Saturday 22 April 2017

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Wide Days’ keynote – Olaf interviews Music For Nations chief Julie Weir after lunch at the Usher Hall

FEELING rough again this morning…I blame the late night chips. My belly’s not used to the carbs these days!

We get the bus into the centre of Edinburgh and meet up with some of the other Wide Days speakers and folks. Olaf’s taking us all on a bus tour. It’s a good networking morning and another chance to catch up with folks.

The bus tour includes a stop for a walk up Calton Hill which blows away most of the cobwebs then we roll up at the Usher Hall for coffee, drinks and lunch on the stage, Once we’ve all eaten and chatted, Olaf interviews Music For Nations head Julie Weir who we met yesterday..then there’s a tour of the Usher Hall and a whisky tasting. A great way to round of the event.

We get the bus back to Lesley’s, pick up the car and head for home.

Matty – who’s staying the night – arrives at the same time.

The vinyl test pressings for my forthcoming double live album have arrived. No time tonight to check ’em, but we’ll put aside a couple of hours aside tomorrow to ensure that all’s good before the main manufacturing run. Exciting.

Test pressings for the forthcoming double vinyl live album…

Tuesday 28 March 2017

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We set up a bunch of shots at the hall to (potentially) use on album artwork…

BACK onto the album artwork first thing. I’m trying to get the ‘special’ elements of the design built in  trial version of Photoshop CC before it expires on Friday. My ‘old’ version (Photoshop CS5) is good for everyhting else.

I’ve consigned the illustration of Memorial Hall to the bin – a whole day’s work unused, but not wasted as it gave me other ideas that, I think, are better.

All the new songs for the album are registered with PRS for Music, but I need to log the recordings/performances with PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd)  and also apply for an AP2 licence form MCPS/PRS for the manufacturing of both the vinyl and CDs.

As an MCPS writer member, I need to have an ‘exclusion’ for my own label (Buzz Records) so I don’t have to pay royalties on my own music – otherwise I have to pay them then wait for them to be re-distributed back to me minus MCPS commission/admin fee. 

I think I set up the exclusion when I joined, but to be sure, I decide to call MCPS. Let the saga begin.

Trying to find a phone number is the first hurdle. Nothing online or anywhere – event for members, which is pretty shocking. I eventually find a number on a third party website and speak to a girl who says I haven’t set up an exclusion. To do so, I need to print out and complete a form, get a letter from my bank manager or accountant to say that Dave Arcari and Dave Arcari t/a Buzz are the same entity then post it off snail mail. Jeez. 

I point out that this is a bit ridiculous as they have past paperwork indicating Buzz and myself are the same thing…and a query to PPL will confirm. She puts me onto another department where, after hanging on hold for ten minutes, tell me there’s no other way/

Also, it’s harder than it seems – I do my own accounts and anyone that’s tried to call their bank branch, let alone their ‘bank manager’ (they don’t even exist these days!..customers tend to have faceless account managers will know that there are no branch numbers and everything’s handled centrally.

Having now wasted an hour or more I have no option than to try the bank route. The central number is for ‘direct banking’ and when i eventually get to speak to someone they tell me they can get a letter…but they need to instruct folks in India who type it up (yup, really!) and send it direct. Should be with me in five to ten business days.

Then then the exclusion needs to be set up before I apply for AP2 licence…all before we can go to manufacture, And time’s tight. What a fucking carry on – no wonder folks don’t bother with physical product these days – I could have the whole fucking thing on iTunes and other services before the exclusion is even set up!

While on the phone I’ve been developing ideas for a logo for the local community trust which I email off to our pal Joe before I go and see him and Betty to set up their new iPad.

Once we’re done I head up the lochside for a walk. I need some fresh air to clear my head before dinner and a trip to the hall to take some photos for potential album art.

All goes to plan at the hall – I set up the camera using Margaret as a model then we swap places and she re-frames as necessary and directs my movements while firing off as many shots as possible. It’s after 11pm when we get home. Time for a much-needed dram.

