The Heath Bookshop Literature and Music Festival

The Heath Bookshop Literature and Music Festival

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Posted 2024-03-05 by dpmfollow

Thu 18 Apr 2024 - Sun 21 Apr 2024


When Catherine Gale and Claire Dawes opened The Heath Bookshop in September 2022 they wanted to ensure the store would be an essential part of the Kings Heath community and would bring writers and musicians to the city.

Since then, the women have organised around 70 events and this spring they launch The Heath Bookshop Literature and Music Festival featuring writers including Michel Faber, Robin Ince, Daniel Rachel and Casey Bailey and musicians such as Pauline Black and Richard Norris.



Taking place between April 18-21, the festival includes author and musician talks, book signings, discussion panels, creative writing workshops, children’s activities, performance poetry, an open mic session, live music and DJ sets – and lots more.

Catherine says: “The festival came about through our combined love of literature and music and with our shop being so close to so many great venues. We wanted to create something which brought literature and music together. So, for example, we have musicians talking about their lives and the books they have written and we have writers talking about music.

And she adds: “Then we have music in the bookshop and literature events in a music venue so we’re bringing audiences something they might not have seen before. There’s a crossover between the two mediums so that they are really integrated.”

The community-based festival has been a natural progression for the bookstore, which has already held talks and music across different venues including schools and pubs. “Growing our events has been quite organic,” says Claire. “Our opening weekend was full of literary events and we’ve just kept going so we’ve done 70 so far and we’re now being approached by bigger names which is lovely as Birmingham hasn’t had that for a while. And so the festival felt like the obvious next step.”

One of the key events of the festival is Black Sound, Song and Soma - Deeping It: A Live Experience which takes place at the Hare and Hounds on April 20.

“Adèle Oliver is a local author and her book Deeping It is about the use of UK drill in criminal cases when it’s not directly related but it has been used as evidence,” explains Catherine. “I read the book and thought it was brilliant. I met Adèle and we said we would love to do something for the festival around the book and she developed the idea of doing it as a show. It’s going to include music, visual images, capoeira, dancers and drummers, live music plus DJs so it’s very immersive. Adèle is working with Casey Bailey and Ryan Dre Sinclair who will be writing spoken word pieces around the themes. We’ve commissioned the event as a brand new piece of work and we’re very excited about it.”

The intersection of music and literature is at the heart of the festival so partnering with neighbouring pub and music venue the Hare and Hounds was an obvious choice. %“We’ve held literature events at the Hare and Hounds before,” explains Catherine. “When we discussed the aim of the festival, Adam Regan and Matt Beck at the pub suggested General Levy. That works perfectly as he’s going to talk about his autobiography and then go on to play a set.”

She continues: “Working with the Hare and Hounds to programme music and literature has really worked out well. So we have Lias Saoudi from the band Fat White Family, whose book Ten Thousand Apologies Adam really enjoyed. David Holmes, who wrote A Brush with the Music of Time, is DJing and music producer Richard Norris will be talking about his autobiography Strange Things are Happening.”

The festival also features local fiction writers who will be discussing their love for music. “People like Mike Gayle and Catherine O’Flynn have spoken at the shop before but what’s great with this festival is that both really have a lot of connections to music so they will be discussing not just literature but also music which will be a really interesting take from them,” Catherine says.



Children’s activities organised by Jenny Moore at Kings Heath children’s bookshop How Brave is the Wren include story times with writers Nathanael Lessore and Stewart Foster. There will also be a series of children’s activity workshops and a children’s parade in York Road.

Catherine and Claire have received National Lottery Funding through Arts Council England for the festival and were keen for it to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. The team also set out to ensure the festival was as affordable as possible, with many of the events low-cost and most of the children’s events free. “The children’s programme with How Brave is the Wren is really important,” says Catherine. “I think it’s about instilling the idea that reading is fun and books and authors are accessible. The different workshops mean you can be included and be part of this world of literature or music or design.”

And she says the festival will feature something for everyone. “Just come along and you might discover something that you didn’t know about or hear something surprising. We’ve had a lot of authors come and talk at events and say something which is really inspiring or you end up reading a book that you didn’t think you’d like. If you’re interested in music and books, this festival is the place for you.”

The Heath Bookshop Literature and Music Festival take place on April 18-21, for the full programme, including BSL signed events, and ticket information see here.

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279832 - 2024-03-05 16:50:42

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