Festival celebrates learning disabled and non-learning disabled bands

Carousel's monthly Rock House gigs for learning disabled and non-learning disabled bands have become a day-long festival.

Zombie Crash               credit Matthew Bellringer
Zombie Crash credit Matthew Bellringer

The Rock House Festival will be on Saturday, July 29 at Green Door Store, Brighton.

Spokeswoman Lisa Wolfe said: “Eight years ago, Constant Flux promoter Richard Phoenix and musician Tom Cook started a band night with a difference. It was born out of a desire by the learning-disabled musicians they worked with to regularly play and perform in front of a mixed audience in their hometown; the focus was to provide as much stage time as possible for these musicians.

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“Fast forward to 2017 and The Rock House has become a monthly fixture at the Westhill Hall and now The Green Door Store, with bands such as Joy Rides, Witching Waves and Curst Sons playing alongside Catherine O’Rourke, Beat Express and Dancing Rock Queens.

“To celebrate its success and give the stage to more bands and a bigger audience, Carousel is promoting the first Rock House Festival, on Saturday, July 29. This is a unique event, breaking down barriers for musicians with and without learning disabilities to play together in front of an enthusiastic, integrated audience. It’s as different and as forward thinking as anything else you might see in Brighton.”

Ryan O’Donovan, guitarist with Zombie Crash, said: “As an artist with special needs, singing and playing guitar in studios and on stage has always been where my worth as an individual lies. There’s nothing else that can equal that. Whether it’s with Beat Express, Zombie Crash or when playing solo, there’s a reason my catchphrase is ‘always out to rock out.’ It’s because I don’t let anything get in my way to do what I love. And even if I never become some massively successful rockstar selling out arenas worldwide and charting high, I won’t give up what I already have. I make all the use of it that I can.”

The daytime line-up is:

Seadog – a myriad sound of lullabies with anthemic electric and acoustic textures The Carbonators – rock, punk, blues, soul and jazz all mixed up into good phonics Sabien Gator – multi-talented, multi-instrumentalists

2Decks – a rock/rap crossover band

Patioland – two piece anti-folk band

Evening line-up:

Zombie Crash – a learning-disabled metal band

Sauna Youth – London-based post-punk four-piece

Dog Chocolate –four Londoners

The Daniel Wakeford Experience – singer-songwriter and star of the learning-disabled music scene with his band

Prince Vaseline – hypnotic and ethereal songs from Brighton duo

Time: 1pm-5pm and 6pm-10pm.

Lisa added: “Carousel is a learning disability-led arts charity that helps learning disabled artists develop and manage their creative lives, true to their voice and vision, challenging expectations of what great art is and who can create it.

“Working primarily in music, film, digital and audio art, it won the 2017 Every Day Impact Award by the Directory of Social Change and reached 45,000 people through its work in 2016. Based in Brighton for over 30 years, Carousel is a registered charity and an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. www.carousel.org.uk.”