Saturday 11 March 2017

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We enjoy a wee Glengoyne 15-year-old while consdiering final tracklistings for the CD and vinyl formats of the forthcoming live album

AFTER a long lie we have breakfast and I start pulling the live mixes we’ve been working on over the last few days into iTunes and onto our Sonos server so we can listen easily.

We spend the remainder of the morning and all afternoon listening and checking tracks, deciding which tracks to go on the final release then working out timings.

The timings are particularly important for the (hopefully) vinyl release – four side that should ideally be between no longer than 18 minutes…and certainly no more than 24 minutes. That involves a fair bit of juggling and we also need to consider inter-song chat/stories and where we can cross fade applause. We can’t have too much vinyl real estate taken up by stories and chat, but it does need a little.

Of course on top of this, we need to think budget. After tomorrow we’ll have spent the best part of £1000 that we don’t have on mixing and mastering. I’m hoping the studio can take credit card payments ’til we work out how the hell we’re gonna pay for it.

It all seems a little careless (economically), but if we don’t move things forward the album just won’t happen ‘cos we’ll never have the cash!

We also need to work out how we’re gonna pay for manufacturing CDs and vinyl. Neither Margaret nor myself feel the crowdfunding model is appropriate…I have a couple of guitars I can sell (a Lowden acoustic and a nice National Resolectric)...but one has been on Gumtree, Facebook etc for a while and I’m not getting any takers, so while their sale could help (a lot!) it’s not looking too postive from that angle. So if any of my blog readers know anyone wanting to ‘invest’ in a guitar/s and in doing so help our cause, please put them in touch!

The pre-mastering logistic work takes us ’til after 8pm when we decide to call it a day and re-visit tomorrow (Sunday).

I make a green curry and watch a documentary about the making of Primal Scream’s 1991 album Screamadelica – can’t believe it’s that old – before having a (relatively) early night.

Saturday 4 March 2017

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Lee warms up the crowd with an awesome set at my live album recording show.

WE’RE up early and have breakfast then pack the car with the rest of the gear for tonight’s show.

By 10.30am I’ve got a time-lapse camera set up to capture preparations for the gig and all the gear’s in the hall.

Margaret leaves me to rig the PA, lights and get the recording stuff set up and comes back a few hours later to help me fly stereo mics out front and an audience mic then I soundcheck and we set some basic recording levels.

Lee arrives and Margaret leaves me to run his soundcheck. A problem with one of the stereo mics turns out to be unresolvable…think it’s the preamp on the audio interface. Ah well, should still be enough to capture the sound.

Martyn comes in with a couple of cameras and sets up to film the show then we all head off for dinner.

We’re back at the hall a good half hour before doors open to sort the tables and seating. It also gives Martyn and Louise a chance to set the cameras with the proposed stage lighting.

By the time Lee hits the stage at 7.30pm, the hall is full and he plays a great set. Then it;s my turn. Two sets of about an hour each to try and get as much material recorded as possible…33 songs!

All goes pretty much to plan and we have a great night…the audience is fantastic other than a wee group of guys at the back that Margaret ends up chucking out, their chat and behaviour was affecting folks sitting around them.

After some time chatting and thanking folks for coming out we start de-rigging and tidying up.

Catriona, Will and Matty are staying over so we have a few drams and finally get to bed sometime after 2am…I’m gubbed. Been a fun, stressful and exciting all at once day.

Have a blast recording stuff for a live album…

Tuesday 14 February 2017

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A wee smacker for Valentine’s Day on our walk up the lochside….

IT’S VALENTINE’S Day – we swap cards but, as agreed, no presents. In saying that, after givin spiralising a whirl with the wee manual gadget I bought last week Margaret did buy an electric spiraliser as a mutual gift. A half-price bargain on Amazon.

