You don’t have to limit yourself to toe tapping or finger snapping when you hear a live performance of Voices of the Village.
The band provides a box of instruments for the audience to play along — tambourines, maracas and cowbells, for example. It makes the joyful music Voices of the Village plays all the more fun to listen to. You can even bring your instrument with you to the dance floor.
Voices of the Village is a 27-member musical ensemble that performs throughout the Puget Sound region of Washington state and beyond.
The band consists of musicians and performers who have developmental disabilities plus guest musicians who sit in at jam sessions and shows. The audience at their annual concert is made up of people who have disabilities and their family, friends and caregivers.
Musician Jon Dalgarn first organized the band about 10 years ago and still leads it. Adults with a wide ranges of abilities sing and play a variety of instruments: drums, keyboards, accordions, banjos, saxophones and even an Australian didgeridoo.
Dalgarn had already worked with adults with disabilities through Village Community Services residential and vocational assistance programs in Arlington. But participating in the band, he said, allows people to express their artistic spirit and joy of living.
“It really changes their lives,” Dalgarn told The Arlington Reporter newspaper. “By being able to express themselves in this way, they learn a bit more about how to deal with the world, and the world learns how to deal with them. This is the best gig in the world, because there is so much unmitigated joy in their performances. We hand microphones to people who, in many ways, didn’t have a voice, so that they can sing and hear other people clapping for them. It’s about way more than music. They have a real passion for it.”
In addition to playing gigs through out the Northwest, Voices of the Village hosts weekly Friday Music Jam Sessions and the monthly Evening with the Arts dance in Arlington.
The band’s influences include the Monkees, Beatles, Eagles and Steve Miller Band. They play “good country” (Elvis and Johnny Cash) and contemporary pop, show tunes, holiday music, Frank Sinatra and original compositions by Dalgarn.