The Pastiche ceilidh band in action

Music for an Irish Wedding

One Saturday in July Pastiche Band were hired to play music for an Irish wedding.  The wedding was held at the rather excellent Clayton Crown Hotel in Cricklewood, North London.

Pastiche Band are often hired to play a mix of ceilidh and party music. On this occasion no ceilidh was required. Many of the guests already know how to ceilidh dance, and didn’t need the help of our expert caller.

The band line-up was female vocal, guitar/vocal, keyboard, bass, drums and, of course, a fiddle player.

The first dance was a jazzy Unforgettable – a song made famous by Nat King Cole, – the newly weds danced together beautifully.

The couple had requested a mix of party songs and traditional Irish songs. The party songs included the likes of Amy Winehouse – Valerie and Rehab; Dean Martin – Sway and Mambo Italiano, Adele – Rolling in the Deep; Pharrell Williams – Happy and Get Lucky.

The Irish songs that were requested were:

The Fields of Athenry – a song by Pete St. John popular with a rugby crowd.

The Star of County Down

The Leaving of Liverpool

The Wild Rover

Whisky in the Jar

Black Velvet Band

The Irish Rover

Galway Girl – A song written by the US songwriter Steve Earle – a big hit in Ireland for Mundy.

Dirty Old Town

Spancil Hill

Foggy Dew

The Auld Triangle

Danny Boy

We also played a set of fiddle tunes – Mairi’s Wedding, I’ll Tell Me Ma, The Maids of Ardagh, The Siege of Ennis.

The Irish contingent sang and danced all night long. The band were impressed that many of the guests knew all of the words to the Irish songs – even the lengthy The Irish Rover with it’s six long verses.

The evening finished with a rousing and emotional Danny Boy and the party was over. A happy client makes a happy band.

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Teaching a ceilidh dance at a London wedding

ceilidh-party mix for a London wedding

A rainy day in October – grey clouds and drizzle washing down on the ‘wobbly bridge’ and into the River Thames. Pastiche Band had again been hired to play a ceilidh-party mix for a London wedding.

Today’s central London venue is the rather fabulous The Swan at The Globe, a bar alongside Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in the South Bank – http://www.swanlondon.co.uk

Playing central London engagements frequently has its problems these days – driving in, parking, access. Access to The Swan is a little problematic, but the staff are unusually friendly and very helpful. They also worked tirelessly throughout the day to ensure that all ran smoothly for the clients.

With the groom being Scottish the couple had requested a mix of three or four ceilidh dances, and a good mix of party music.

ceilidh-party mix for a London wedding

Dancers learning ceilidh steps

Pastiche Band were a five piece band for the occasion comprising female vocalist/ceilidh caller; female fiddler/backing vocalist; guitar/vocals, bass and drums.

The band started the evening with the ceilidh dance Dashing White Sergeant. The couple didn’t want a first dance but had requested that we play Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud – we played this as an ‘unofficial’ first dance. All the guests joined in.

Being a half-Scottish wedding there were many kilts in evidence, whilst one man was wearing a fez!

The Caller teaching Dashing White Sergeant

Throughout the evening we played three sets, each starting with a ceilidh. During the evening we played Gay Gordons, Circassian Circle and Heel and Toe Polka. We also played a wide variety of party songs requested by the couple, songs such as Brown Eyed Girl, American Boy, Nine to Five, Tainted Love, Firework, and a Michael Jackson medley of Blame it on the Boogie, I Want You Back and Billie Jean.

As there was a Scottish contingent we chose to finish with an inevitable The Proclaimers 500 Miles. Everyone sang along. The guests still wanted one last song so we closed with the fabulous Bob Dylan song Make You Feel My Love (popularised recently by Adele). The couples had a slow dance together, and the evening was done. As the guests left, the band packed up and loaded cars in the rain to head off into the night.

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Ceilidh wedding - fiddle and flute

Ceilidh calling, or how I became a ceilidh caller.

Ceilidh calling, or how I became a ceilidh caller

How does one become a Ceilidh caller exactly?

I’m glad you asked…

Originally hailing from Australia, I grew up following my musician parents around as they played and sang their way across most of the East Coast of Australia and New Zealand.

At the age of 11 I think I figured that ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ so I found myself on stage playing the flute or mandolin and singing backing vocals and the occasional lead.

