Saturday 24 July 2021

Great to be back onstage…second of the comeback shows….

NEEDLESS to say we’re in a bit of a guddle trying to get all our shit together and out the hotel room by checkout time.

We only had coffee in the room so head to a supermarket for some supplies and have breakfast in the cafeteria which is surprisingly good.

Onward to Liverpool and it’s not that far – just an hour or so’s drive. Margaret had a helluva job finding a hotel for tonight and ended up having to go a bit upmarket and book a Holiday Inn Express seven or eight miles from tonight’s venue in the centre of town.

When we get there I go to get the iPad. It’s not there. Shit. I do a ‘find my’ search in my phone and sure enough, it looks like it’s still in last night’s hotel. In it’s cover it probably blended in with the leaflets and stuff on the table in our room.

Margaret calls the hotel and, thankfully, they have it. We’ll stop by on the way home tomorrow.

Load-in at Outpost is at 5pm. Our pal Richey – who’s opening the show – is already there and sound man Ian arrives just after we get the gear jn.

Another nice venue and after soundcheck we go to find some grub. The streets are busy and we take a seat at a burger place, unsuccessfully try and order via their app and hang around for ages for help. Time’s now tight so we abandon ship and end up taking some snacks from the supermarket back to the venue.

There’s a nice crowd in by the time Richey and his band kick things off.

I last and sweat my way though just over an hour’s set then we hang out with folks before packing up. There’s time for a beer with Richey and his girlfriend before loading out and heading back to the hotel.

We’re almost there when I dig jn Margaret’s bag for the Osmo video camera. Not there. I check my Tile app and it was ‘last seen’ where the car was parked. Fuck.

We turn around and go back to the wee lane behjnd the venue and the headlights pick out the camera lying on the road. Amazing we got it!

Eventually we get back to the hotel and have a snack and a nightcap. Nice to have been back out for a coupla shows 🙂

Nice to hang out with Richey (left) and some folks after the show…not sure what he’s doing with his arm tho’…

Friday 23 July 2021

First show in 18 months – Gullivers, Manchester \../

WELL, it’s finally here – first live gig date since lockdown…and my first in 18 months.

We need to be on the road to Manchester mid-morning and there’s lots to do. I didn’t have time to rehearse much yesterday so I run through some of the songs I haven’t played in ages.

Then it’s time to pack the gear. Hoping I don’t forget anything…been a while since I did this!

It’s nice weather but roasting hot all the way to Manchester and there’s really only time to drop our bags off at he Premier Inn before we head to the venue.

Gullivers turns out to have a great ruling upstairs and the PA system – and engineer Martin – is awesome.

Soundcheck goes to plan and then we head out for some tacos before returning to the venue in time for doors at 8.30pm.

While hardly at capacity, the audience is great and I have a good show – two 45-minute sets without any hiccups. I’m amazed!!

We’re back at the hotel by midnight and have a snack and a dram….a positive return to live shows!

Thursday 22 July 2021

WE have a bit a of a long lie…then it’s all hands on deck to get everything done in prep for the two gigs this weekend.

I make some hat patches and finish off a bunch of black leather bracelets for the merch table then get on with sorting some other merch for the village shop.

In the studio I re-string three guitars – the first time they’ve been re-strung since before lockdown! I also check the guitars over and replace all batteries.

Although no time left to rehearse today, I make up and print set lists for both shows including some new songs I’ve never played live. I’ll hopefully get a chance to run through most of them to morrow before we have to hit the road.

It’s late when I go back to the house and get the grill fired up for some burgers…

Wednesday 21 July 2021

THERE’S the usual scrabble to get as much done before going to the village shop for my afternoon/evening shift. My last one as I’ve decided to jack it in.

The decision’s down to a load of reasons really, but it all points to the fact that it’s run it’s course and it’s time to concentrate on other stuff.

It’s another glorious day and the shop is busy ‘til I close up at 9pm.

Margaret’s got dinner ready – after we eat I start an online chat with Apple support about a strap for my Apple Watch Margaret bought me as a present less than a year ago. It’s coming adrift a bit and seems to me to be either a flaw or a design issue.

The advisor quotes me a price for a replacement and I explain I want it to be replaced, not buy another! She tells me a senior advisor will call me in half an hour…but no call comes. I’ll pick up on it tomorrow!

Tuesday 20 July 2021

How and why I make my own merch!

A CRAZY morning trying to get on top off stuff before my second last shift in the village shop.

I also nip along to Betty and Joe’s to help Betty with a wee task.

It’s a beautiful day and the village – and shop – is mobbed. There’s a load of things behind my decision to leave the shop – too many and too personal to go into here. Let’s just say it’s a huge relief to put some of the issues behind me.

Back home we have a late dinner, I get some work done on a video showing how and why I’ve stated making my own music merch – and also started up West Highland Way Gifts. See it here.

