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