A spiraliser, for those who haven’t caught on yet, is a gadget that turns veg into spaghetti-like strings for salads, stir-frys or carb-free ‘zoodles’ – spiralised courgette (zuchinni) that is a remarkably good substitute for pasta!

In the studio I do (very) rough mixes of a couple of tracks recorded at Friday night’s show then take them to the house to check out. There’s definitely potential, so we discuss ideas, logistics and possibilities…as well as, of course, the economics of putting on an special show to be recorded for a live album.

At lunchtime we test the new spiraliser on some mooli (daikon radish) and carrot which I warm in a  spicy peanut sauce. I tried it last week and despite the sauce being a bit wet (or ‘runny) it was good. Today’s sauce is thicker and has more chilli and…Margaret likes it!

We get some more work done then go for a walk, stopping in at Betty and Joe’s to help get their Skybox and Firestick working on the new wifi network. Once done we carry on our walk then stop back in for a coffee on our way back.

Thanks to Betty’s help and enthusiasm, we decide to set up a live recording show at Buchanan Memorial Hall…we need to move fast as time isn’t on our side and when we get home Margaret checks availability and books for Saturday 4 November. It will be a special gig! And I’m especially happy that, as well as helping out on a technical (audio/video) basis, my pal Lee is gonna come and do a short warm-up set.

Tickets will be extremely limited and are available here.

Continuing our low-carb efforts, I make basil, lemongrass and lime tofu with cauliflower rice. My carb intake today has been one slice of wholemeal toast and a can of lager. While I could cut them out, I’m not sure that it’s necessary to be ‘carb-free’…my aim is simply to cut down on sugar and carbs and see if there’s any difference.

Click above for info/tickets for the upcoming ‘live album’ show!

Dave Arcari is a full-time touring alternative blues (alt.blues) guitar player
 and songwriter 
based on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland

Monday 23 January 2017

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This second hand bargain picked up after a wee appeal on Facebook could be the key to a live recording…

BLUDDY cold today…so we light the fire as soon as it’s set!

There’s a lot on the to-list so we have a ‘Buzz meeting’ to catch up. In addition, I really need to update the ‘Introduction to Dave Arcari’ video  that means trawling through, and selecting, a load of video clips and also filming a ‘personal’ piece to top and tail the thing.

Margaret’s not so sure we need the extra bit of personal filming, but I’m adamant that it needs a couple of seconds at the start and finish to give some perspective and insight into what I’m busy with rather than just jamming together a set of clips. We spend time debating and discussing…but it’s important! Looks like decent weather on Friday so we’ll film something then. Meantime, I’ll try and identify some video clips.

The need to do a Facebook Livestream – mainly to promote the upcoming Scottish dates – is becoming urgent. However, we face the  usual crap broadband service at home issue…Margaret suggests a wee test, and we manage to get ‘connected’…but the stream is constantly interrupted and sound etc breaking up/ The replay works OK, but that defeats the purpose of the live stream which, for me, is all about the real-time interaction with folks watching.

So with the home broadband being too flaky we decide the only thing to do is wait ’til Saturday and do it from ‘somewhere up the lochside’. So, 2pm Saturday it is – at

A courier delivers the Zoom R16 multitrack recorder – a second hand bit of kit at a bargain price after a wee appeal for one on Facebook. This may be the key to a successful (ie: usable) recording for a live album.

In the studio I rehearse a couple of new tunes for next week’s (Wednesday 1 February, 5pm) appearance on STV’s Live at Five show.

I also manage to complete all the backup, organising and archiving of hard drives I started a few weeks ago. All that remains is to make a safety copy of the resulting archive so I can move/copy every six months or so to maintain the integrity of the data. It appears that even hard drive archives can become corrupted and the best way to prevent that is to copy form one drive to another and rewrite the data every so often. Bleedin’ hell. More work.

