Seattle’s Bushwick Book Club turns your favorite books into songs

Ever wished you could dive deeper into your favorite book? Sure, there’s fanfiction and plenty of fan art. But what about a whole concert dedicated to it?

Say hello to The Bushwick Book Club — an event series that gathers groups of musicians to write and perform songs inspired by all kinds of literature.

The event is named after Brooklyn, New York’s Bushwick neighborhood, where the first book club started in 2009. Inspired by one of its performances, Seattleite Geoff Larson launched the bookish concert series in the Emerald City in 2010. Since then, Seattle’s Bushwick musicians have written and performed songs inspired by books like The Dark Knight Rises graphic novel, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and local chef Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life.

Next Thursday Bushwick will showcase songs inspired by Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. That’s the book about a fictional misogynistic America that sparked the hugely successful TV series starring Elisabeth Moss. And the book’s message “is very prescient for these times,” said Amanda Winterhalter, the Bushwick program director.

Bushwick performer and audio engineer Moe Provencher said The Handmaid’s Tale is all about “the patriarchy and white supremacy and being trapped,” and she’s enjoyed digging into those themes given what’s happening right now politically.

We talked with Moe to learn more about what she finds valuable about Bushwick’s shows.

Does the audience have to have read the book to enjoy the performance?
You don’t have to, but I think it’s extremely useful. Otherwise you’re missing sort of the beauty of the conversation with the artist and the author. If you’ve read the book, there’s an exciting community building part of the show.

Which show has been most memorable for you so far?
I did Lindy West’s Shrill in November. Lindy was at the show and that was really fun. [The book] brings a lot of very rich themes to mind, but I kind of settled on body image. I’d underwent a lot of physical transformation in the past year with weight loss and weight gain and I explored a lot of that in my song.

What’s it like as a musician to write songs about existing pieces of art?
For me, songwriting is a way to process my own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. So it’s awesome to be able to delve into a book more deeply. It’s an awesome prompt for me as a songwriter to do that.

Want to see Bushwick for yourself? Grab tickets to The Handmaid’s Tale show on May 24. Can’t make it? Bushwick will be performing tunes inspired by Norton Juster’s The Phantom Toll Booth on June 10. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for details. Plus, check out more of their past performances here and here.