What are Swing, Jive, & Rock and Roll Bands?
Swing, jive, and rock and roll bands are energetic ensembles that perform a wide range of lively music spanning the 1940s onwards. Bands will typically perform well-known retro classics, creating a range of moods and sounds by blending jazz, rhythm ‘n’ blues, Lindy hop, jump jive and rock and roll with their uniquely enthusiastic showmanship and sense of fun! Often, they perform contemporary popular music with a swing twist.
Sporting a look to match their music, swing bands often dress in sharp vintage styles (usually from the ‘40s, ‘50s or ‘60s), with a fantastic stage presence that harks back to an era of glamour and style. Swing bands and artists vary in size and line-up, but most will feature typical instruments like the double bass, piano, brass section, harmony vocals and electric guitar.
Popular artist types
1. Swing Bands
With its roots in jazz, swing bands will cover a range of timeless classics from the last 70 years, such as Sinatra and Nina Simone, and will often cover their contemporary counterparts, like Harry Connick Junior and Michael Bublé. Many also offer a swing style twist on modern tracks, from Katy Perry to Nirvana.
On the Alive Network website a wide range of artists describe themselves as swing artists. There is a guide specifically about Rat Pack swing singers, which you might like to read if it’s more appropriate. This guide focusses mainly on swing, jive, & rock and roll bands.
2. Jive Bands
Up-tempo jive bands draw from a rich legacy of music from the 1930s onwards, with authentic 1940s arrangements, 1950s rock and roll, 1960s crooner classics, to contemporary tracks with a retro twist. Jive bands will cover artists from each decade, including:
- 1940s: The Andrews Sisters, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, the Glenn Miller Band
- 1950s: Chuck Berry, Elvis, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frank Sinatra
- 1960s: Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, The Rat Pack
- Current popular music reworked into a jive style – covering artists from Beyoncé and Pharrell Williams to Paloma Faith.
3. Rock and Roll Bands
Authentic, fun and energetic, rock and roll bands have a repertoire from the 50s and 60s that’s instantly recognisable. Featuring music from artists like Eddie Cochran, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Chuck Berry, The Beatles and Little Richard.
4. Close Harmony Groups
Beautifully harmonised vocals, sharp dance routines and fabulous glamour, reminiscent of wartime sweethearts entertaining the troops, these groups cover songs from artists such as The Andrews Sisters, Marilyn Monroe, Glenn Miller, Ray Charles, The Chordettes, Ella Fitzgerald, and Peggy Lee.
What music will they play?
Swing, jive, and rock and roll music has a fun and energetic vibe, with tunes from a dynamic musical era spanning the 1920s to the 1950s. Our bands will also play modern songs in a swing style as part of their repertoire, which gives the songs a new life!
While some bands stick to one era within their repertoire, such as rock and roll, many will cover the whole breadth. The example setlists below are presented to give you a feel for what each band type offers:
A typical Swing Band setlist includes:
- Frank Sinatra
- Duke Ellington
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Louis Prima
- Billie Holiday
- Stéphane Grappelli
- Peggy Lee
- Cab Calloway
- Count Basie
- Glen Miller
A Jive Band setlist includes:
- Louis Prima
- Cab Calloway
- Bobby Darin
- Louis Armstrong
- Dean Martin
- Big Joe Turner
- Sammy Davis Jnr
- Fats Waller
- Slim Gaillard
- Leo Watson
A Rock and Roll Band includes:
- Elvis Presley
- Bill Hayley and His Comets
- Buddy Holly
- Chuck Berry
- The Everly Brothers
- Jerry Lee Lewis
- Fats Domino
- Fats Waller
- Little Richard
- Ray Charles
Our bands set lists are featured on their profile pages.
Where in the UK do Alive's Swing & Rock and Roll Bands perform?
Our swing jive bands can headline at a range of occasions – from weddings and private parties to corporate events – at locations across the UK and internationally. They most frequently perform in:
Most popular counties:
Most popular cities:
Is a Swing, Jive or Rock and Roll Band suitable for my event?
Swing, jive, and rock and roll bands specialise in lively and energetic performances, guaranteed to fill the dance floor! Usually the headline evening entertainment, these artists are perfect for vibrant events including:
Due to the retro nature of a swing, jive, and rock and roll band’s style and performance, they are often booked for vintage-themed events. For example, a swing artist might help recreate an exuberant, jitterbugging 1940s war-time dance hall, complete with GI uniforms, victory rolls and nylon stockings!
Likewise, this was music made for dancing, so such bands are perfect for events where you want your guests to get up and jump around! Equally, guests can just tap their feet and enjoy the vibe.
In terms of audience, swing, jive and rock and roll bands are pretty universal. Reworking pop songs into ingenious vintage arrangements, these performers not only play the classics but give chart hits that everyone knows a retro spin, delighting audiences of all ages in the process.
There are many different formats within this genre, from soloists and duos, to 18-piece bands, all covering either one of or a whole range of musical styles. For example, Vintage Lianna is a solo singer, covering 50s and 60s rock and roll, Jazz and Doo Wop; The Jackpots are a pure rock and roll 3-piece band; while trio The Melodic Belles specialise in 40s and 50s swing vocals; and Elaina and The West Coast Stompers are a 6-piece jive and swing band.
