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Malik's Ultimate Band
Malik's Ultimate Band
Photo: Courtesy of Malik's Ultimate Band

Hiring a great band in the Chicago area isn’t hard—there are hundreds to choose from. But finding performers who will work within a small budget can be a bit more challenging. Here’s who planners recommend.

For March for Babies, the March of Dimes’s annual walk-a-thon benefit, senior community director Karrie White has hired the Downtown Charlie Brown Blues Band for the past few years. The energetic ensemble’s repertoire isn’t limited to blues; they mix things up for this family-friendly event, including jazz, funk, R&B, and ‘50s rock. “They've continually proven to be reliable, easy to work with, and are always a crowd-pleaser, playing the classics that everyone loves to hear,” White says. Pricing for the quintet, which includes male and female singers in its lineup, starts at about $2,000, and the band will work with planners’ budgets.

When planning a recent day-long conference for 250 banking and real estate professionals that took place at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook, LaShanda Neal of Atlanta-based Exquisite Events found Bossa Tres, a Brazilian jazz trio with a subtle-yet-sultry sound played by a guitarist, percussionist, and singer. “Bossa Tres was very easy to work with, even accommodating a last-minute time change for us,” Neal says. The band’s pricing ranges from $850 to $1,500, depending on the length of the show. There are additional fees for equipment and expenses.

Bandleader Malik Cohran got his start performing with his family outside of Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue. It wasn’t long before his Mag Mile neighbors started hiring the group to play at various events. For a recent symposium on pediatric neuro-oncology that took place at Navy Pier, organizing committee member Kathy Tomita tapped Malik’s Ultimate Band, a high-energy ensemble that played everything from rock and pop to R&B, disco, and contemporary dance music for the organization's gala fund-raiser. “I had started to worry that people might not dance because many of our clients came for the conference only,” Tomita says. “But we filled the dance floor with enthusiasm thanks to the fabulous music.” Cohran also heads up Malik’s Jazz Arts Ensemble and Malik’s Ultimate Vocal Ensemble, which are also available for events. Prices start at $2,000.

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