Friday 12 August 2022

My first attempt at sourdough – the rolls look a little wonky but taste great!

LESS than a week to go ’til I take my tracks into Chem19 for mixing….so I’m straight into the studio to try and move things forward.

The morning is spent tweaking what may – or may not – be called Walk the Walk and editing some beats I carelessly added yesterday. Once I’ve sorted out some timing of ‘the hits’ it sounds quite good. Margaret agrees. Whether they’ll stay in the final mix or not I don’t know. At least they’re there if I do want them!

Late morning I take some of the sourdough starter I fed last night and mix some dough to make rolls. I sit the tub outside and leave it to prove.

After a quick lunch in garden it’s back into the studio to get some more guitar tracks down. Normally I record everything live – guitar and vocal at the same time – but for this album I need to keep things separate as there’s some folks contributing drums, blues harp, cajun accordion and stuff. Plus I want to have a bit more creative control over the mix.

There’s a few songs that were released digitally during lockdown that have never been album tracks or featured on a physical product. Folks have been asking for them on CD and/or vinyl so I need to work out if I just wanna remix…or re-record.

Being tight for time, I’d like to just remix but I think it would be better, time permitting, to re-record as much as I can and give us more options later in the process. I might play them better…or they might be crap. Who knows!

It’s quite stressful recording some of the guitar…a lot to do and stay on top of when you’re on your tod and then I have a few broken strings to deal with too!

By 6pm I’ve had enough, shut up the studio and make the sourdough into rolls, cover with clingfilm and leave for an hour for final proofing.

Meantime, I go for a quick paddle and when i get back Margaret’s got the rolls in the oven. They turn out pretty good for a first attempt!

A quick paddle after I’m finished in the studio…

Thursday 11 August 2022

A nice surprise visit from Richard Cregan 🙂

THE final batch of fridge magnets for the village shop goes into production before breakfast then my Thursday morning guitar student arrives for her lesson.

Once we’re done I pack up all the West Highland Way Gifts‘ merch for the shop, do the paperwork and drop it off. I also dash along to Betty’s with a postage label I printed out for her.

After lunch I hit the studio where I record some more vocals and work on tracks for the new album. Just a week to go ’til we’re in Chem19 mixing….

I’d had a message from a Dublin-based pal earlier – he’s in Glasgow today and wondered if we were up for a visit. of course, be great to see him. He pays a flying visit for a coffee early afternoon then heads off and I go back to the studio…

Wednesday 10 August 2022

ANOTHER lovely day and we decide to take the big gazebo down – it’s simple enough and nice to have the garden opened up a bit.

I spend the morning prepping audio files and setting up sessions etc with some folks that are gonna add some extra instrumental stuff on a coupla tracks on the new album.

There’s a midday Zoom session with one of my guitar students then another rep form a solar company arrives. He’s less ‘salesy’ than the last rep that came and a lot more – and better – info. One more rep to come tomorrow then we’ll be on target to get three quotes/proposals and be able to progress things with the Energy Savings Trust.

After lunch I hit the studio and lay down a guitar track for another new song. It’s not a priority tho’ – I need to get one more song written and it’s not going well…I wanna do something on the three-string cigar box but it all sounds a bit cliched and to make matters worse I seem to always end up ‘singing the chord’ and/or rhythm.

In the kitchen I put four chicken breasts in to cook sous vide – we’re taking dinner to Betty and Joe later –then go for a walk to try and clear my head. I also need to call JonZip and see if he fancies coming to play a garden house concert in a few weeks time. He does 🙂

I rush home and make a pepper sauce for the chicken. margaret sorts the mash and broccoli then we dash along to Betty and Joe’s for dinner. The sous vide chicken and pepper sauce is a hit!

Tuesday 9 August 2022

Great lunch out with a load of music chums…including Kevin McDermott, Rab Noakes and Fraser Speirs. Happy days 🙂

THERE’S a bunch of stuff to get done before we head into Glasgow.

Margaret’s going shopping and I’m having lunch with a group of 20 or so musicians, media and music business pals.

We meet at the Chinatown restaurant at midday – kinda early for lunch compared to my usual routine (1.30pm if you must know!) but it was the only time we could get a booking for a large group. And by the time we actually get food ordered it’s nearly 1pm…then a big spread of dim sum , noodles , wonton soup and all sorts starts arriving.

It’s a great couple of hours then Margaret picks me up and we head for home where I marinade a bit of flank steak to go on the grill later.

I’ve had a message form the village shop asking for stock replenishments so I nip down and see hat they might need…then go back to the office and make sure I’ve enough raw materials to produce the stuff. Some bits and bobs need ordered and should arrive sometime tomorrow.

Margaret goes to see Betty and Joe and I get some work done in the studio then our pal Francis drops by with some sourdough starter and we have a beer in the garden. He’s a keen – and very good – breadmaker.

he’s not long gone when Maragert gets back having been given a lift along the road by Sandy who comes in for a coupla drinks and a blether. needless to say it’s 11pm before I get the steak on the grill…worth waiting for tho’!

