musicians belting out the hits.

3. An awesome birthday

Arranging the birthday entertainment for someone who fancies themselves a bit of a debonair? Perfect: they’ll have eyes as wide as the table spread when you unveil a swing band like us, pumped up and ready to finger-click our way to your boy or girl’s heart.

There’s the option, potentially, of getting your lucky so-and-so onstage with the group, taking the microphone for a rendition of ‘My Way.’ Cue guffaws from the crowd – but this is what it’s all about, isn’t it? Celebrating the day of your entry into this world with a sound that truly makes you feel alive…

4. The retirement party of your dreams

We spend so long grafting for our livelihood that the end of it – and, really, the start of a new period in one’s existence – deserves a special commemoration. For retirees, swing bands for hire are an excellent choice, seeing as they’re bright, happy, and able to reach across age divides like no other. The younger members of the audience will be sucked into the spirit of the day. Actually, they’ll see that maturity is worth reaching if this is the soundtrack to it!

So, now that we’ve aired some ideas, we’d love to hear a few from your lips too. As one of the most professional swing bands for hire in the country, Silk Street Swing can deal with anything you throw at us – weddings, funerals, the odder stimulants for a knees-up… It’s all in your hands, which is why you should get in touch, and swing when you’re winning with a cool events plan.

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