The Bookshop Band will be joining us at The Open Book from 12-25 January. We got in touch with Ben to ask about their plans while they're here.
1. Tell us a bit about the Bookshop Band.
The Bookshop Band write songs inspired by books, and have been playing them in bookshops, literary festivals and libraries all over the UK and into Europe. The band began as a collaboration with Mr Bs Emporium of Reading Delights, in Bath (Independent Bookshop of the Year 2008 / 2011) as part of a plan to help Mr B’s rejuvenate its traditional ‘author evenings’. The band would read the forthcoming author’s book in advance and write two songs based upon it, to be performed at the start of the evening. Their performances are inextricably linked to the books themselves, as the members of the band take it in turns to describe where the inspiration for each song came from.
2. What's your connection with Wigtown / the book festival?
We were invited to come and perform at the 2014 Wigtown Book Festival, but knew we couldn't make it because Ben and Beth (in the band) were otherwise engaged around that time, getting married. So instead they decided to come via Wigtown on their summer Scottish tour, before the festival, and played a special concert in The Bookshop on Ben's birthday. Many plans were hatched for return journeys, projects and amazing walks that the band never had time to do whilst here.
3. What attracted you to the Open Book residency?
We have never run a bookshop before, yet we spend so much time visiting and playing in them, so the idea of The Open Book residency was something that immediately attracted us, as it relates directly to what we do as a band. We knew we wanted any excuse to come back to Wigtown as we really fell in love with the people and the place when we were here last, however we needed to find a way of best using the opportunity of running a small bookshop. We needed to find a way of using the space that would be productive for us, whilst also allowing the bookshop to be open.
4. What are your plans for your time in Wigtown?
The main creative endeavour we'll be undertaking is to use the space to mix a whole collection of songs inspired by books that we recorded last year in Peter Gabriel's Realworld Studios, but have never had a chance to mix, ready to go on an album. Ben will set up a mixing station, and customers are very welcome to come and have a listen whilst he is working. Then every evening, half an hour before closing time, Ben and Beth will host a listening session, where Ben will play back the fruits of the day's mixing, to anyone that would like to come and listen. It'll give him the deadlines he needs, knowing that people might turn up to listen to what he has done during the day, whilst also being a more formal chance for people to have a listen to what is being created, rather than the snippets they might hear during the day.
5. What can the audience expect from a Bookshop Band gig?
No particular style of music, but just a whole collection of songs inspired by a whole series of very eclectic books, each with their own stories.
6. We hear there will be a birthday celebration while you're staying in Wigtown. Any special plans?
Yes, it's Beth's birthday on the 20th January, which is a double coincidence as Ben (her husband) celebrated his last birthday there whilst on their Scottish tour. If that was anything to go by, there will be some fairly lively singing sessions greased by the local brew with the possibility of 4am cartwheels down the high street. Quietly of course.
Find out more about the Bookshop Band here.