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Top 10 Bands and Musicians for Events

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A great event is one that will appeal to all the senses, and event planners hire bands and musicians to serve as the primary focus or background of an event. What's great about music is that it appeals to the sense of sound and sight, so two of the five senses are covered.

The following options aren't exclusive, but are certainly considered, depending on your event theme and budget.

1. Blues

Originating in the deep south and made famous through Chicago, event planners should consider blues bands for theme events with a club atmosphere combined with southern cooking and non-stop dancing all night. B.B. King and Muddy Waters were the pioneers.

Event planners should hire a band with a lead singer and the following instruments:

  • Bass
  • Drums
  • Guitar
  • Harmonica
  • Piano

2. Bluegrass

Bluegrass has a unique, informal sound, and its roots can be found in a combination of folk, blues, celtic, gospel and early country music. A distinctive sound that came into its own around the 1950s, it originated in Kentucky and was later influenced in Arkansas and Tennesse. This style of music is great for outdoor picnics and barbeques, among others.

Event planners should hire a quartet that includes acoustic stringed instruments and vocals:

  • Acoustic guitar
  • banjo
  • bass
  • fiddl
  • mandolin

For more information about bluegrass, check out the Top 10 Best Bluegrass Artists.

3. Classical

Event planners hire classical musicians for the appealing sound and ease of placing them anywhere, and they're great as background or a focal point. And a musician dressed in formal attire is a visually appealing touch of elegance for any event.

Classical musicians are hired as duo (2), trio (3), quartet (4), quintet (5), sextet (6), septet (7), octet (8), nonet (9), decet (10) and larger options exist.

  • Brass ensemble
  • Chamber music
  • Classical duo
  • Classical guitar
  • Classical piano
  • Classical trio
  • Harp
  • String quartet: two violins, one violo, one cello
  • Woodwind

Check out About.com's Introduction to Classical Music.

4. Country

Country music has a lot of crossover appeal to audiences, and hiring a country or western band is a great hit at outdoor and sporting events. In addition to some of the most compelling lyrics, country music usually incorporates any of the following instruments:

  • Autoharp
  • Banjo
  • Bass
  • Dobro
  • Drums
  • Dulcimer
  • Fiddle
  • Guitar
  • Harmonica
  • Mandolin
  • Piano
  • Pedal steel guitar
  • Washboard
  • Zither

The Country Music Hall of Fame includes a photo and sound sample for each of these instruments. And check out the Top 500 Country Music Songs.

5. Jazz

Jazz music is a successful hit for any corporate event that has a New Orleans theme or to recreate the big band era of the 1940s in a cozy club environment. And there are many styles of jazz, including hot jazz, swing jazz and latin jazz.

Event planners have a lot of options with jazz: trio, quartet, quintet, or sextet. Or, if you have the resources, a big jazz band could have 20 or more musicians. In addition to a great jazz singer, instruments include:

  • Accordian
  • Fiddle
  • Flute
  • Guitar
  • Keyboard
  • Mandolin
  • Percussion
  • Piano
  • Saxophone
  • Trumpet
  • Violin

Check out this jazz overview.

6. Pop and Rock

Pop music grew out of the rock era of the 50s and 60s, and appeals to the largest audience of people. Its style is influenced by rock, country, rhythm & blues and, yes, even disco. Pop bands are hired to encourage singing and dancing all night.

For more information about pop music, check out Pop Music 101.

7. Singers

In addition to the various band and music options, another consideration for an event planner is to hire vocalists. Popular options include:

  • A cappella
  • Barbershop quartet
  • Choral group

8. Solo Musicians

For a simple yet elegant touch that is also easier on a budget, event planners can hire a solo artist to create mood and background music at any point in time for a program. Classic options include the following:

  • Acoustic guitar
  • Banjo
  • Cello
  • Flute
  • Guitar
  • Harp
  • Percussion
  • Piano
  • Violin

9. Soul and Motown

Originating in the 1950s in Detroit, soul music was popularized by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokie Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner and others. And soul music is great to engage a crowd for an evening party. Soul has been influenced by many styles of music, including country, gospel and jazz.

Event planners should consider hiring a four member band with a great lead singer and the following instruments:

  • Bass
  • Drums
  • Guitar
  • Harmonica
  • Piano

For history and music samples, check out the profile on Motown Music.

10. World Music

World music offers an excellent touch for nearly every program. In addition to vocalists, sounds include:

  • Celtic: Bagpipes, banjo, fiddle, flute, harp and mandolins.

  • Greek: Bouzouki and guitar.

  • Hawaiian: Slack key guitar, steel guitar, ukulele and dancers.

  • Klezmer: bass, clarinet, cimbalom, saxophone, trumpet, violin and vocalist(s).

  • Latin: Conga drums, maracas, piano, saxophones, trombones, trumpets and upright bass.

  • Reggae: Bass drums, drums, guitar, steel pans, and percussion instruments.

  • Salsa: Saxophones, trombones and trumpets.

    Check out About.com's World Music Basics.

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