Swing Into Christmas - touring England this December!

Published: 06 Dec 2021

Down for the Count's Swing Into Christmas tour is underway - and coming to a theatre near you!

Our Christmas show features the full Down for the Count Concert Orchestra, featuring the fabulous sounds of City String Ensemble. The tour was launched to huge success in Bracknell last week and we're delighted to be touring 7 more venues throughout the month of December, and bringing some Christmas cheer to you all.

Tickets are selling well - so head over to the event pages to buy yours today!

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Swing Into Christmas 2021 Tour

Wed 15th Dec | St George's Hall, Liverpool | Tickets

Thu 16th Dec | The Bramall Music Building, Birmingham | Tickets
Fri 17th Dec | West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge | Tickets
Sat 18th Dec | Colyer-Fergusson Hall, Canterbury | Tickets
Sun 19th Dec | Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton | Tickets
Wed 22nd Dec | Cheltenham Town Hall, Cheltenham | Tickets
Wed 29th Dec | Cadogan Hall, London | Tickets
Audience feedback - A truly magical evening

Press release 

An Orchestra formed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown are set to take the stage at [venue] on [date] with their brand new touring show Swing Into Christmas, full of quintessential Christmas songs and classic tunes from the swing and big band eras - a festive treat not to be missed!  

Before the pandemic Down for the Count were known as one of the busiest bands on the UK swing and vintage music scene - touring as a 12-piece “mini big band” at jazz clubs like Ronnie Scotts, festivals such as The London Jazz Festival, and regional theatres throughout England and Scotland. 

When the pandemic struck the band’s touring work immediately ceased, but like other musicians who made the most of the unusual opportunities presented by lockdown, Down for the Count took to social media to perform in ways their fans had never seen before.

Early in the pandemic, wanting to do something positive for both the musicians in the band and the group’s fans, artistic director and conductor Mike Paul-Smith forged a new collaboration with City String Ensemble - expanding the band up to a 28-piece orchestra and spreading joy through their popular series of humorous lockdown videos. 

The videos were viewed nearly 1,000,000 times across all social media platforms, ultimately leading to the full-length album Lockdown for the Count and the birth of the Down for the Count Concert Orchestra.

Now the group is busy planning their first tour of 8 concert halls and theatres this November and December, where they will be performing music from their album Swing Into Christmas alongside classic tunes from the swing and big band eras - this time, in the same room as the audience.

“We didn’t know what to expect when we released our first lockdown video,” explains Mike Paul-Smith. “We wanted to do something positive to keep us occupied in the early days of the pandemic so we all got dressed up and filmed ourselves playing Nat King Cole’s Let’s Face The Music and Dance in our living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and bathtubs. Then Sophie Poteratchi, who in addition to leading City String Ensemble also is a fantastic videographer, did a masterful job of collating everyone’s individual video clips into a joyful 3-minute film which got viewed around the world - including by a certain Michael Bublé!’

Buoyed by the success of the first video the group released a series of other videos - forging yet more collaborations with Birmingham’s Town Hall Gospel Choir, and LA-based singer Richard Shelton. As Down for the Count’s vocalist Hannah Castleman says, “making these lockdown videos was something to keep us feeling creative at a time where performing in person wasn’t possible. It was a real pleasure to stay engaged with our fans in this way and to also be doing something as a team.”

Even though the videos helped the orchestra reach new fans around the world, closer to home the financial situation was still perilous until support arrived in the form of the Cultural Recovery Fund, administered for the government by Arts Council England. “There’s no question that the Cultural Recovery Fund was a lifeline to us - it helped us continue to rehearse and perform together later in the pandemic, when things were still struggling to get back to normal,” explains Paul-Smith. “We were able to use the funding to produce live streamed concerts, which supported the individual musicians in the band, and receiving it has put us in the fortunate position where we’re able to plan a tour of exciting venues throughout the UK, many of which we are visiting for the first time.”

 Down for the Count Concert Orchestra performing at Cadogan Hall

Down for the Count’s charming show, Swing Into Christmas, offers a glamorous and sophisticated festive treat for all the family. The band’s  joie de vivre and irresistible humour, coupled with the top class musicianship and sublime vocal performances, creates a warm and engaging show that is not to be missed. The orchestra performs original arrangements of festive and jazz classics, and also recreates the beautiful sounds of the great Capitol Studios recordings of the 1950s, which helped bring artists like Frank Sinatra, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Judy Garland to worldwide fame. 

However, this is not just a nostalgia trip - Down for the Count breathes new life into the best vintage music, also performing original arrangements of festive and jazz classics. They introduce the classic songs in a warm and engaging style, with their trademark wit and wry sense of humour, and their obvious on-stage energy and friendship keeps audiences returning to see the band time and time again.  As the orchestra’s lead violinist Sophie Poteratchi says, “this music really is the epitome of Christmas for us, and it is a pleasure to be touring so many beautiful and historical concert venues, sharing all of our musical holiday favourites with the new audience who discovered us over lockdown.”’

This is a Christmas concert not to be missed - so grab your friends and loved ones and head along to your nearest concert hall to enjoy the return of live concerts in Autumn 2021.

About the author

Mike Paul-Smith

Mike Paul-Smith has over 18 years experience in delivering bespoke live music and entertainment packages for wedding receptions and corporate events across London, the UK and internationally.

He is the company director, pianist and musical director of Down for the Count.

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