Many of these gigs involved playing for Dinner Dances which included classics such as the Foxtrot, Waltz, Rhumba, Mamba, etc but my favourite gigs by a country mile were the ‘Bush Dances’ – the Australian version of the traditional English, Irish and Scottish dances (Ceilidhs!). These dances were pretty close to the original dances often with an Australian twist.

How to Australianise a Ceilidh/Bush dance:

  1. Take a traditional English, Irish or Scottish dance
  2. Eliminate the emphasis on the correct technique and precise steps
  3. Add a whole lotta hooting and hollering
  4. (Quite a crucial step) Give it a ridiculous name: The Drongo, The Stockyards, The Waves of Bondi, The Queensland Backstep

And there you have it, One Australian Bush dance!

So now when I call a traditional Ceilidh for a wedding or party, it takes me back to my youth and much fun had on the dancefloor (I even met my first boyfriend at a Ceilidh/Bush Dance – now we’re really going back!)

We may not call ‘The Drongo’ for your event but the Gay Gordon, Circassian Circle, Dashing White Sergeant or Strip the Willow (among others) are bound to get the heart racing and feet stomping. What better way to meet new people and have fun with ones you already know??

It always helps to have a partner that doesn’t mind being thrown around a bit and there’s no need to have done it before… Pastiche Band will walk and talk (and laugh!) you through a ceilidh dance before we add the music – then let the fun begin!!

Here’s a short film of Pastiche playing a polka for a ceilidh at a wedding.

See you on the dancefloor at your wedding or party!

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Pastiche Jazz trio playing for a summer garden party in London

Pastiche Live Jazz Band.

Pastiche  Live Jazz Band.

Recently Pastiche live jazz band, were hired to play for a big charity fund raising event. The charity was the excellent Resurgo Spear – http://resurgo-spear.org

The venue, in South West London, was lavishly decorated for a sumptuous dinner. The band comprised an eight-piece line up – female vocal, tenor sax, alto sax, trumpet, guitar, keyboards, bass and drums.

There was a 1920s/Gatsby theme for the evening – ladies in “flapper dresses, lots of feathers, beads and hats,” men in suits waistcoats and hats.

On saxophone we have the legendary Steve Gregory, who has played with Van Morrison, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, oh, and played that saxophone line on George Michael’s Careless Whisper. (We were once playing Careless Whisper at a wedding when one of the guests stopped dancing, came over and remarked, “respect – that sax sounds just like on the original recording!”)

On trumpet and percussion we have the fabulous Raul D’Olivera, who has played with Elton John, George Michael and Mica Paris, amongst others.

As it was a dinner the client, inevitably, wanted a dinner jazz set. Some of the tunes were sang by our vocalist, Danica Chapman – Summertime, Autumn Leaves, Georgia, Have I Told You Lately. Some were instrumental tunes – Satin Doll, Take the A Train, Blue Bossa.

The band played for the champagne reception. There was a silent film, which the band accompanied with the Louis Armstrong song What a Wonderful World. Later the band played a more lively, jazzy set for dancing, including Sway, Route 66, Moondance and even a jazzy version of Amy Winehouse’s Valerie.

The charity were pleased with the support that they received and clients and band all had a swinging time.

Here’s an audio recording from the evening – a medley of tunes and songs.

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Dancing at a ceilidh wedding

Another Saturday night – another ceilidh wedding.

The end of the summer – a fine time for a ceilidh wedding!

At a wedding a couple may like to have a ceilidh dance to break the ice when there may be some guests who may not know each other so well. This past Saturday was just such an occasion.

The venue was the atmospheric barn setting of The Priory, Little Wymondley http://www.thepriory.net

Pastiche ceilidh caller teaches the steps to Strip the Willow

Pastiche ceilidh caller teaches the steps to Strip the Willow

After the first dance (the appropriate Happy Together by the Turtles) Pastiche opened the ceilidh dancing with the Circassian Circle – a country dance traditionally the first dance of the evening. After a brief teaching session from our caller the dancers were whirling around the dance floor. We followed this up with Strip the Willow, another popular country dance, where the couple link arms and spin each other around.

We gave the dancers a break while we played a few traditional folk songs – Step it Out Mary, Star of the County Down, The Wild Rover.

