The Bookshop Band release a new album, ‘Live in American Bookshops’, on Letterpress Records.

The folk duo – Beth Porter and Ben Please – hail from from Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town, and is best known for its songs inspired by books of all kinds.

The new album – available as a limited edition vinyl LP as well as download – consists of tracks recorded during their 2019 debut US tour, taking in bookshops and libraries in New Jersey, New York, Colorado and New Mexico, playing songs inspired by contemporary writing and classics from the UK and North America.

Among the tracks is ‘Once Upon A Time’ which is built around the first lines of books, including “High, high above the North Pole,” “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and “It was the day my grandmother exploded”.

Other songs include ‘You Make The Best Plans, Thomas’, inspired by Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies and recorded at Boulder Books (Boulder, Colorado) and ‘How Not To Woo A Woman’, inspired by Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry recorded at OpCit Books (Taos, New Mexico).

The tour came about after The New York Times (which describes them as “achingly good”) laid down a challenge in 2018 in an article that said: “If America’s independent booksellers can’t figure a way to get The Bookshop Band to tour America, they’re doing something wrong”.

The American Booksellers’ Association got in touch and the band then played 24 venues in 21 days across four states.

Ben Please said of the tour: “Each bookshop gives a completely different ambience to the recordings, both in the spaces but also in the bustle and interaction of the audiences who were often jam-packed to within inches of being impaled by Beth’s cello bow when she hit the big notes.

“This album helps us cherish the memory, feeling and sounds of a time when we could play live surrounded by an audience, so that we don’t take it for granted when we are again able to do so.

“We really wanted to capture this shared experience as well as the music and celebrate the culturally important and dynamic, living spaces that bookshops are.”

Please and Porter have been writing songs inspired by books since 2010 when the band began as a collaboration with multi-award winning independent bookshop, Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, in Bath.

They have since worked with hundreds of authors, released 13 studio albums, and toured bookshops, libraries and festivals all over the UK and Ireland, Europe, and now North America.

The album contains 10 tracks, but with the vinyl version including a bonus download including songs inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, and Shakespeare’s Richard II.

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