I take a couple of mics and some headphones back to the house and run a few tests on the R16 recorder to make sure it’s all working as it should. All’s good, so the next step is to source some mic splitters to take direct live feeds – I don’t want to take outputs from the venue’s mixing desk or use ‘y’ cables which could compromise the sound of both the show and the recording. And although I’m pretty well up on recording techniques and procedures, I reckon there’s gonna be a bit of trial and error even working out if the live recording idea has legs.

Dave Arcari is a full-time touring alternative blues (alt.blues) guitar player and songwriter 
based on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland

Thursday 29 December 2016

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I’m always fascinated by the ‘Milarochy Tree’ when walking up the lochside…

WE sleep in. Again. Dunno if this is down to tiredness, lack of exercise or too much bevvy. It certainly isn’t down to a lack of things needing done!

At our pals Duncan and Irene’s the other night, Duncan re-inforced the idea of doing a live album. A lot of people at the mech table have been asking Margaret “is there a live album?” and, of course, there isn’t. Add in the fact that two of my five albums are now ‘deleted’ and unavailable in physical format and another two are all but sold out, maybe a live album would fill the gap nicely. There’s a bunch of new songs that could go on there too.

I spend the next few hours thinking it through and writing down some ideas. Might just be the way to go!

After a late lunch of home made lettuce soup – sounds crap, but it’s amazing – I spend some time downloading various audio software updates. Technical stuff’s been a bit neglected over the last year.

While the downloads are…erm…downloading, I make the most of the last of the daylight and go out for a walk.

Back home, I try and install the software updates in the studio. Every fucking one of them fails – either directly because my Mac OS is ‘out of date (purposefully, as it can be a can of worms getting caught in the disparity between ProTools and Mac OS updates) or crashing as a result of something being out of date. Jeez. Waste of time…and a wake up call. We can’t afford to update the machine in the studio, or the main software so looks like my trip into obsolescence is about to start 🙁

Oh well. I’ve decided to have an alcohol-free day and offer my insides a wee bit of relief, so it;s a quiet night after dinner reading and watching a bit of telly….

Thursday 24 March 2016

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The spinach pasta turns out good...pretty green!

The spinach pasta turns out good…pretty green!

NEED to bite the bullet today and get everything prepared for the Hellbound Train EP release (10 June).

First job is to get everything registered with PRS/MCPS and PPL. I already registered Good Moonshine (aka I Went to America) and Travellin’ Man as these have been part of my live show recently.

Checking them out before I add Hellbound Train and Pearline, though, I see that I Went to America – the ‘otherwise known as’/other title – has a publisher’s name beside it. I assigned a bunch of instrumentals and a few songs to them, but this ain’t one of them! I call my pal Duncan at MCPS for advice and he recommends I amend the share splits and it should sort itself out.

Once done with the PRS/MCPS registrations I move onto PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) which collects and distributes the record company/recording owner’s royalties as well as the performers’ royalties. All yours truly in this case as I am the label,publisher, writer and performer of all parts…other than drums on Hellbound Train which come courtesy of Paul Savage (Delgados).

Once all that’s done I upload the master audio files to my aggregator (the modern equivalent of a distributor) along with all the metadata – basically info on the song, writer, IRSC (International Standard Recording Code) codes and other stuff to make sure the tracks are identifiable in the wider world and royalties etc (hopefully) all go in the right direction.

Time for a break, so I make some pork gyoza for lunch and put together some spinach pasta dough for tonight’s dinner.

While cover art was finished yesterday, I need to pull together a digital booklet to include with iTunes downloads…adds a little value and is an incentive for folks to download the full EP rather than just a few tracks. iTunes has very strict guidelines/criteria for digital booklets.

Sometime after 8pm I’m ready for a beer and finish up for the day. Almost there with the EP prep – just a coupe of pages to finalise in the iTunes booklet which I’ll upload tomorrow. That’ll give me 11 weeks to get a good lead in to iTunes and the other download/streaming services and the PR can start next week. Still need to decide if any physical promo is needed or we can do it all online…

I rustle up a tomato sugo with chicken and the spinach pasta turns out good….


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