Folks typically visit Maria’s Bookshop to retreat into the stacks and escape reality, even if just for a little while. But for a few hours next Sunday night, Jan. 20, they can flock to the downtown independent bookstore for a different reason: live music.
From 6 – 8 p.m., Maria’s will host Scotland’s acclaimed Bookstore Band. And don’t let the name fool you – this folk duo is anything but pleasant background noise while you peruse dust jackets.
Made up of partners Ben Please and Beth Porter, the couple has made a splash across the pond with their book-related original music. And it’s no wonder: they hail from the town of Wigton, aka Scotland’s “National Book Town,” known for its annual 10-day book festival.
Since forming in 2010, they have collaborated and performed with celebrated authors such as Ben Fountain (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City) and Man Booker-winners Yann Martel (Life of Pi) and Ben Okri (The Famished Road).
In addition, the Bookshop Band has received commissions from the BBC and Pompidou Centre in Paris. They are regularly featured on the BBC’s “Radio 6 Music” hosted by songwriter and broadcaster Tom Robinson, and have been championed by the BBC’s Bob Harris. The New York Times called their music “achingly good.”
The Maria’s stop is part of the band’s three-week, 15-stop tour of bookshops and libraries across the United States. The tour was organized by the American Booksellers’ Association after Times literary critic Dwight Garner issued a challenge. “If America’s independent booksellers can’t figure a way to get these two ... to tour America, they’re doing something wrong.”
The two got their start near the English city of Bath at their local indie bookshop, Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights. Since then, the band has played intimate gigs in more than 200 bookshops around the U.K., Ireland and France. “It creates such a great atmosphere to be singing about books, surrounded by them on the shelves,” Please said.
Audiences can expect to hear the musicians’ take on all things literary, from Alice in Wonderland to Shakespeare and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. And, of course, there will be some American authors thrown in as well.
“The USA has always been a powerhouse of great literature,” Porter said. “It’s hugely exciting to perform songs inspired by books and authors we love in some of America’s best bookstores.”
For those who don’t know (shame on you) Maria’s is at 960 Main Ave. Admission is free, and you know what they say: if it’s not Scottish, it’s ... nevermind, just show up and find out.