Monday 8 August 2022

First vocal sessions for the new album…

AFTER the routine admin I set up for my first Zoom guitar student of the day.

There’s a one-off session with a guitar student in Killearn which is further away than ‘usual’ because of all the closed roads around the area. We have a good hour and i think I manage to help with a few things that had been flumoxing her.

After lunch my priority is to lay down vocals on the first track to be recorded for the new album. The session goes pretty well. I do a rough mix and send it off to Chris for drums to be added.

There’s time for a quick walk up the lochside which doubles as an opportunity to do some candid livestream promo for my Wildcats’ group livestream later.

I edit some video from the first song recording process to put in the livestream along with some archive Radiotones footage form 2006 and plan the livestream before another Zoom guitar student. Phew!

Sunday 7 August 2022

Mic-ing the guitar for the first new song session…

MARGARET’S off to take Catriona and the kids swimming in the village.

I have breakfast and get a few things done then all roll up. Margaret makes the kids mac’n’cheese and I hit the studio.

Time’s starting to run out to get all my recordings ready for mixing at Chem19 and I need to get the new songs finished and recorded. I decide to start with a new song – Devil May Care – as I need to send it to my pal Chris in Northern Ireland to add some drums.

I watched a video on re-amping guitars and, as luck would have it, I don’t need any extra gear, so I think this is the way forward for recording the guitar. Plus three microphones it will cover all bases.

It wakes me a while to get set up and figure out what to do…then I need to work out the final (?!?!) guitar part, set up mics and get recording. Recording and producing your own stuff, by yourself, is quite difficult…but tI think I get a take in the bag….

Happy with my progress – albeit slow – I go back tot hehjosue and marinade some chicken for the grill then go out for a quick walk.

I get the charcoal and grill going and do the chicken which we enjoy while watching a film…no idea what it was called but it was about two old folks in an apartment block getting to know each other….

Saturday 6 August 2022

The West Highland Way route to Conic Hill is a grand bike ride…

UP EARLY at Catriona’s…no choice when the kids are jumping all over you!

Will gets back from his nightshift and has a coffee with us while we have breakfast…then he goes to bed and Catriona takes Aaron to a party. Margaret and I stay with Freya and when Margaret takes her to feed the ducks I start the bike ride home.

I stop off at Duncan and Irene’s in Gartmore to pick up a hat I left there on our last visit then carry on my way home.

The bike’s pretty manky from the off-road sections route. I wash it down, give it a dry then lube the chain and give the while bike a once-over.

I’d had an idea to make some wee wooden earrings and knock up some artwork for a wee test set for Margaret. They turn out pretty cute and she likes them 🙂

I little more work on another new song in the studio then I light up a chimney-full of charcoal for the grill and cook our burgers…

Friday 5 August 2022

STRAIGHT into the studio to try and switch up the latest song idea.

What i’ve got is a bit repetitive and it needs a chorus or middle eight.

I record another very rough version and end it to my pal Chris who, I hope, will be able to add some drums on the final version.

After lunchtime arancini I try and sort out a revamped ’linktree’ style landing page for my website. it’s tricky trying to get it to work across mobile and desktop devices but I manage to come up with fix that’s not too much of a compromise.

We’re staying at Catriona’s tonight and Margaret heads off late afternoon….I’m going on the bike so finish off some more work then have a nice 27-mile cycle ride to Doune 🙂

Thursday 4 August 2022

I finish an order for a bunch of these Ben Lomond key fobs..they’re available on my West Highland Way Gifts website 🙂

THERE’S a bit of a scrabble to get the order for Ben Lomond leather key fobs finished…Margaret sews them up and I do the edging, add the rings and box ’em up ready for the post.

In the studio I continue tweaking the new songs and after lunch we go to the dentist.

My checkup goes fine other than something on my tongue that the dentist is slightly concerned about. I’ve to go back in three weeks for them to poke around a little more.

I walk back home while Margaret gets her checkup and drives back.

Back in the studio I record a ‘pre-demo’ of one of the new song ideas then get busy creating a new linktree-style landing page for my website.

Again, time has flown by and it’s time to take dinner along to Betty and Joe…

Wednesday 3 August 2022

STARTING to feel a bit under pressure to finish of the new songs for consideration for my album project.

There’s two that are 99% ‘there’ but one of the ideas is still going round in circles and needs developed. Fast!

And the three string guitar boogie isn’t much more than a riff and some ‘placeholder’ lyrics. Need to get a move on.

In the studio I manage to focus on one of the songs…then the guy from the solar company arrives to check our our house’s suitability for solar panels and storage. Once he’s done, Margaret heads into town to get some shopping and I start off a run of leather keyfobs to fulfil an order from the West Highland Way Gifts’ website.

Back in the studio I have a mentoring session with a social media guru via Help Musicians. It’s part of their album support package and very useful.

I manage to develop the third new song and re-write the lyrics onto something more meaningful. In between times I nip to the office to dye the keyfobs…hopefully I’ll get them finished tomorrow.

It’s nearly 9pm when we have dinner then wander along the road for a drink with Barbara and Thorsten. Good to catch up!


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