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The Bookshop Band US tour - Sante Fe, New Mexico

So, this was a big day. Picking up an enormous SUV in Albuquerque airport, an automatic and then driving on the wrong side of the road, ironically on the “right” side, as our taxi driver said. We’d said goodbye to Nic Bottomley from Mr B’s Emporium fo Reading Delights and the British contingent at the conference over doughnuts and coffee, and I’d left Beth and Molly by the side of the road while I went in to pick up the massive Buick. The AVIS guy gave me a slip of paper and I wandered to the lot to find the car. It was ginormous. I clambered in and found the key. About 15 minutes later I wandered back to the AVIS desk after failing to start the car. A few more instructions later I finally cracked the ignition procedure, put my foot on what I believed to be the accelerator, and very jerkily inched my way out of the lot and towards the exit. I swear, they make the exit gate soooooo narrow so that you scratch the car in the first two minutes. The lady came out, looked at the crooked approach I’d taken to the narrow exit, went back in again. Came out, went back in, and finally came back and said, “Hey honey, would you like me to take you round the parking lot a few times so you can get the hang of the car?”. We both thought that was a great idea.

20 minutes later we finally approached Beth and Molly who were still playing by the road with all our stuff overspilling around them. Suzanne from AVIS got out, gave us both a hug and wished us well on the journey. I don’t know what I would have done without her. Feeling much more confident we headed out on the interstate up to Sante Fe.

Sante Fe is a beautiful old town in New Mexico, about 75 mins drive from Albuquerque. High up in the mountains it’s architecturally all adobe houses, or that style. As with all these towns in New Mexico, the mountains are never far away, hanging over the town. A good friend of my mums, Hugh Eliot, has lived in Sante Fe for many years and he was meeting us on arrival for an afternoon tour of the town. The place we had really wanted to experience - Meow Wolf - the interactive theatrical installation by JRR Martin - of Game of Thrones fame - was closed for a re-fit, so instead Hugh took us round in his beautifully beaten up manual car (“it never breaks”) to all his favourite drinking haunts. Tea on Canyon Road - a long street of high end art galleries, Manhattan’s at dusk and finally excellent Tapas at La Bona. Rather cautiously we staggered home to the Sage Inn Motel. (whoop whoop - we stayed in a motel - USA tick!).

The next morning we wandered into the plaza, the old hub of the town. Down one side are all the local artisans who all make jewellery - mainly from silver and blue turquoise stone. It’s pretty daunting walking up and down, so many sellers, so many beautiful things with no prices, but actually it’s all pretty gentle and reasonable prices. Beth bought a lovely silver bracelet with a feather and turquoise inlay. I really wanted to find some rough turquoise so I could make some, but never did.

We had two concerts this day - the first in OpCit Books, located in a huge shopping mall just outside the town (Shopping Mall - USA tick). It was actually a beautifully ramshackle store, incongruous within the neat and tidy mall. Huge long shelves running back into the shop, piles piles piles of unsorted second hand stock towering up into the rafters. Definitely the kind of place you could get lost in and make discoveries.

Molly wasn’t playing ball. We’d tried to put her down just before we started, but she woke when we laid her down on the stone floor. Not sure why. Phil, one of the bookstore peeps was amazing, and sat with Molly at the back, and they read and sang through the concert. Molly even sang along to Thirteen Chairs, which I don’t think she had done before. Rachael, the photographer from Title Wave Books made the trip up to Sante Fe as well, where she had grown up, as she had kindly offered to take a few more photos in Sante Fe. We weren’t expecting a big crowd in the mall out of town, but it was full and beaming and responsive. I think they got four books, in the ‘Can-you-spot-which-books-these-first-lines-come-from” game, which is pretty good. Above average. It was a great place to play in, and despite the stress of setting up and Molly management, it was a joy to play in.

Next up we headed to Collected Works, right in the old centre of Sante Fe. This is the longest running famous haunt of a bookshop. We were playing on a stage in the cafe area. Cecile the events manager cleared the tables and laid out theatre seating, and Melanie, another old friend of mums, lent us a keyboard amp to add into their mono PA system, designed for speakers not for bands. The place rammed full, there must have been about 100 people crammed into the space. It was really exciting. My mum had a few friends in Sante Fe from when she travelled through a few years previously, and I think they had all pulled out the stops to bring people. American audiences are great - so responsive, chuckling away (mostly at the funny bits), whooping and cheering. We played songs inspired by The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell, Glow by Ned Beauman and songs inspired by Philip Pullman’s The Book Of Dust.

We had a slight issue that one of our ukuleles, the “foxes” uke, or “cackling” uke, depending on which song we’re playing had bust. Possibly a Molly injury. Cracked and getting worse, the top plate about to fall off. Luckily there was an expert guitar luthier in the audience - Keith Vizcarra, again, someone who had met mum when she travelled through, who offered as we were packing down to quickly repair it, with tape and fish glue. As we grabbed some food before our drive to Taos that night, he raced back and presented the most beautifully taped and strapped up uke ever. I think we’re going to leave the tape on.

Next stop Taos.


Huge thank you to our tour sponsor' s Gardners and All Media Supply AMS

Still time to pre-order your Live In American Bookshops vinyl album here:

Tonight we're in Boulder Books - - 7.30pm / 1st Feb 2019

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