There’s some other work to do and I manage to get to bed before 1am!

Monday 19 July 2021

GUITAR session with a student in the borders first thing, then a bit of a scramble to get some stuff done before a ‘cover’ shift at the village shop.

When I get to the shop I find ‘the directors’ have opted not to stock my West Highland Gifts souvenirs. I’m pretty taken aback. In fact, it’s the final straw, and I decide my position at the shop is untenable and if I haven’t had any response to a message I sent by the time time I’ve finished my shift I’ll be handing in a letter of resignation.

I’ve got my own opinions on why this has happened – and I’ve seen similar in the past. When I get home the letters are typed up and hand delivered. Although I’ve stated my immediate resignation, I’m willing – if appropriate – to work my Tuesday and Wednesday shifts. If I take a hard line it’ll be the shop staff that have to deal with the immediate shortage of staff and I don’t want to take it out on them, as such.

Margaret has to go to the village. I go with her and take a walk back then meet with a WHW gifts customer to hand over an order.

Back home I run another guitar session with a student then my weekly livestream into Wildcats group on Facebook.

Then a quick dinner and a meeting with one of the directors of the business that is ultimately responsible for the shop. I make my position quite clear but accept the explanation of why things happened the way they did. While I’ll be standing by my resignation from shop duties, we have a good chat over a glass of red and the outcome is that the shop will be stocking some of the West Highland Way Gifts range regardless.

Sunday 18 July 2021

We do some grillin’ for dinner…

WE have a lazy morning then Matty heads off.

Les is interested in the West Highland Way Gifts project so I illustrate how I do everything and make her a keyring.

In between stages of production I help Les set up two-factor authentication for her own website, Amazon etc.

I set up a video ad on Facebook and InstaGram for Friday and Saturday’s return to the live stage then sort some burgers to cook outside for dinner.

We have a chilled night chatting over a few glasses of red and make an exception to my ‘no alcohol on a Sunday’ pledge!

Saturday 17 July 2021

Lovely ‘family’ afternoon – WiIl and the kids missing from the pic..

AFTER breakfast Margaret and I start getting things prepared for everyone coming – Lesley, Mikey, Catriona, Will and the kids…Matty’s already here.

I get the charcoal chimney and grill ready to go when we decide to eat then folks start arriving.

We have a lovely afternoon with burgers and a desert Margaret’s knocked up. There’s time for a wee walk up the lochside before Catriona, Will and the kids go home.

I’m making carnitas for dinner later – meantime I make the tortilla dough with blue corn masa and prepare the salsa.

It’s getting late when the carnitas are ready then we sit, chat and drink into he wee hours.

Friday 16 July 2021

I make a quick video promo for next weekend’s live shows…

WE’RE all pretty burst when we wake up..and I have a panic as a pal visiting with the area is gonna be dropping. by with his family for coffee in five minutes and I’m only just getting in the shower!

I’m just out when David, Ineke and one of their foster kids arrives. We all sit out side and have rolls and sausage and coffee.

David and Ineke head off back to Campbeltown just after midday…and Bill and Dorothy hit the road not long after.

I have some promo to do for this evening’s InstagramTV interview with G7th Capos…I’m their artist of the week 🙂

There’s also a load of emails to catch up on and I need to make a quick promo video for next weekend’s live shows to put round my socials and use as an ad.

Matty arrives late afternoon and we hang out a little before I hit the kitchen and make a bunch of burgers for tomorrow’s ‘family day’ cook out then it’s time for the IGTV interview.

It goes well, but Instagram isn’t a great platform – sound quality isn’t great and there’s always buffering issues.

Back at the house I light the grill for pinchitos and crack open a beer – medicinal reasons, of course!

Thursday 15 July 2021

Bill and I have a lovely afternoon at Glengoyne..and it’s great to catch up with my pal Joanne 🙂

UP early to get the beef short ribs slathered and rubbed, then off to Glasgow for a haircut. my first in 18 months.

It’s a beautiful day and a nice drive to the city. I park up and walk to the hairdresser – a new one for em – on Great Western Road. I’m happy with the result.

I’m back home just after 1pm and hurry to get the smoker going and ribs on before our pals Bill and Dorothy arrive. As it is, they’re a little later than planned, so I get most of my tasks out the way.

We have a coffee and blether, then Dorothy drives us to Glengoyne distillery where I’ve set up a wee tasting session for Bill and I. Great way to spend an afternoon 🙂

Back home the beef’s going on well int he smoker and we hang out before setting up for my livestream session for Homesong. Bill’s gonna guest on the stream. We have a grand time then tidy up and rink beer while we wait for the short ribs to reach optimum internal temperature (203 degrees. Precisely).

We eat drink, chat then embark on a Smokehead tasting session which we finish around 3am….uh-oh…