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Un-Wedding Bands

From thirties swing to foot-stomping jazz, old-timey music is making a comeback.


The Hot Sardines  

Baby Soda
This band plays the kind of music you hope to hear, with a Sazerac in hand, on the thoroughfares of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Baby Soda’s effervescent, brassy, upbeat sound keeps your guests on the dance floor well into the night. Between gigs, you may catch the band on New York’s streets and subway platforms—or sneak a peek at Williamsburg’s St. Mazie (345 Grand St., nr. Marcy Ave.; 917-443-0848), where they regularly play Sunday nights. (Four to six players available; from $4,500; babysoda.org)

Amour Obscur
There’s something infectious about the madcap, accordion-heavy sounds of this Weimar cabaret- and sideshow-inspired band. Musical director Matt Dallow describes the outfit as “theatrical gypsy-punk cabaret,” and the ensemble certainly puts on a rollicking show. Fueled by jaunty rhythms, honking brass, unusual instruments, and a lead singer with a penchant for spangled corsetry, this group is not one to fade into the background. Before booking the band, check out a performance at one of its frequent gigs around town. (Two to six players and one dancer available; from $2,000; amourobscur.com)

Carte Blanche
Gatsby-worshipping, jitterbug- dancing types adore this band, and rightly so, as its sound evokes an era when stylish ladies donned long strands of pearls and their dates sported bow ties and Panama hats. Carte Blanche lays down clean, lively twenties and thirties jazz with frequent forays into international territory: Edith Piaf and Latin American tunes from the same era pop up often on its set list. (Three to six players available; prices upon request; carteblanchesamples.com)

The Hot Sardines
“Straight-up foot-stomping jazz” is how the Hot Sardines sum up its style, and it couldn’t be more accurate. Add to that a French-born front woman, “Miz Elizabeth,” who croons in both French and English, and you’ll see why this group packs the house at premium New York City venues, such as Joe’s Pub and Top of the Standard. The musicians get a kick out of performing both popular and lesser-known numbers. (Seven to eleven players available; prices upon request; hotsardines.com)

Oh La La!
Whether taking on classic jazz or French chansons, Oh La La!’s sound is always sultry, thanks to the stylings of its glamorous front woman Marie Michèle. Retro outfits and a vintage microphone contribute to the erstwhile vibe, but it’s not the least bit kitschy: This band’s members are top notch, some of whom haved played at Carnegie Hall and the White House for the Obamas and toured with Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis. The group also in-terprets soul and blues from the fifties and sixties. (One to seven players available; from $500 per musician; ohlalaband.com)

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