Many of our swing bands offer flexibility for your event. Some can perform scaled-down acoustic versions of their sets for wedding ceremonies and afternoon receptions, for instance, adding members in the evening for a big band line-up, and turning your party into a real event!
Swing bands are also a great choice for exuberant corporate events, fun cocktail parties, and can provide walk-on music for awards ceremonies.
How loud are Swing & Rock and Roll bands?
The line-up, instruments and the room acoustics will determine the volume of your chosen band. Live performances are exhilarating, and a large band will produce plenty of volume to get your guests moving, particularly if they feature brass instruments. A standard volume level of 95db – 110 dB (decibels) is typical.
If your chosen venue has volume restrictions or a sound limiter installed, there are ways that your bands can work with this, while keeping the tone upbeat and fun. Drummers can use ‘hot rod’ drumsticks or brushes, which can reduce the overall volume of the band. Alternatively, you can choose a band without drums, like Crusaders of Swing or The King Bees.
If you choose a smaller line-up to play background music at a wedding or drinks reception, the volume can range from around 65 – 85 dB. At this level, guests are able to chat pretty comfortably.
How much do Swing Bands & Rock and Roll Bands cost?
The cost of swing, jive, and rock and roll bands varies depending on the line-up, and the various options each band offers.
In 2017, the average price of a 5-piece band is around £2,100. You can expect to pay more for a larger band, and less for a solo singer or duo artists.
This table shows the range of fees for different types of swing acts:
|Type of Act
||£300 - £600
||£340 - £820
||£480 - £2,540
||£700 - £3,600
|7-piece bands +
||£1,900 - £3,760
|Big bands & jazz orchestras
||£2,140 - £3,760+
Booking a band that lives locally to your venue is one way to a get a great artist at a lower cost, as travel cost will be minimal. The home town location of all Alive Network swing bands are shown on their profile pages, and your Entertainment Coordinator can also recommend the best band close to your venue.
Who are the top 10 Swing, Jive, & Rock and Roll Bands in the UK right now?
From charming and chintzy to retro cool, this hot list features our most popular swing, jive, and rock and roll bands in the UK right now. This is based on a variety of performance quality, popularity and innovation:
For a list of Alive's most booked swing singers and swing bands right now, see our 'Top 10 Swing Singers & Swing Bands For Hire in 2017' article
How long will a Swing Bands or Rock and Roll Bands play for?
A standard performance usually includes two sets of 45- or 60-minutes, with breaks in-between, but you can choose to split the performance up slightly differently if you prefer.
Most bands can tailor their performance timing to suit your event. For a wedding, for example, they might play 40 minutes of light lounge music during the drinks reception, take a break, then reappear to pack the dance floor at the wedding party.
Bands can perform for up to 3 hours for an extra fee, and some offer the option for later finishes. You can find the booking options on each swing, jive or rock and roll artist’s profile page.
How much space will a Swing Band need?
This guide shows approximately how much space a swing, jive, and rock and roll band will require for their performance:
|Size of Swing, Jive, & Rock and Roll Band
||Performance Space Required
| Solo singer:
||2 x 2 metres
| Duo artists:
||3 x 2 metres
| 3-piece band:
||3 x 3 metres
| 4-piece band:
||4 x 3 metres
| 5 and 6-piece band:
||5 x 3 metres
| 7-piece band and bigger:
||5/6 x 4 metres
If your band features dancers, remember to consider this, ensuring there’s plenty of space at your venue so they can give you their best performance. Your Alive Network Event Coordinator can provide you with specific measurements for your chosen band.
How long will it take for a Swing, Jive, & Rock and Roll Band to set up?
A band will take around 60 – 90 minutes to unload, set up and sound check, depending on how close they can park relative to the performance area. Some busy city-based hotels insist bands load in via a supplier’s entrance, using a shared staff elevator. This can greatly extend set up times.
After the performance, it takes around 20 – 60 minutes to pack down and load out.
What equipment will they need?
- parking provision with easy access to the venu
- a secure, lockable changing room
- a dedicated, suitably-sized, safe, dry, flat performance area or stage. Large bands will require a 2-tiered stage, so that the back row of musicians can be seen.
- if performing outside – by prior agreement – they will need cover from the ever-changing elements!
- sturdy, armless chairs for acoustic musicians and larger swing bands
- a minimum of four 13 amp power sockets, depending on the line-up
- good lighting, especially if playing in a marquee, for example
- refreshments – soft drinks and sometimes food, for example, depending on the length of time you’ve booked them for.
For larger venues, some bands may need to bring a bigger capacity sound system, which will require extra power and extra space. Others will be quite happy to bring their own compact PA systems that may include vintage items such as amps and microphones, just to complete their onstage image.
If you’re organising a large event with over 200 guests, you may need to hire a separate PA system. Our dedicated Entertainment Coordinators are happy to discuss the requirements for specific swing-jive bands.
For a more comprehensive swing, jive, & rock and roll band booking guide please read ‘Booking a swing, jive, & rock and roll band – Everything you’ll ever need to know’.
If you have any other queries, simply visit our FAQ page.
Alternatively, our dedicated expert entertainment coordinators are on-hand to help. Simply call 0845 108 5500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.