Established for fifteen years, The Ceilidh Allstars is a collective of Cambridge and London based internationally renowned musicians.
Dedicated to high quality traditional dance music with a party attitude, they place the emphasis on audience enjoyment and participation.
The Ceilidh Allstars specialise in Irish, Scottish and English Ceilidh dances where a ‘caller’ explains simple, group folk dances.
Ceilidhs are an ideal way to break the ice at weddings, conferences or functions where people may be meeting for the first time; no previous experience is necessary and all ages can join in the easy dance steps!
Equally at home in a barn or a ballroom, from a solo Irish fiddle to full Ceilidh or Cajun band, The Ceilidh Allstars will provide punctual, polite and professional musicians to suit all occasions and budgets.
BOOKING A CEILIDH BAND - ALL THE DETAILS….
The information below addresses most questions we are asked, however we are flexible, and each event is obviously unique, so please do contact us if you want to discuss any aspect of booking a Ceilidh or live traditional music. Hazel has had 17 years professional experience playing at weddings, festivals, venues, parties, and corporate functions, and would be more than happy to chat with you about what might work best for you – we all want your event to run smoothly and go off with a bang!
So if your questions aren’t answered here, or if you would just prefer to talk through your plans and ideas with a human being, please don't hesitate to contact her on +44 (0)1223 264133 or +44 (0)7786 345033 or by email
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TECHNICAL DETAILS & REQUIREMENTS
Our experienced caller will explain the easy dances, and walk you through them before the music starts, so absolutely no experience is necessary, and all ages can join in. We normally do 2 dances at a time, followed by a background tune from the band to allow everyone to rest and chat. This tends to average as very roughly 5 or 6 dances in an hour, though varies at each event; the band are happy to play more background music inbetween if required, so we normally let your guests vote with their feet. We tend to stick to simple dances as a rule, but let us know if you are ceilidh veterans, and we’ll come up with some more adventurous steps! See ‘Repertoire of Dances’ below for a list of the more common dances we do.
LIVE BACKGROUND MUSIC:
We are also happy to take bookings to play traditional background music to suit all budgets, from solo fiddler to 4 or 5 piece band. The standard lineup is fiddle, guitar and bodhran, which we believe provides a good variety of textures while remaining very affordable. This lineup can also play acoustically where amplification is not possible, although we find the balance of instruments is usually slightly better with at least some amplification. For a bigger band, we can add accordion or Uilleann pipes.
We do not currently work with any singers.
Unfortunately there are too many variables to be able to give prices on this page; distance from Cambridge, length and time of performance, number of musicians, waiting time and equipment requirements all affect the price. However, we believe that our usual 3 piece band can produce as big a sound as many larger professional bands making us comparatively inexpensive - although please do listen to our music and decide for yourself!
with the date
of the venue, and whether you want a ceilidh
, or just background music
, and we will email you an all inclusive quote for your event – usually within 24 hours. Our normal quote will be for 3 musicians (plus caller if it’s a ceilidh) for a maximum of 4 hours on site before midnight, however we are flexible and will quote for any requirement, so do get in touch with Hazel to discuss your options if you like!
We are happy to consider special requests, however we need to receive an MP3 or CD at least 3 weeks in advance of the booking to learn a tune, and must reserve the right not to play requests which we judge will not be successful or up to a professional standard with the band line up and style. Similarly, if you have a favourite dance not listed below, with enough notice we may be able to oblige.
Ceilidhs are normally quieter than discos, though we will be happy to turn our amplifers either up or down, depending on your preference. Noise limiters can be a problem however, as sometimes the combination of music and dancers clapping can operate the power cut off switch at a level where the music cannot be heard at the back of the venue. We will restrict our volume accordingly in venues that still use these devices however, as long as you are aware of the potential drawbacks.
We regularly work with discos, but from experience, events have only been successful where the disco follows the ceilidh band. Alternating the two, or having the disco before the ceilidh has never worked because discos tend to be much louder with a heavier sound. However, a ceilidh followed by a disco can be an excellent finale to your event if you want to have both – it’s a good build up and caters for all tastes.
BACKGROUND RECORDED MUSIC:
We play live instrumental tunes in breaks between dances, and we normally play our own CD of quiet traditional music through the PA when the band take a break themselves, but you can provide a CD or iPod if you prefer. Please let us know in advance if you are providing your own player for background music (or to play your favourite track for the first dance - see ‘Dances’ below) so we can be sure to bring the right leads to plug it in. Please note that our PA is not designed for disco music though.
We now provide coloured stage lighting for the band to add to the atmosphere of your event. We also recommend that you give some thought to the lighting of the venue – it is surprisingly hard to create a good atmosphere with just strip lighting!
The band wear standard smart/casual black clothing as featured in the home page photo; the caller sometimes wears brighter clothes.