Ceilidh wedding - fiddle and flute

Ceilidh wedding – fiddle and flute

We then went into another ceilidh set, the classic Gay Gordons, (where couples dance in a circle around the room) then the Dashing White Sergeant (with the dancers in groups of six). After another short break, while the dancers recuperated, we play one final ceilidh dance – The Heel and Toe Polka.

Ceilidh wedding - fiddle and flute

Ceilidh wedding – fiddle and flute

On Saturday Pastiche had a seven-piece line up comprising female vocal; guitar/vocal; keyboards; bass; drums; saxophone/flute; fiddle/vocals. This gave us the flexibility to play a couple of party music sets after the ceilidh.

Pastiche played a variety of well-known party songs such as –

Valerie

American Boy

Crazy (Gnarls Barclay)

Nine to Five

Michael Jackson medley Blame it on the Boogie, I Want You Back and Billie Jean,

Ain’t Nobody (originally by Chaka Khan currently in the charts by Felix Jaehn),

Get Lucky

Price Tag

Moves Like Jagger

You Got the Love

At midnight we fished off getting everyone to sing along to The Proclaimers 500 Miles and Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On a Prayer. The lights went up and the evening was over. The happy couple drove off in to the moonlit evening.

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The ceilidh caller teaches the wedding guests the dance steps

Ceilidh dancing at a wedding

Ceilidh dancing at a wedding

A July wedding – Pastiche Band were hired to play for a big crowd at a wedding at the rather fabulous River and Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire. There is an inside function room with picturesque views over the River Thames, and an outside terrace. As the weather was fine the wedding breakfast was a barbeque out on the terrace.

The couple had requested a wide variety of music. For the drinks reception they wanted some background jazz – Pastiche played as a jazz quartet – piano; guitar; bass and drums covering songs from the American Songbook (Cole Porter and the like), through to Pat Metheny.

Ceilidh dancing at a wedding is popular. Instead of a first dance the couple wanted to start the evening dancing session with a ceilidh dance. There was only one Scottish, kilted guest in attendance (many schools in Scotland teach ceilidh, so the Scots are familiar with the dances). Many English, however, are not familiar so our caller carefully guides the dances through their first steps. The caller selected a couple dance (The Gay Gordons) and got the newly married couple to dance in the centre of a large circle.

Ceilidh dancing at a wedding - For their first dance the couple chose to dance a ceilidh

For their first dance at the wedding the couple chose to dance a ceilidh

The guests were clearly very enthusiastic about the ceilidh dancing. We started with two dances – The Gay Gordons and the Circassian Circle. During a short break the band played some trad Irish folk songs and songs by Christie Moore and The Pogues. Then we taught the dancers the steps to The Dashing White Sergeant.

Ceilidh dancing at a wedding - the guests learn the steps to the Dashing White Sergeant.

Ceilidh dancing at a wedding – the guests learn the steps to the Dashing White Sergeant.

The ceilidh caller teaching the steps for The Dashing White Sergeant.

There were fireworks over the river and then into a long set of party music. We played songs by Amy Winehouse, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Pharrell Williams, Jessie Jay, Queen, and many more.

The people danced the night away, and guests, and band all had a good time.

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Pastiche playing for a ceilidh dance at a wedding

4 occasions when a ceilidh dance would be amazing

4 occasions when a ceilidh dance would be amazing

  • Ceilidh dance at a wedding,
  • Ceilidh dance at a school party
  • Ceilidh dance at a fundraiser
  • Ceilidh dance at a corporate event

Ceilidh dance is a great way to break the ice, and get conversation going when people meet for the first time at a get together of any kind. Ceilidh is always fun to do too – especially when some people have not danced at a ceilidh before. Complete beginners can quickly be guided in their first steps. At first people tend to bumble around bumping into each other, at least until the get the hang of the steps. Our caller expertly and quickly guides people through the ceilidh dance steps. We find that sometimes those who have already done a ceilidh before (or maybe are very experienced at ceilidh) get a little grumpy with the novices, but soon all are swirling around the dance floor.

Ceilidh and covers.

Pastiche are a flexible band – we can play one or two sets of ceilidh, and one or two sets of covers of well known, party songs from the ‘50s to today’s hits to really mix things up. Playing a ceilidh is good fun for the band too – it’s obvious that we are enjoying ourselves.

