Santa came early to Keighley Library bringing the precious gift of Live Music on Friday night, 2nd December. A growing atmosphere of happy anticipation and pure joy filled the room as first John Drury and then the Haleys took to the library floor to thunderous applause – and we are not joking here or being Charles Dickensy just for the season. The gigs at Keighley Library, that pay for themselves incidentally, have become so popular locally that tickets sell out literally within hours. Glastonbury eat your heart out!
It is a truth universally recognised that listening to music improves mood and promotes feelings of wellbeing. Music shared combats loneliness and creates a sense of community spirit. In the words of the legendary John Denver, “no matter what language we speak, what colour we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: we are the same.”
This month’s gig was no exception as regular library borrowers, friends, family, fans and first time library visitors queued for a big slice of communal wellbeing and musical magic. A performance of this scale and calibre to be held, for the very first time in the evening, added to the Christmassy getaway feel that, for some local people this year, could well be limited to this library experience and the books borrowed to escape into over the holiday.
John Drury is a singer songwriter from a London-Irish background who now hails from Oxenhope. His songs have been described as ‘poetry with music on top’. He writes about the little as well as the big things in life, and believes deeply that ‘we are all in this together’. Friday night though was all about the cover versions with a couple of his own compositions thrown in for good measure. He proved to be the ideal ‘support’ act and from the off had the audience in the palm of his hand, clapping and singing along, troubles of the outside world forgotten for the time being!
What to say about the Haley Sisters? The sisters were born and raised in the village of Harden near Bingley and from a very early age they followed in their parents’ footsteps. The siblings have appeared alongside many respected artists since launching their professional career back in 1989, Freddy Fender, George Hamilton 1V, Raul Malo, Nathan Carter and Daniel O’Donnell. On 28th May 2017, they performed to a sell-out audience at the London Palladium and in April 2018 they were the opening act for the first of its kind, the Roy Orbison ‘In Dreams Hologram Arena tour’.
Becky and Jo-Ann are now award winning vocalists who could easily sell out the Grand Ole Opry in good old Nashville, Tennessee. Think a female version of the Everly Brothers with a magical natural blend of vocal harmonies with Becky on rhythm guitar and Jo-Ann on bass. The third member of the group is Becky’s husband, songwriter and steel guitarist, Brian ’Smithy’ Smith. Brian has worked on many recording sessions in Nashville including Crystal Gayle’s ‘Three Good Reasons’ album.
Proving that music really is in the genes, we were also treated to a song or two from 80-year-old Pa, Tony Haley, who taught us how to yodel with a rousing version of the Frank Ifield classic which earned him a standing ovation led by our very own Town Council Mayor.
Our other guests included Trevor Simpson and his wife Denise. Trevor is a former FA Premier League and international football referee, the author of two bestselling music books ‘Small Town, Saturday Night’ and a walking encyclopaedia on anything to do with Elvis.
Regular library customers still discuss gigs of years’ past and this will no doubt be one of them in the future. We will now let the music do the talking, see for yourself below and rock on 2023!
Keighley Local Studies Library.