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EMERGE RETURN Tour Diary #1: Singles, Shauns and Smoke Machines

Shaun Bythell from The Bookshop in Wigtown say's it's always good to keep a diary, so, here we go. It's been a real journey so far, but we're about to embark on the most ambitious, hardest, most precarious, highest profile tour we've ever done, so we thought it'd be interesting to bring you along for the ride, week by week, the ups and the downs. Who knows what paths the story will lead us down, but at least we'll have some lovely company.


We're now only four weeks away from launching our new album. It's been years in the making but, like an owl in the night, it has still swooped upon us. You may have noticed the extra defined biceps of delivery folks, as they have all been working overtime lugging boxes of vinyl, CDs, tea towels and alike to our front door, all neatly stacked ready for the final assembly, stuffing, numbering, snickered up and signed next week. We've been chuffed to get lots of pre-orders. Beth and I will sign all the vinyl pre-orders we get (unless you tell us not to! ;)

After many months juggling hundreds of simultaneous conversations, the tour is ready too. Most of the listings are live and tickets are available. We'll be travelling south for the whole summer, and then a little Scotland later in the year (and hopefully a bigger Scottish and Irish in Spring next year). We did consider leaving the toddlers at home for two months to fend for themselves, but in the end we've decided to bring them with us, and are lucky that a local friend's daughter, Edana, has agreed to come with us and entertain them while we perform each night. Turns out once you have a kid at school, your time for touring gets condensed into the school holidays. We haven't told Molly yet that she will be spending every day of the summer on tour. Ignorance is bliss, and how could we argue.

There had been a number of hurdles to overcome in order to get us all on the road, not least when our old dilapidated red van spectacularly failed its MOT a few months ago. Rather now than in a month's time. To over come this, and the costs of touring with children, we'd applied to 8 creative arts funds to support this tour, but didn't get a single one. Thankfully instead we've had a wonderful and generous response to our call out for people to join our Patreon page, and have even had a few sponsors come on board to help subsidise some of the tour costs. Huge thank you to everyone that signed up so far, and to sponsors Batch, Edward and Anna Hocknell, Adrian and Susanne Laws, Peter Please, Tricia O'Malley & Olly Woodford. We've also had support in kind from where we have set up our own online bookshop, and National Book Tokens, who will be running a competition - more on that another week. Mainly do to our tardiness inifinishing the book-edition - if you sign up to a paid tier on our Patreon page before the 28th June, we've extended the "Get your name as a subscriber in the book-edition of the album" offer.

As a starter for ten, here's the first bunch of shows, just before the album comes out, and you can scan the whole list of concerts here. (If you spot a gig over July or August near you, and would be up for putting some of us up for the night, do let us know.)


8 JUNE  -  CROSSING THE TEES LIT FEST, Darlington, County Durham

9 JUNE  -  WORDS BY THE WATER, Keswick, Lake District

15 JUNE  - SPOT ON FESTIVAL, Blackpool

21 JUNE  -  RHEGED - Penrith, Cumbria - with Jackie Morris


The big news of the last week is that the first single from the new album came out. Sanctuary, one of two songs inspired by Philip Pullman's The Book Of Dust. Off the back of that we had our first big radio feature, with 20mins on The Folk Show BBC Radio 2 with Shaun Keaveny, broadcasting from The Bookshop, in Wigtown, resulting in a couple of great quotes to stick on the front cover of the album, including one from Zoe Ball too!

We've taken a big leap into streaming this week. You may have noticed we've not really been represented on the ether, but as of today you can now find our entire back catalogue on streaming services. We still think there is huge value in vinyl and CD, and we definitely put everything in to making the most beautiful physical editions we can, but this will allow a wider audience to find us. We've even made a playlist that bookshops can play in bookshops to help sell books.

This week, on Wednesday, we're releasing the second single from the new album, EVE IN YOUR GARDEN, inspired by Margaret Atwood's The Testaments. Beth and I filled our garden with a disco smoke machine yesterday and Beth dressed up in a red PVC coat for the occasion. We'll release the video once I've finished editing it.

We haven't been doing many online shows, ever since the infamous Molly-showing-her-bottom episode, but we're going to re-establish the habit on Thursday the 6th June at 7pm, with an online show, hopefully live from The Open Book, in Wigtown. Do tune in and spread the word. It will broadcast on YouTube and Facebook. Oh, and it's pretty much my birthday, so hope can join me virtually for a drink ;) (OK, so it's an old photo of us, but it is in The Open Book, so...).

Thanks for reading, it's good to do this with other people on board and we appreciate all the kind words and thoughts. Next week, new adventure.


Ben & Beth

The Bookshop Band


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