Gal­loway duo Ben and Beth set for Amer­i­can tour with Book­shop Band

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - 30 -

SHARON LIP­TROTT

A folk band from the re­gion with a reper­toire of songs in­spired by lit­er­a­ture is to tour some of the finest book­stores and li­braries across the USA .

The Book­shop Band duo Ben Please and Beth Porter per­form across the UK and Europe – and have fre­quently ap­peared on stage with the fa­mous writ­ers whose work they sing about.

Now they are get­ting to tour Amer­ica af­ter lit­er­ary critic Dwight Gar­ner is­sued a chal­lenge in The New York Times.

He wrote: “The Book­shop Band is not just good but achingly good … If Amer­ica’s in­de­pen­dent book­sell­ers can’t fig­ure a way to get these two to tour Amer­ica, they’re do­ing some­thing wrong.” And the Amer­i­can Book­sell­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion have re­sponded in style by invit­ing the band to per­form for its mem­bers at its Win­ter In­sti­tute this month in Al­bu­querque.

They will also play at 15 in­de­pen­dent book­shops and two pub­lic li­braries in New York, New Jersey, New Mex­ico and Colorado.

Among the high­lights will be ap­pear­ances at the New York Pub­lic Li­brary and the Tat­tered Cover book store in Den­ver.

Based in Wig­town, Scot­land’s Na­tional Book Town, the pair have col­lab­o­rated with cel­e­brated au­thors such as Ben Foun­tain (Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk – which be­came a ma­jor fea­ture film), Ar­mis­tead Maupin (Tales of the City).

Some even fea­ture as mu­si­cians on the band’s 13 al­bums, like Man Booker win­ners Yann Mar­tel (Life of Pi) and Ben Okri (The Famished Road), and best-sell­ing au­thors Joanne Har­ris (Cho­co­lat) and Louis de Bernières (Cap­tain Corelli’s Man­dolin).

Beth said: “The USA has al­ways been a pow­er­house of great lit­er­a­ture.

“It’s hugely ex­cit­ing to come across from Scot­land and per­form songs in­spired by books and au­thors we love in some of Amer­ica’s best book­stores.”

The award-winning folk singers have highly dis­tinc­tive voices and ap­pear with a va­ri­ety of their favourite books and a va­ri­ety of instruments from cello and har­mo­nium to glock­en­spiel, gui­tars and ukule­les.

Ben said: “We love per­form­ing in­ti­mate gigs in un­ex­pected lo­ca­tions, like book­shops and li­braries.

“It cre­ates such a great at­mos­phere to be singing about books, sur­rounded by them on the shelves.”

Au­di­ences can ex­pect to hear songs about ev­ery­thing from The Ad­ven­tures of Alice in Won­der­land by Lewis Car­roll and Shake­speare’s Richard II to Al­dous Hux­ley’s Brave New Worl­dand Hi­lary Man­tel’s Bring Up The Bod­ies.

There’s also a good chance that they will per­form one of the songs they were com­mis­sioned to write for the launch of Philip Pull­man’s work The Book of Dust: La Belle Sau­vage.

The Book­shop Band Ben Please and Beth Porter are go­ing on a tour of the USA

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