Ceilidh dance at a Wedding

Ceilidhs are often associated with weddings. Pastiche Band have played a ceilidh and cover song mix at many weddings. It’s a great way for people to get to know each other.

Here are some comments that we’ve had from recent weddings.

Adam and I wanted to thank you for such a stunning performance at our wedding at the Corinthia Hotel back in September. Your energy, skill and enthusiasm was absolutely perfect and really got the party going straight from the off. It was great to have the combination of ceilidh and covers and we had so many compliments from our guests. Everyone could tell that you were all really enjoying it and that just seemed to transfer to all of our guests. Thank you again. Justin.

Many thanks for your wonderful performance at our wedding yesterday. Everyone loved your music, the excellent singing and the ceilidh dancing (even though our guests’ dancing leaves much room for improvement!) Thanks, Rowan.

We just wanted to send you a note to say how much we loved having you at our wedding and how much fun we had. Many of our friends and family had never been to a ceilidh before but have said how much they enjoyed it. Thank you! Mike and Rebecca

Ceilidh dance at a Fundraiser

Pastiche caller instructs the dancers at a ceilidh dance

Pastiche caller instructs the dancers at a ceilidh dance

Pastiche band have been hired to play the ceilidh, covers mix at fundraisers too. After the guests have been fed and watered, sometimes listened to some speeches, they are ready to get up, let their hair down, and have a good dance. It’s a fun way to have a good laugh. One of the clients at a fundraiser said that their ceilidh dancing was “at the very least enthusiastic!”

Here are a couple of recent testimonials from fundraisers that we have played.

I just wanted to write and say such a big thank you from us all for providing us with such fantastic entertainment and music on Saturday night! You were fantastic. We have had an endless string of compliments from everyone there and it made the night perfect so a very big thank you!! Sarah – Much Hadham Playgroup Ball

I wanted to thank you very much for making the Feltonfleet Burns night a great success.  We were all absolutely thrilled with the way the event went. We have been inundated with positive feedback from our guests. Here are some of the comments we have received: ‘… Stunning setting, excellent dancing or at the very least enthusiastic… thanks to the very patient lady directing us’ ‘We loved every minute, the singing, and of course, the Scottish dancing was brilliant.’ What a shame, we didn’t have more time, as I know many of the guests would have loved to dance for longer! Thank you once again. Charlotte – Feltonfleet School

Ceilidh dance at a School Party

Because ceilidh dance is good for all ages we have played for school parties. Adults can dance with their children and all have a good time.

We would just like to say a HUGE ‘Thank You’ to each one of you for the brilliant music on Saturday night – Danica, you have an amazing voice.  So many people have been saying how wonderful it was to have a live band and how much fun you made it. It was amazing that you were so flexible to be able to play Scottish dancing music. So many of the young are saying that they were thrilled to learn how to do the reeling and definitely want to repeat the experience. Love Susie xxx

Ceilidh dance at a Corporate party

Some corporate conferences like to put on a party in the evening. The guests may have had a hard day of work and study. Sometimes they are from different parts of the company and may not know each other very well. Ceilidh is the best way to guarantee a good time.

Just a quick note to say a huge thank you to you and your band for last night. We all had the most brilliant time and the dancing was a great success. Many thanks and I hope to work with you again in the future. Best wishes Henny – ANYA HINDMARCH.

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Pastiche Jazz trio playing for a summer garden party in London

Hire a Jazz Band in London

Hire a jazz band in London

I had a call from a client who wanted to hire a jazz band in London. The booking was for a summer garden party in one of those green and pleasant garden squares in the chic Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

After some discussion they opted for a jazz trio comprising saxophone/vocal, guitar/vocal and keyboards. They wanted some music that was melodic, pleasant and atmospheric, a kind of backdrop to the afternoon’s events.

The garden party was charming and old fashioned. There were people of all ages; a magician, face painting and balloons for the children; bric-a-brac; hot dogs, and strawberries and cream in the local church hall. Although it was cloudy the rain held off all afternoon.

We loaded in at around noon and set up in a gazebo (always a good idea with electrical equipment, just in case the rain comes.) We played from 12:30 until 4:30 while people mingled and the jazz floated out over the London rooftops.

