A sunshine summer day in the city could not be better celebrated than with upbeat rock ‘n’ roll bands, superb singers, and a locally famous comedic host – Keighley Library had it all. The atmosphere was buzzing with a capacity crowd of over 200 pop fans, over 800 visitors to the library on the day (Saturday 9th June) and £213 raised for the charity St Martin’s House by the brave staff manning the very busy refreshment area.
The afternoon kicked off with an introduction to the 1950s like no other by local historian and former Reference Librarian of Keighley Library, Mr Ian Dewhirst MBE. He spoke of how rock ‘n’ roll music seemed to have passed him by in a flurry of 2 years of National Service and helping in his dad’s shop. He said, “The only song I liked was Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly, but he died and that was that!” After hearing the Doveston Brothers, however, Ian acknowledged that he must have absorbed more of this burgeoning pop culture because he did indeed recognise many of the songs. Ian’s continued funny and informative account of the fifties and sixties did not lack spice as he spoke of having to help in a newsagent’s with a top shelf collection. He mentioned no names but said that he was surprised at the identity of some of the local customers. Not surprisingly, all this racey activity led to a request for information about sex from Ian, the teenager, when he and his dad were riding tandem through the countryside. His dad didn’t fall off the bike but apparently went very quiet and after a couple more miles said simply, “Both the man and the woman have to agree, Son,” which brought the house down.
The Doveston Brothers was just one of two of Keighley’s finest bands of this era. They had formerly played twice at the London Palladium and though they had not played for 45 years, their winning professionalism shone through with a brilliant set of 60s covers. Brian Eldee’s voice is still superb and the audience was treated to Everly Brothers’ favourites as well as more rock ‘n’ roll songs. As a special treat for Janet Mawson, who organised this event, Brian sang John Denver’s, Leaving on a Jet Plane. Later, it was hard to get her feet back on the ground to chat to people about her revamped exhibition on the 1960s but she had to manage it. With even more unique photographs, music reports and personal anecdotes from local band members, Janet was in great demand all day to answer questions and introduce people.
The Doveston Brothers were beyond popular and set the bar super high for the next band, fast becoming seasoned Keighley library stars – The Presidents, but as we know from last year’s event, they could not possibly disappoint. Their playing was fab with the expected nifty guitar work and Bruce’s acclaimed harmonica. Linda Russell’s voice soared into pop and ballad perfection to match Brian Eldee’s earlier performance. Both the bands added interest and humour between songs with conversation and funny anecdotes to further enrich the value of this fantastic first class, free entertainment.
Local children were not missed out in this poptastic extravaganza and Saturday Rhymetime became Jamba Samba with little ones, ears fully protected, enjoying Samba drumming with an expert in the art. “Happy” does not describe the expression on some of the children’s faces as they got to make an exceptional musical noise in one of the quieter places in the centre of Keighley. Complements about the event are still coming in.
It’s an underestimation to say that everyone had a great time on Saturday 9th June, many people have filled in the Visitors’ books to the effect that it was another event that brought back many happy memories and was a wonderful musical and social occasion for the local community, especially for many in the audience whose youthful years were represented in the music and the exhibition. I am sure Ian Dewhirst would agree, that this is local social history at its finest because it is momentarily giving real life to the books, photographs and archives in our keeping. As we have already found out, this in turn enhances their usage and local interest in the subject. It’s certainly something that Keighley Local Studies is very proud to deliver on.
Now, that’s not all folks because the locally acclaimed and revamped 60’s exhibition will run until September when a brand new display will be launched, assembled by hard working volunteer, Malcolm Hanson with Music of the 70s. A local historian, writer and former local band member of this decade himself, he has inside knowledge of the local music scene but is still collecting memorabilia from bands and fans. Malcolm can be contacted for this at the following:
Email: Malcolm.firstname.lastname@example.org or call Malcolm on 01756 798730
This exhibition will be accompanied with more live music, this time from the 1970s to celebrate Heritage Day on Saturday 15th September 2018.
The next Keighley Musical Heritage event in Keighley Local Studies Library is: “Small Town Saturday Night”, A talk by Trevor Simpson on Saturday 14th July 2.00 pm. Trevor Simpson is the author of two books telling the story of a love affair with the local music scene in a northern town. It is a story of rock ‘n’ roll at its peak in the 1950s and 1960s told with humour and shared memories. The talk will be accompanied with photographs and memorabilia from those decades. Don’t miss it!
Gina Birdsall, Keighley Local Studies