Our Manifesto

The aim of a Signs of Life event is that everyone has a good time.  The band generates an atmosphere of intimacy and warmth wherever they play. 

Whether presenting a concert or making a party happen in a field, they enhance the mood of the moment.   Often, a few blazing riffs on the fiddle or an infectious blast of double bass rhythm will start things off.  Carefully crafted playlists are sometimes abandoned because a Scotsman, hearing a strathspey, wants to dance; or an expatriate Spanish lady, moved by hearing the music of her homeland, wants to hear more from Galicia. 

The band will adapt, drawing on a truly vast repertoire, and the party will take off – with everyone present contributing to the enjoyment.  This type of music survives because it is real and vibrant, touching people in a way that commercialised music seldom does.  Remember that this music is passed on from person to person, and that each musician changes the music a little - making it both unique and universal.   It never stands still and is always fresh.

Signs of Life have travelled widely in Europe, sharing tunes with fellow musicians as they go.  They enjoy bringing music from various regions together, creating eccentric combinations, without losing the character of each:  not so much ‘Fusion’ as ‘Welding’!  These blends work well to enhance each other in the same way that party guests from different cultures usually enjoy each others’ company; it makes for vivid cultural encounters.

Many Westerners have lost touch with their own roots, but can often relate to ‘the exotic’ – such as gypsy music.  However, such music placed alongside music of a similar character and structure, from their own culture, can open eyes to the vibrancy of the home-grown.  Living traditional music in the British Isles is no longer the province of vicars on bicycles diligently collecting rural ballads before they die out entirely.  We have to thank them for that; but things move on.

Our own vicar, a keen Morris dancer, is passionate about having pan-cultural events in the 12th century church – and actively encouraged Signs of Life to lead a Bosnian dance through the aisles and around the font during one of their eclectic concerts.  A poignant Yiddish lullaby set beside a Scottish lament touches people universally, whatever their background or belief system.

This music brings people together, and the band salutes all the dancers and singers, fellow-musicians and audiences who join with them to celebrate life.  Human hearts still beat to the old rhythms, and whether joyful or sorrowful, soothing or fiery, this music joins us together.

The band is sometimes asked how come they play Irish music if they aren’t Irish-born or Gypsy music if they are not Roma.  They usually reply that they also play Mozart, and they are not Austrian either.  Music crosses borders, and flows in around the gaps between peoples.  Music links us all by the heartbeat.  This band understands that and encourages it to happen wherever they go.

On their travels, they have often been asked to play for family or community celebrations, and the community dance element is always popular.  The band’s versatility allows for spontaneous developments to arise – such as an outbreak of tango dancing, followed by a sensitive backing for a fado singer (Portuguese christening party) – or the spontaneous spoons-playing workshop for kids (Poland) – the massed Spanish chorus of Cockles and Mussels accompanied by Asturian pipers (Northern Spain) - or the vodka-fuelled four–am Irish ceilidh dancing in a tiny bar in Northern Poland – or Palestinian folk dances to Scottish reels (honest!)

The band feels honoured every time people take them and the music to their hearts.  A big thank you to  the good people who know what this music is and value it...

Let us all help to keep these gatherings alive.