Pastiche jazz trio - sax player/singer Lindsay Goodhand

Pastiche jazz trio – Roger – keys, Lindsay Goodhand sax/vocals

Dinner jazz and songs from the Great American Songbook

We decided it would be appropriate to play some ‘dinner jazz’ and songs from the Great American Songbook; Summertime; Autumn Leaves; All of Me – some Latin tunes Blue Bossa; Corcorvado; and popular songs Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby, We Have All the Time in the World; Moondance; My Baby Just Cares for Me; Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, even an Irish folk ballad – Fields of Athenry – a Pete St. John song recently popularised by the Irish national football team.

All in all it was a very pleasant afternoon.

Pastiche Jazz trio playing at a London garden party. Simon Nelson, guitar and vocals; Lindsay Goodhand, sax and vocals

Pastiche Jazz trio playing at a London garden party

Afterwards the client said:

“I have to say thank you SO much for providing the most perfect music for the Summer Fair. The compliments and praise have been flooding in and everyone, of all ages, saying that you were just ‘right’.  You created the perfect ambience, were the right volume, were wonderfully there but not oppressive and dominating and played the most perfect range of music. You looked wonderful and were far more in keeping with the whole event and please can you come again next year!

“It was a wonderful day and we loved having your music keeping us going and keeping us in the right spirits and I hope we can work together many, many times!”

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What is a ceilidh? Pastiche ceilidh band, London - fiddler, caller and the guitarist

What is Ceilidh? Who can ceilidh dance?

What is ceilidh?

Ceilidh is a Gaelic term common to Scottish, Irish and emigrant communities. The word means ‘a visit’. The original ceilidh could be a pre-arranged or spontaneous social gathering of family and friends. Customarily a ceilidh would take place after sunset, particularly during winter months. In the winter the short days meant that there were limited hours for outside work.

In rural traditions communities there would be a cottage called a taighean ceilidh (a visiting house). The occupant would typically be a shanachie (storyteller), a singer and keeper of traditional knowledge. They would keep legendary tales alive, and hand down the oral tradition to successive generations. An evening could include poetry, stories, dancing, proverbs, riddles, jokes and songs. Music would be played on pipes, fiddle or accordion. The evening would generally culminate in a dance.

Major events such as weddings, births, deaths, would be celebrated with song. The rhythm of song was also an accompaniment to all kinds of work. An old Gaelic proverb states, “The end of the world will come, but love and music will live forever.”

With increasing urbanisation the social gathering became more formalised, and moved into community halls.

Throughout the 1920s there was much shared tradition between Scotland and Ireland. The term ceilidh implies dancing. A ceilidh gathering is often called a ‘ceilidh dance.’ Dancing takes place to the accompaniment of jigs (a lively folk dance most often in 6/8 time) and reels (a folk dance typically in 2/4 time). Jigs and reels are often played as medleys of tunes in a ‘set’.

What is a ceilidh dance?

A ceilidh dance comprises a variety of dances, which can include traditional dances, old-time dances – even a waltz and quickstep can be included.

What is ceilidh? The Pastiche Band caller teaches the dance steps for a ceilidh

Pastiche ceilidh band caller teaches the steps

Who can ceilidh dance?

Anyone can ceilidh dance; all age groups. Even those with little dancing experience or skill can join in. Most ceilidh dances have a repeated 16 or 32 bar sequence. This makes a ceilidh dance fairly easy to learn. They can be danced with a minimal amount of tuition. A caller guides the dancers through the steps.

According to David and May Ewart, “Young people discover that in ceilidh there is life after disco, and ‘mature movers’ are attracted by the nice-and-easy appeal of this form of dance, as well as by it’s social aspects.” Scottish Ceilidh Dancing, 1996, Introduction.

Ceilidh dances are a popular for parties and weddings and fun way that people can get together.
Pastiche, a ceilidh band based in South East England, perform some popular ceilidh dances such as:

Dashing White Sergeant – one of the preeminent ceilidh dances.

Gay Gordons – a lively, popular party dance.

Circassian Circle – a 32 bar jig danced in a circle. There are numerous variations to this dance.

Strip the Willow – an all age dance popular in schools and at weddings. It is a 32 bar jig danced in a circle.

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