What Is A Wedding Ceilidh? Charlie Abel from Iron Broo, one of Scotland’s premier Ceilidh Bands explains how it all works and even plays us some traditional Scottish Wedding tunes.
Listen to Charlie on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…
James: [00:00:00] So Gordon what do you think brides and grooms to be should be asking Charlie about booking a Ceilidh Band.
Gordon: [00:00:11] What they should be asking him? How do you get people up to dance? How intricate are the dances going to be? Are people going to understand? We’ve got Guests maybe coming from America or from London and they don’t necessarily know the Ceilidh dance. So how can you make sure they get involved? I think a bride and groom would want to know about things like, you know, if there was going to be a first dance, what sort of first dance would that be? Is it going to be maybe less Scottish or can you only do Scottish dance country music? Can you do other styles of music? That type of question too possibly.
Charlie: [00:01:05] Well for the first dance we can either do the traditional Scottish type of thing like the grand march, a folk song or something that would suit the band.
Because we’re a Ceilidh band and a traditional sounding Ceilidh band we use an accordion and banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, fiddle. We’re not going to be able to do a rock number. There are bands that sort of try and do both. But I personally think the line up for a Ceilidh band is a different thing from doing a pop covers band. They’re two different things. So for my taste, the line ups are different. But we can play an iPod if the bride and groom want that. With our disco we can play any track for a first dance. Quite often they’ll have a grand march and then after the grand march we’ll move aside or put on Ed Sheeran, a popular one at the moment. We’ll put on a bit of that for the first dance and then we’ll go into the Ceilidh and then we’ll have some background music during the buffet and then go back to the Ceilidh till midnight. And then for the last hour we may have the disco again for an hour. That’s a popular format, the Ceilidh passes really quick and it’s usually the Ceilidh that’s the bit that’s making it for them. And all the dancers are easy. No matter where the people are from. We’ve had people from all nationalities doing Ceilidh’s and always absolutely no problem.
Gordon: [00:02:50] I think that’s a great answer really because it’s like saying to the bride and groom, you know, this is what we do, there’s no kind of false expectations on their part about what they’re going to get. And they know if that’s they want, they definitely need to be wanting to have a Ceilidh band and know that you’ve got a wide repertoire that you are able to you know bring along people who don’t know about Ceilidh music and you’re flexible but actually your heart and soul is a Ceilidh band and if they book you, they’ve got to know that they want to have a Ceilidh band.
Charlie: [00:03:31] Yeah, yeah, aye, we’re a Ceilidh band. We’re not a pop covers band. We’re not going to start jumping around and pretending to be something that we’re definitely not.
There was somebody that asked if we could do a Tina Turner number. And we said well why are you asking us for Tina Turner? I just love “Proud Mary”, could you do “Proud Mary”. I said well, it’s a brilliant track, yeah we could do it with the disco. No I want your band to do it. I said, sure we can do it but we’re not going to sound like Tina Turner because we don’t have drums, we don’t have electric guitar. I’m not a bad singer, but I’m no Tina Turner. It would be fun, we could possibly do a “Proud Mary”, I would have a go at that but it wouldn’t be what she was expecting.
James: [00:04:27] Could be interesting though!
Charlie: [00:04:30] It would yeah, yeah. We do a few others, a bit of Johnny Cash, our own doric version of a Johnny Cash. We also do like Dubliners stuff and Corries stuff. But that stuff lends itself to the line up of a Ceilidh band.
James: [00:04:57] When you say iPod Charlie, is that the disco option or are they two independent things?
Charlie: [00:05:00] They’re two independent things. I mean we could play it if they haven’t booked our disco option, we don’t charge anything for plugging an iPod in, during the break or whenever. Then we do for an additional charge we do a disco option, which is for a proper disco with lights and the stuff’s all mixed live. So it’s a different beastie!
James: [00:05:26] Yeah because you’ll be reading the audience in that scenario I assume?
Charlie: [00:05:33] Yeah, it’s better to do that than to have a playlist. The bride and groom might like certain tracks which you put on, on the night, and people might not like it. And some people say things to me like oh we don’t want any cheesy music on during the disco.
And I say well what’s cheesy music? Because somebody may think one track’s cheesy and somebody else might think it’s a disco classic and it should be played. Whenever they’ve had a couple of drinks and they’re coming up and they’re asking for the disco classics, what do you do? As a rule I try to keep the floor full and see what works. I’ve always managed to do that, it’s never not worked so far, touch wood.
James: [00:06:09] So with a disco option then would you do a ceilidh set, a disco set, a ceilidh set, a disco set or would it more like be a ceilidh set then and then a disco set?
Charlie: [00:06:19] Well apart from the first dance, I would recommend that it’s best to keep things separate so you have your first dance may it be to a disco track or two, fair enough. Then the Ceilidh up to the buffet and our background music.
So it’s not a full on disco during the buffet, you don’t really want but that at that time of night, it may not be appropriate. Then go back to the Ceilidh and play on till however long it goes, until around 11.30pm or 12 o’clock. And then go for the disco full on for the last hour or so. That way you’re not destroying the atmosphere of the Ceilidh. I find if you put a full on disco and then try to go back to Ceilidh, some want disco, some want Ceilidh. There’s a little bit of conflict going. The disco will destroy the atmosphere of the Ceilidh and it’s difficult to get that back sometimes. I think it’s best to keep the disco until the end. I think when people are planning their wedding they think in advance, they look at the time and think oh an hour and a half of Ceilidh, that’s a lot. It’s not! Flies by really, really quick. When you’ve got your buffet and the buffet may take half an hour, forty five minutes. When most weddings don’t run on time as you probably know so they probably won’t start at the eight o clock that they’ve planned, it might be nine o clock. The buffet’s out at half past nine, so there will have already been one Ceilidh dance. So a little bit of background music and then the disco, best to keep right to the end, I find. A lot of the older people, they don’t like loud noise and you want to keep people to the end of the wedding as much as possible. Because you want to have a climax at the end of the evening. You want to have the bride and groom on the floor surrounded by a lot of people lifting them off a floor with a Loch Lomond or Auld Lang Syne, however you’re ending the night. You want that magic moment at the end of the night. And if you put a disco on at nine, ten o’clock and think, oh, the Ceilidh is not going to work. I’ve seen that happen once. The bride insisted, they put a disco on after we did two dances because she didn’t think the Ceilidh was going to work. But the last hour there was hardly anyone dancing. It kind of ruined her Wedding. You can’t argue with the Brides. They want what they want. Sometimes it’s not always the right thing.
James: [00:08:57] A quick bonus question for you then. Have You ever done a ceilidh in any venues in Yorkshire.
Charlie: [00:09:01] Erm, Yorkshire… I’ve played down near Durham a few places around there, and Hexham and there’s a cool, cool place near south of Durham, I played there once. Quite a while ago, I’m not sure if that’s as far as Yorkshire.
James: [00:09:30] Not quite, on the border.
Charlie: [00:09:32] Well south from here anyway.
James: [00:09:34] Yeah absolutely. Great! Well that was superb thanks so much Charlie.