Tuesday 28 February 2017

The sunshine prompts an impromptu Facebook Livestream form the lochside. Click the pic to watch

THERE’S a few reminders pop up in the diary.

First, book a haircut for tomorrow (Wednesday) while I’m in Glasgow. Actually, that was in the diary yesterday, but the Soul Barber Room’s closed on a Monday. I make an appointment for early afternoon, by which time, I hope, the car will have been fixed.

The second is to chase Three. We both really need to upgrade our phones but can’t afford it. I chatted with Three’s business folks on Friday and submitted all the documentation to apply for a business account. The guy I deal with is on holiday today but the guy I spoke to confirmed safe receipt of the stuff, so fingers crossed…

Once they’re done I do  quick social media post showing off the Glengoyne whisky flask-cum-belt buckle I picked up recently.

Tomorrow’s the first of the month. eNewsletter day. And also the deadline for April gig dates for a load of national magazines, so I send the m off then write/prepare my March eNewsletter and, using Mailchimp, schedule it to out to all my lists at various times tomorrow morning.

If you’re curious, you can get a heads up and read it here.

The sun’s out as I prepare the smoker for the bacon lattice-wrapped pork loin I’ve prepared….all ready to go early/mid-afternoon. The pork loin is short (three or four hour) smoke then, once it’s done, I usually let it rest in a faux cambro for an hour or two.

The sun also prompts a decision to stage a last-minute Facebook Livestream from up the lochside (the only place I can get fast enough connection – mobile or otherwise!). I put a status update on Facebook and run a few tweets to say I’ll be ‘going live’ in an hour at 3.15pm…it’ll take me a good 25-minutes to walk up there. 

I underestimate the time to get the charcoal lit and the meat on the smoker…and also the time to gather what I need. Plus, the wee travel resonator guitar I’m taking doesn’t have a strap, so I need to improvise something.

I’m tight for time leaving and I leg it up the pass. Just as I’m about to take a shortcut through the forest Arthur stops and offers me a lift. I get there with a good five minutes to spare to set things up for the Livestream and go live at 3.15pm precisely. It’s a bit of a fuddle trying to do it all myself but it all goes to plan. Much easier when Margret’s there to help with the camera (ie: phone!) and to relay messages, comments and questions tho. You can watch it on replay here.

Back home, the smoker’s all going good. i add some more applewood chips then get on with retitling the Livestream video and sharing it about a bit to try and get some more traction.

Margaret arrives back just as the pork loin in the smoker reaches temperature. We won;t eat for another couple of hours so we wrap it in a double layer of foil, then a towel and put it in a cool box…there – a ‘faux cambo’ πŸ™‚

We get some more work done then eat, The pork’s amazing.

Both puggled, we chill for a while then have an early night.

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Thursday 23 February 2017

At Perth College – pic: Paul Oliver (via Instagram)

THERE’S a fair bit of snow when we leave the house at 7.30am and when we reach Croftamie, there’s a big tailback of cars. Not moving.

Normally the road’s almost deserted, so this ain’t good as I need to get to Milngavie to catch a train into Glasgow, then another to Perth where I’m speaking at an educational music networking event at Perth College at 1pm.

We turn round and head in the opposite direction along the A811, thinking we can join the A81 at Ballat…but a mile or so we get there, there’s another tailback. Everything’s at a standstill. Someone who must’ve turned round near the blockage tells us two lorries have got stuck in the snow, so we turn round and take a wee ungritted road toward Balfron where we manage to get onto the A81 and make some prgress. Margaret drops me at Milngavie station at 9am  and I;m in Glasgow by 9.30am, bumping into a pal – Allan Nimmo – on the way.

At Queen Street Station I buy my return ticket to Perth then nip out to a nearby Greggs for a roll and sausage and a coffee. I’m meet up with fellow panelists Richy Muirhead (Scottish Alternative Music Awards/BBC Social) and singer/songwriter Finn LeMarinel and we travel together, getting to Perth College in plenty of time for the 1pm event.

Organiser Laima meets us in the coffee bar and takes us to the lecture theatre where we’re speaking. Laima and her fellow students Kaia and Janina were at the Scottish Music Industry Association’s (SMIA)  ‘creative conversation’ event I was speaking at a month or two ago – nice to see them and catch up.

There’s a good audience in when we kick things off and the panel moderator does a great job in directing questions and getting us to talk about the kind of stuff the folks want to hear about.

We’re done soon after 3pm and head to the students’ union to hear some live music. Finn’s had to head back – Richy and I have time to hang out for a while before we have to make our way to the station for the train back to Glasgow.

Margaret picks me up at the station and we make it home in time for a Skype guitar masterclass I’m teaching at 8pm.

