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The Bookshop Band US Tour - Manhattan and Queens

Molly woke up at 5am. This was our big double bill day in New York and it had started a little early. Ben and Molly went down for breakfast while Beth caught up on a couple of hours having been feeding much of the night. Today we were meeting Beth’s old babysitter who had moved to New York in 2004. Jared is a systems and product designer, and Beth thought he might be a good person to take some photos of us in Manhattan before our show at the New York Public Library branch. We took a taxi (luxury) in with all our stuff, only to be turfed out a few blocks away from our destination (not so luxurious) due to two big marches blocking off traffic from that part of Manhattan. Luckily we’d ditched the dodgy suitcase from the night before in favour of the easy wheeler. The road closures meant we had some great photos though, standing in the middle of a deserted road outside Radio City.

Jared took us to Bill’s Bar and Burger where we had our first real all American burger. Jared was saying that the burger industry is very competitive now, so the standards are very high. Ours were very tasty, and Ben had a massive milkshake which was perhaps not a great idea just before the gig at 2pm.

We’d set up earlier so were quite relaxed - normally we’re still plugging in wires just before we start, but not today. We knew there would be a few familiar faces there, but didn’t quite know how many. When we got back to the library’s theatre the first person we met was Danielle who had flown in especially from Nashville Tennessee. Beth was the first person she’d met when she came over for one semester to Bath Spa University in 2001. She now has tea-time everyday at 3pm based on that first meeting and the cup of tea she had with Beth. Next up we met Kathy and Fred who were running The Open Book AirBnB bookshop for the week when we first moved to Wigtown in January 2017. They have their own bookshop in America and had gone to run the bookshop in Wigtown for their holiday. There was an illustrator called Sonja who we met in Oxfordshire, who had just arrived in the US to start a printing residency in Philadelphia (via NY) and her aunt. Maya - who is the daughter of one of our great friends in Wigtown, Margi (who would also be babysitting Molly later). Beth’s uncles first girlfriend, Barbara, a friend of Beth’s brother Dom, and finally another Wigtown resident Hope, literally flying down to the stairs to greet us. The theatre was full of friendly faces from all over and the concert was a joy. The librarian said that she might have to turn us down if it was too loud, it was a library after all, so we cranked it up anyway and luckily no one complained. I guess filling a library with book-inspired songs was OK. There was a guy who came up to Beth afterwards who said he was trying to work but we just “kept on singing”, so he’d decided to come and listen anyway. Speaking to Beth afterwards he said that he works with marital arts choreography and he thought that our music would suit an idea he had - that could be interesting.

After packing down we jumped in a taxi to BookCulture in Queens, and set up in their downstairs children’s room. There were cushions on the floor and a few chairs out and it felt like it’d be a relaxing low key gig. Tons of children came in, which was really lovely - so nice to have them there. We wished Molly could come to the shows too, but often she demands our attention when we need to be playing, hence us organising babysitters while we play. We had a few more friends and friends of friends show up. The brother of Clayton Blizzard, an awesome songwriter and performer we knew through Poppy Pitt came, and Oliver Wright, who played in his band Halcyon Glow at the first EyeFest festival I organised with my friends in Bath. It turned out to be a really full show, lots of children running around (we pulled out a song or two that we felt was too rude for little ears, or rather their parents).

About a third of the way into the gig Maya, who was looking after Molly that evening, turned up with Molly. We were so happy. Molly really enjoyed the gig, Maya took her round, playing with some of the toys and animals in the shop. It was so nice to have her there.

After the gig we hung out with Maya, had some food at The Paper Factory Hotel, and listened into people’s comments about the impending mega storm due to hit New York. Temperatures due to plummet, snow storms approaching, and wondering whether or not we’d make it to Durango the next day. We had leave the hotel at 4am, fly to 2 hours to Chicago, fly 3 hours to Albuquerque, jump in a car with Nick Bottomley from Mr Bs who’d flown out for the ABA conference, drive for 4 hours north, through the mountains to Maria’s Bookshop, and get there in time to play at 6.30pm. Everything had to run perfectly for it to work, and the storm approaches.

Fingers crossed. Toes crossed. Hope Molly sleeps.

HUGE THANK YOU to our sponsors All Media Supply and Gardners, who have made this tour possible through their support and passion for books and music.

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