“Be-Bop-A-Lula” -Yeh!

Over the past 12 months Keighley Local Studies Library has held a series of very popular  events celebrating the local music scene featuring bands, musicians and speakers but nothing could have prepared the Library for the huge crowd of music fans who turned up on Saturday,  8th December. It became standing room only quite quickly as nearly every chair in the building was commandeered for the burgeoning audience.

The afternoon  featured a rock n roll reunion with a band called the Elderberries,  whose lead singer is the legendary show business entrepreneur Garth Cawood and the event was more than ably compered by the equally legendary Small  Town Saturday Night author, former referee  and local celebrity, Trevor Simpson, making a return visit to Keighley.  The event almost literally raised the roof. Many had attended previous events but the word had spread and the library was soon humming and bouncing to the foot tapping and even impromptu jiving of some of these music lovers.

Garth Cawood’s experience as a music promoter and entertainer really showed in a spot-on performance with his band, despite Garth initially confessing to being “a bit nervous now” at performing in a library to such an unexpectedly large and enthusiastic audience. One member of the band confided that they had expected a quiet afternoon gig in a library – but this is Keighley Library!

Trevor Simpson was compère for the afternoon, back by popular demand, to start the show with a talk about the music of the 1960s in the Yorkshire area. Trevor also interviewed Garth about his career and the time he  purchased Keighley Variety Club at the end of the 1970s and changed its name to the Funhouse. Garth has been friends with many music and T.V. personalities throughout the years such as Tom Jones, Gene Vincent, Billy Fury, Jess Conrad, Diana Dors. The Rolling Stones actually supported Garth’s early band, The Dingos, in concert and Garth had introduced The Beatles on stage in Leeds in the early 1960s. Entertaining stories followed, such as the time Tom Jones (then in the charts at No 1 for Not Unusual) sang for Garth for the price of 4 pints and we loved the fact that Diana Dors, despite being a blonde bombshell in a more chauvinistic era, always managed to manage her manager and herself and even took the troublesome PJ Proby under her wing. All this made for a fascinating hour of music chat and entertainment and that was before the band even started playing!

This whole event was also enhanced by the talented work of local artist David Ingham with some magnificently skilled portraits of Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and David Bowie, some large scale, which added a certain gravitas to the library as a music venue extraordinaire. The children of the Keighley area were also not forgotten with a special Musical Rhymetime with Martin Henderson of Keighley’s Jamba community band which enabled children to share in the playing of a variety of musical instruments finishing with a rhythmic rendition of Jingle Bells.

Jill, Nina and Denise manned the very busy refreshment stand and managed to raise £121.46 for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal in support of Sue Ryder and Bradford Nightstop. All in all, the event proved the most popular to date. Questionnaires had been distributed to gain very useful feedback. The importance of such events to local people is indicated by the fact that 95% of the forms were actually completed and handed in (a record in itself). The comments were 100% favourable with the express wish for more such events, including future suggestions. Janet Mawson, event organiser, as Tom Jones himself might say – keep your thinking hat on and definitely those blue suede shoes!!

Charlie Bhowmick MBE was also in attendance on the ground floor of the library signing his newly published autobiography which has been going like hotcakes out of this building. It covers his journey from Calcutta to Keighley and has received wonderful reviews. The book is not for sale but a request to donate to charity on receipt of a copy has so far successfully realised £1188 in donations to Yorkshire Cancer Research, together with another £71 raised from the book signing on Saturday 8th December.  Copies are still available in Keighley Library; get your very own before stocks run out.

Gina Birdsall, Keighley Local Studies

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