Go On, Be Different, I Dare Ya

Last weekend (April 30) we played our first festival of the year on the outside stage at the Diversity Festival in Connahs Quay, North Wales. The organisation for the bands and the level of help and equipment available was great and this was their fist year! The fact that festivals improve over the years means that this great idea for a festival will only get better. The aim of the festival is to raise awareness for people who dare to be different, whether it’s wearing skull pants on stage while playing guitar with a broken finger, being a Goth or Emo or anything else that seems to have a label, it’s important that people who don’t conform to the norm are allowed to be different, after all, if we all liked the same music, the same band, the same racing team, football club, the same sport, the same lifestyle or wear the same clothes, what a boring world it would be. Imagine everyone dressed in navy blue suits, hair cut sensibly short, every man clean shaven, every woman wearing a knee length skirt. You’d never be able to find anyone.

Go on, be different, I dare ya.

Look in the mirror tomorrow morning and grow a goatee, colour your hair pink, dress brightly, put that Hawaiian shirt on.

Go on. Do it. You know you want to.

This blog wasn't supposed to be about being different, I was going to tell you about playing at a festival, so here goes…

On April the 30th 2016 in Connahs Quay there were at least 3 firsts taking place, it was the first ever Diversity Festival, it was the first time Skyeladder had played in Connahs Quay and it was the first time our bassist, Adam had played a festival and an outdoor stage, actually, I can’t count, that’s 4 firsts!

Personally I'm so pleased that Adam joined us, he’s gelled really nicely with the rest of the band, in fact I have to say that having spent most of my life in bands of one type or another, this is the nicest band I've ever been in, they’re a really great bunch, no massive egos, just really nice people who also happen to be massively talented. I'm a lucky boy.

Playing the Diversity Festival was for me, at least a real challenge. The weekend before I slipped down the garden steps at home and saw the house coming towards my head at a speed that it really shouldn't have been moving at, I put my right hand out to stop my head hitting the wall and my ring finger got squashed between the edge of the windowsill and my head. When Janie saw it she said we needed to got to A&E cos it was broken, when the doc saw it, even before the x-ray he said it was broken, so after x-rays of my hand and a CT scan of my head (to see if there really was a pea rattling round in there) I was sent home with orders to rest my bruised ribs, bruised head and bust finger. I hate not being able to do anything, but if I was going to play at Connahs Quay, I had to rest. In the final rehearsal before the festival, all I could do was sit and listen and add my dodgy backing vocals.

I did as I was told but still turned up to the festival with my arm in a sling (to protect my shoulder) and my fingers still splinted. We set up on stage with the help of the sound technicians, who couldn't do more for us. We had our sound-check and were ready to rock. There I was, skull pants on and guitar round my neck. Once I popped on my hat we were ready to go. The sun shone, the crowd were appreciative and supportive and I attempted to play as best I could. I’d like to say that it went without a hitch, and mostly it did, but my splint caught in the strings on quite a few occasions and, boy, did it hurt when it did, but you keep going, the army were there, so there was no way I was going to wimp out in front of them. One other mishap that’s worth mentioning is that the beater – that’s the foam type thing on the end of a drum pedal, for those who don’t know – came off of Phils kick drum pedal, and amazingly, mid-song he was able to, with the help of his drumming son, Tom, repair the pedal without missing beat. Kudos to Phil on that one, cos if I hadn't looked round to hide a grimace from the pain in my finger, I wouldn't have noticed.

It’s always fun to play outdoor festivals and it’s even better when the people are as pleasant and helpful as they were at the Diversity Festival.

Straight after we’d finished our set, Janie had to rush off, she was taking part in the Alternative Fashion show, this amazing show aims to raise awareness and create social change around prejudice and hate crime. Hand and glove with the Diversity Festival, really. So Janie disappeared and Phil, Tom and me and my skull pants went to get the best seats in the house, ready to throw rotten tomatoes at her. Luckily we couldn't find any rotten tomatoes, cos the show was great, as usual, even the snake made an appearance. Janie was dancing away on stage for quite a while, proving what a trooper she is, she did the fashion show and the Skyeladder set with a bad cold and bad back, what a bunch of crocks we are.

Finally, I’d like to apologise for any typos that appear in this blog, it’s not easy playing guitar with a broken finger and it’s just as hard trying to type.

If you’d like more information about the Diversity Festival and it’s aims just go to http://www.diversityfestival.co.uk/

If you’d like more information about the Alternative Fashion team just go to http://alternativefashionfest.co.uk/

And if you’d like more information about the band that has a guitarist who goes on stage with a hat, skull pants and a broken finger, has a bassist who’s playing his first open air show, a singer who has a bad back and a drummer who’s kit falls apart, then you want more info on Skyeladder and you can get that by going straight to www.skyeladder.net

Once you’re there, you’ll find that I still need to rest my hand cos there are more festivals coming up. I hope we’ll see you there, so go and get you’re tickets now, you know you want to


Paul, the one with the broken finger.

PS. Did I mention, I’ve broken a finger?

PPS. A big thank you goes to Stephen Pearson for the great photos of Skyeladder at the Diversity Festival

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