Speak, Brother

Here is the latest video from one of the Big Comfy Sessions.  I’ve already shared Speak, Brother’s wonderful version of their own song Dry Bones (follow that link for more of the sessions too); this is the cover version they did the same day (all performers are asked to sing one of their own songs and one cover version).  This is Peter Katz’s Son.  Beautiful.



The Big Comfy Bookshop will open at Fargo Village in Coventry on 27th September – in the meantime, we are loving having the Big Comfy Sessions at the Tree House!

If you feel like singing a song…

Tree House statement design v2Some of you already know this, via Facebook and/or Twitter, but in the light of much moral support and the green light from the landlord, I have decided to keep the Tree House open.  It’s not going to be easy – for me personally or financially – but it seems the right thing to do, and sometimes I find myself capable of doing the right thing!  Not always…but I do think this is the right thing.  I could spend weeks weighing up the pros and cons and not achieve a rational answer, but I’ve always been someone who goes with their heart, and while it often gets me into trouble, it is simply who I am, and I’m slowly – painfully slowly – learning to accept that.  Others may have a harder time accepting it, and I fully understand that!

We have a great little space in the heart of Kenilworth, and now that the decision has been made, I am thinking hard about how to make the most of the Tree House as a venue – more on all of that later.  I need to be bold, I think.  One of the things that decided me that the Tree House needed to continue was the Big Comfy Sessions that have been filmed there (a few more in the pipeline too).  These are a temporary feature, until Michael McEntee opens his Big Comfy Bookshop at Fargo Village in Coventry at the end of September (very exciting!), and the Tree House has just been the venue for the recordings, but they have shown me the potential for cool and groovy things that the Tree House has.  We need more cool things happening!  Musical or otherwise.

I will also resurrect the Film Club, which has languished since my right hand man in that venture left in January.  There is still a huge void there, as I am a bit rubbish when it comes to films, and I miss the input of a knowledgeable, passionate, energetic person (who also had a great collection of films to share with us!) – but I have a longish and pretty varied list of films I plan to show (from Mary Poppins to Les Amants du Pont-Neuf with all sorts in between).  We can’t afford to renew the licence yet though, so that’s the next target!

I also have offers of help with poetry nights and open mic music nights, and am working on getting some more musicians to come and perform.  But I also want to shift the balance a bit, and start some more literary things.  The focus of the bookshop needs to be bookish – it was set up to counter the anti-intellectualism I see in society, and I want to find creative ways to do that.

We are also increasing our commitment to charity.  We are non-profit, but we haven’t made any profit yet, so have not been doing much in terms of giving to charity!  But we had a coffee morning for Helen Ley Care Centre earlier this month, and have carried on with a collecting tin – the day of the coffee morning raised £120, and if we can keep doing little things throughout the month, we can at least give this sort of amount monthly to charity.  In July we will be supporting Zoe’s Place baby hospice in Coventry, and in August it will be the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance – again, more in later posts.

More significantly, I want to ally the bookshop to the Woodland Trust.  There is lots to say about this, but in the longer term, that’s the charity I want the bookshop to support.  I shall wax passionate at another time, but its aims are intrinsic to the ethos of the Tree House (there is the word Tree in the name for a reason!).

I am rambling, so will shut up.  So much to think about and plan, not least how I am personally going to survive financially and emotionally!  But the Tree House really has already become a lovely social hub, a community of caring, friendly, committed people, who want to help the place to thrive.  I really think it can thrive, and with their help, I am sure it will.

A friend gave me this song about a year ago as the bookshop’s signature song, and it still encourages me to keep going forward during the dark times.  Thank you Ben.


Big Comfy Cover – Chains sing Carole King

Gill Sans poster (2)Perfect for a Sunday morning…

I recently posted about Chains‘ visit to the Tree House to record a video for the Big Comfy Sessions.  Musicians always perform one of their own songs and one cover – I’ve already posted their own song; their cover was Carole King’s glorious Will You Love Me Tomorrow?, co-written with Gerry Goffin who died this week, and did a very fine job.  They also found a great use for our generally unwanted copies of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Big Comfy Sessions are organised by the Big Comfy Bookshop, soon to be opening at the new Fargo Village development in Coventry and using our shop as a venue in the meantime.  If you want to support the Big Comfy Bookshop (and why wouldn’t you?), Michael, its owner, currently has a crowdfunding project on the go – visit the site for more details.

In the meantime, here are Chains.  Just beautiful.  And funny.  Enjoy.

Chains, ‘All Up To Me’ and groovy Saturdays

Gill Sans poster (2)Last Saturday, the fabulous Chains came and recorded a music video at the Tree House.  You may remember that Wes Finch came…then Speak, Brother came…and last weekend it was Chains’ turn to get the Big Comfy Sessions treatment.  They were fabulous, recording their own song All Up To Me and a beautiful cover of Carole King’s magical Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.  Chains, aka Kate and Ben, are also very lovely people, which made it all the more wondrous.

The Big Comfy Bookshop will be opening in September at the new Fargo Village development in Coventry, and until then its owner Michael is using our shop as the venue for his Big Comfy Sessions.  They are filmed by Rob of  Redwood Photography under the aegis of Richard Harrison – it’s all very groovy, and I’ll miss it when the venture moves to its own premises!

Michael McEntee, owner of the Big Comfy Bookshop, has set up a crowdfunding project to help get his new premises off the ground, so do make a pledge if you’d like to support another community bookshop a bit like ours.  It’s great to have a new brother on the way!

But in the meantime, here are Chains – and for good measure, the previous two videos as well, as you can’t have too much grooviness on a Saturday, and they are all *amazing*.  How much fun can you have in a bookshop?  Loads, clearly.

A magazine article by me, and some lovely bookish things in Warwickshire

Several posts ago I mentioned Here Comes Everyone, a newish magazine published by Silhouette Press to provide a forum for writers and other creative types to publish their work and network online with other writers and creative types.  It’s available online, but also in hard copy – we are going to sell copies in the shop.  It’s a local venture (local to Warwickshire), and well worth supporting.

And I’m not just saying this because I have an article in the current issue, Prophecy, just out!  I dashed this one off a bit – an article on the continuing value of books – but was delighted to be asked to contribute, and hope to contribute to future issues too.  I will be on the ball a bit earlier next time, and write something a bit more polished.  But if you want to read about why I think books will always be important, the article starts on p.22 of the latest issue.

Here Comes Everyone are also having an evening of poetry and live music at Taylor John’s House in Coventry on 29 June – more details here.  £3 for a night out with live entertainment, can’t be bad!

I would also like to mention another local second-hand bookshop that is a bit like The Tree House, based in Nuneaton.  Big Comfy Bookshop currently trades online and can frequently be found on a stall at local fairs and markets, and is also looking for shop premises.  Michael, who runs it, has now set up an online book group via Facebook, though you can see details too on his blog and you can look at the Facebook page even if you aren’t on Facebook. I mentioned the idea of starting an online book group a while back, but am much happier joining his while I have so much else to do!  So if you fancy joining a book group and chatting online once a month about the book, and are on Facebook, do join his.   We are just starting the second book, which is Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

So happy reading!