The Bookshop Band 06 by Elly Lucas Med Res

The Bookshop Band in Midlands After Launch of Dark Album Created with Pete Townshend

  • Rock legend’s discovery of duo’s music results in Emerge, Returnrelease
  • Album and band praised by Radio 2’s Zoe Ball and Shaun Keaveny
  • Catch Ben and Beth at one of seven intimate gigs across the Midlands

Rock legend Pete Townshend was so “blown away” when he discovered The Bookshop Band that he offered to produce their next album. The result, Emerge, Return, is released June.

Audiences in the Midlands can hear the band – Ben Please and Beth Porter – play the album live at seven intimate gigs at bookshops.

Townshend was gifted a set of Ben Please and Beth Porter’s CDs and admired the quality of the music and – as a former bookshop owner himself – that their work is inspired by literature.

He said: “I listened to the CDs in my car as I was travelling. I was blown away, completely blown away. I got into the whole Bookshop Band technique, which is just two people making this sound like a symphony orchestra. It’s quite extraordinary. Each song was special in its own way. So, I reached out.”

Townshend threw himself into the project wholeheartedly, not only producing the album and recording it at his own studio but playing on every track.

Even before its launch the album is winning praise with Shaun Keaveny calling it “hypnotically beautiful” on Radio 2’s The Folk Show and Zoe Ball describing the band as “amazing!” on the Breakfast Show.

Emerge, Return is a dark album of 13 songs, all written by Ben and Beth, responding to themes including the oppression of bodies, free will and free speech that are explored in books such as:

  • The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • and The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman.

The title comes from a song inspired by Robert Macfarlane’s Underland, which glimpses our underworlds and morality in the scale of deep time.

Ben said: “It’s been a rollercoaster working with Pete Townshend, really exciting and not something we could ever have predicted happening. 

“He brought his great musicality and experience to the recording process, doing things we’d never have thought of ourselves, offering a different perspective on the songs. That’s the value of working with a great producer. 

“And the fact that he ended up playing on every track added an extra dimension – I think that fans will hear his influence woven right the way through the album.”

The band is much admired among writers, with best-sellers such as Kate Mosse (The Ghost Ship) specifically asking them to write songs for the book launches.

It has existed largely off-grid, occupying a creative space between the music and book worlds. Their approach is to read books, respond by writing a song, then bring the work to new audiences by performing in (mostly independent) bookshops.

Beth said: “Ben and I are excited to be touring this album. Playing these songs live and getting to share stories is what this band is all about.”

They have previously recorded 13 albums, which have been sold at gigs and online. Emerge, Return will be their first wider, commercial release.

The release will take place alongside a podcast series of conversations with the authors of some of the books which inspired its tracks (15-22 June). It will be supported with a full, 70-date UK tour by Ben and Beth.

The Bookshop Band was formed in Beth and Ben’s former home city of Bath as a collaboration between a group of musicians and Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights. The duo now live in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town, where they are important contributors to the well-known annual book festival.

The band was Ivor Novello nominated for the music they created for Aardman Animation’s Oscar and BAFTA nominated musical, Robin Robin.

The Bookshop Band tour dates 

The Bookshop Band tour dates 

  • 2 July: Malvern Book Coop, Malvern, Worcestershire
  • 9 July: Press Books, Hednesford, Staffordshire
  • 16 July: Kibworth Books, Kibworth, Leicestershire
  • 17 July: Mostly Books, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • 20 July: Astley Book Farm, Bedworth, Warwickshire
  • 25 October: Thimblemill Library, Birmingham
  • 14 November: Treehouse Books, Kenilworth, Warwickshire.