SEEING THE BAND PERFORM:
Most of the bookings we have are private parties and weddings where we are unfortunately not normally at liberty to invite our own guests, however the demo tracks on the website are recorded live, and the quotes page has some clients’ feedback on our performances.
TECHNICAL DETAILS & REQUIREMENTS:
A raised stage is preferable but not essential. The band needs 4m * 3m to set up, one 13A power outlet within 5 meters of the stage, 4 (armless) chairs and a small table.
Must be reasonably level and free of trip hazards, eg edges of rugs etc. Allow about 1 square metre per person dancing.
All our electrical equipment is PAT tested annually and we have ‘on site’ Public Liability Insurance. Venues that require copies can download them from our agents page; www.acallstars.com/agents.
Please ensure that the band & equipment are completely under cover, (regardless of weather forecast!) and that there is a safe electricity supply. The electrical equipment is not safe or insured for use otherwise.
We request food and soft drinks for 4 people including 2 vegetarians. Please advise if this will not be possible.
TIMING & SETUP:
We use a small PA system which is normally essential to amplify the band. This takes about 25 minutes to set up and 5 minutes to ‘sound check’ the instruments before we start, then about 30 minutes to pack up and leave when we have finished.
Standard sets are 2 * 60-90 minutes with one 20-30 minute break in between. If the booking is shorter than 2 hours, we can do one long set. Although we are very happy to play for longer, we often find that 2-21/2 hours (including breaks from dancing filled with background music) is ideal for many guests at weddings or social functions, particularly after food and drink.
We normally require a 10% deposit, with the remainder paid on the night. Cash on the night is preferred. For BACS payment transfers, please contact Hazel
for our bank details. If being paid by cheque, please make out to Maha Music Services.
– We offer the following options;
The First Dance:
o A traditional waltz played by the band and led by the bride and groom – eg ‘my love is like a red red rose’, which can be heard on the website.
o A ceilidh dance where the bride and groom lead the first set.
o A tune provided by the client on ipod or cd, which we can play through our PA before the ceilidh starts if you like. If providing your own music player, please let us know in advance so we can bring the right leads to plug it into our P.A. system.
o See ‘general info’ above for special requests played for you by the band.
The Last Dance:
o Most ceilidhs traditionally finish with the 'Circassian Circle'; a very simple dance that we encourage everyone to join in with.
o Finally, there are a number of very simple traditional arch and circle activities where the bride and groom can ‘say farewell’ to each of the guests, with accompanying background music. This might be appropriate if the bride and groom are leaving directly after the ceilidh. Just let the caller know on the night if you want to do one of these, or get in touch if you want to know more.
REPERTOIRE OF DANCES:
Please note that these lists of dances are not exhaustive, as there are hundreds of dances from the British Isles. These are a selection of the easier dances that most people can manage at a social function such as a wedding. Please enquire if you have a favourite not listed here.
o Gay Gordons
o Strip the Willow
o Canadian Barn Dance
o Eightsome Reel
o Dashing White Sergeant
o The Military Twostep
o The St Bernard's Waltz
o The Swedish Masquerade
o The Foula Reel
o Orcadian Strip the Willow
o The Pride of Erin Waltz
o The Siege of Ennis
o Waves of Tory
o Walls of Limerick
o Pride of Dingle
o Bridge of Athlone
o Dorset Ring Dance
o Goathland Square
o Cumberland Square 8
o Clopton Bridge
o Quorndon Hill
o Circassian Circle
o Boston Tea Party
o 12 Meet
o Morpeth Rant
o Stoke Golding Country Dance
REPERTOIRE OF TUNES
We have a repertoire of hundreds of tunes from the British Isles: reels, jigs, hornpipes, slip jigs, polkas, waltzes, marches, ayres and strathspeys. We can also play some North American and European folk tunes for variety if you like. Listed below are a few of the best-known celtic tunes we play, but please get in touch if the tune/s you are looking for aren’t on this list - we do consider all client requests, subject to receiving an MP3 at least 3 weeks before the event and according to our professional opinion of the tune’s suitability to the instrumentation of the line up booked.
o Boys of Malin
o Sí Beag, Sí Mór
o Maid at the Spinning Wheel
o The Handsome Young Maids
o The Smiling Bride
o Mist Covered Mountain
o Loch Erin’s Shore
o Connaughtman’s Rambles
o The Irish Washerwoman
o The Silver Spear
o The Mason’s Apron
o The Earl’s Chair
o Atholl Highlanders
o Dark Island
o My Love is like a Red Red Rose
o Scotland The Brave
o 100 pipers
o Cock of the North
o Flowers of Edinburgh
o The Fairy Dance
o Marie’s Wedding
o St Anne’s Reel
o The New Rigged Ship
o Ship in Full Sail