A band discovered at a Scottish book festival is set to release an album produced by the legendary musician Pete Townshend.

The Bookshop Band, from Wigtown, is set to release a brand-new album produced and recorded by The Who guitarist after he was ‘blown away’ by their material.

Townshend decided he wanted to work with the band after being gifted a collection of their CDs and liked it so much that he got in touch with them.

Consisting of Ben Please and Beth Porter, The Bookshop band writes and performs songs inspired by books, and hundreds of authors from Shakespeare to Philip Pullman, and has released 13 studio albums featuring many of the authors they have worked with.

Townshend, who is also a former bookshop owner, not only produced the album and recorded it at his own studio but he also played on every track of the album titled Emerge, Return.

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.”

The Bookshop Band and Pete Townshend’s collaboration has resulted in their 14th album, and is due out this summer.

It is described as a dark album consisting of 13 songs, all written by Ben and Beth, and touches on themes including free will and free speech.

The themes are inspired by, and explored in, books such as The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Book Of Dust by Philip Pullman. 


(Image: Martin Tompkins)

It has already attracted praise with broadcaster Shaun Keaveny describing it as 'hypnotically beautiful' on BBC Radio 2’s The Folk Show and presenter Zoe Ball describing the band as 'amazing' on the Breakfast Show.

Ben Please said working with Pete brought an added level of experience and professionalism to the record, and also helped the duo reach new heights.

He 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, which has worked with many celebrated authors, plays gigs in small bookshops across the UK, USA and Europe. 

It is much admired among writers, with best-sellers such as the author of The Ghost Ship, Kate Mosse, specifically asking them to write songs for her launches.

The band 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

Released on 28 June, Emerge, Return will be the band’s first wider, commercial release. It will take place alongside a podcast series of conversations with the authors of some of the books that inspired the tracks. The Podcast episodes will be available between 15-22 June. It will be supported with a full, 71-date UK tour by Ben and Beth, mostly in independent bookshops - starting at Glastonbury Festival with a set at Toad Hall.

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

The Bookshop Band was formed in Beth and Ben’s former home city of Bath in 2010, as a collaboration between a group of musicians and local indie bookshop, 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.