After dinner I do a wee bit extra promo on next Saturday’s (4 March) special live recording show at the Memorial Hall, Milton of Buchanan. Tickets are going well and there’s a fine balance between having good crowd in and not having the place too packed out.

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Tuesday 14 February 2017

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

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Monday 13 February 2017

Leaving the lights of London behind as we fly back to Glasgow…

OFF TO London…but not so early as to have to catch the red eye.

My meeting’s not ’til 2.30pm, but my flight from Glasgow to London City leaves 1/2-hour late which means I have to rush across London to get to Musicians’ Union (MU) HQ so’s not to be late. I get there bang on time.

The baldy wee fud next to me on the plane ignores the announcement to stow away laptops and table as we prepare to land…then he ignores the stewardess’s polite request to put it away. I’m torn between telling him myself and saying nothing to see how long it’ll take him to put the computer away. He doesn’t. And of course by the time we’re on the ground it’s pointless saying anything anyway.

I can’t help wondering how someone can have the arrogance to behave like that. Is he stupid? Was he hoping to start a fight? Ass-hole. I resist the temptation to smack him in the pus for being such an arrogant wee shite once we’re off the plane! Anyway…

The meeting was called at late notice to deal with some urgent business. It’s dealt with quickly and we also manage to get through a few more important issues – we’re done just after 5.30pm and it’s been a very positive and productive afternoon.

I don’t have to rush quite so much on the return trip and have time to stop off en route to pick up a  sashimi salad to eat at the airport. For all it’s convenience, London City airport has a crap selection of food available…and what there is, is incredibly over-priced. 

I panic as my bag’s pulled aside at security. Maybe they’re gonna confiscate my sashimi…there’s likely a wee bottle of soy sauce in there. The security guy says “you have liquids!’…I look back quizzically and pull out the sashimi salad box. Nope. I rummage about again. Turns out there’s a wee bottle of hand wash in the bottom of the bag. It’s been in there for years and goodness knows how many airport security checks it’s gone through unnoticed!

I apologise as he runs a check on the wee bottle, bags it up and gives me it back with a smile.

The flight back to Glasgow is quiet and I sleep most of the way. I tighten the cap on the miniature of malt and slip it my pocket to enjoy later…better not drink it on the plane ‘cos I’ve to drive home.

It’s nearly 11pm when I get home and share a bottle of red with Margaret then head to bed.

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

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Friday 10 February 2017

Awesome night at the Hug & Pint thanks to Jamie (Little Fire), left, and soundman Doug πŸ™‚

GIG day today – so first task is printing out set lists and getting some last-miniute online and social media promo out.

We’re also gonna try recording tonight’s show and I spend a while gathering an assortment of mics, cables, splitter boxes and other stuff along with the eight-track recorder.

I’m just about to pack the car when Joe shows up to measure our front door to see if their old canopy could be put to good use. I finish packing then there’s time for a coffee and a blether. Joe heads back along the road and we head for Glasgow.

The Hug & Pint is β€“ along with Broadcast, King Tut;s and the Glad Cafe – one of our favourite Glasgow venues and I;m really looking forward to tonight’s gig.

Soundman Doug is ready and waiting when we load in – he’s done my sound a few times in the past and always been great. We’re set up in no time and Doug goes way beyond the call of duty in helping us set up to record the show with minimum fuss…he plugs in his laptop, has loads of good ideas and soon we;re soundchecked and back upstairs enjoying some amazing grub. The food at the Hug & Pint is amazing too!

My pal Jamie – aka Little Fire – who’s opening the show arrives just as we finish eating and is all set up and soundchecked by the time doors open at 8pm. 

There’s a good crowd in for Jamie kicking things off and he plays a wonderful set. So glad we managed to sort a show together after years of talking about it!

I do a quick Facebook Live from backstage and sink a wee dram before I start my set. The place is pretty packed – a nice mixture of old and new faces πŸ™‚

After load out there’s time for a drink then we make for home, stopping off for a haggis supper en route. That’s fucked the low carb efforts of the last few days!

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

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Saturday 4 February 2017

At The Green Room, Perth

THE merch that had gone missing en route to the USA has turned up! Phew!

But there’s some orders come in thatI need to get packed up and away before the last post pickup at midday.

Also realised I hadn’t made up set lists for tonight’s show.

There’s lots to get done before I can get into the studio – we’ve got folks coming for dinner tomorrow and I’m planning to smoke a pork loin. I get a big dod of pork loin, trim off as much of the excess fat then make a bacon lattice, add some ‘Memphis dust’ rub and wrap the pork in the bacon. Ready for the smoker tomorrow πŸ™‚

In the studio I pull in all the audio files from Thursday’s show into ProTools. All’s good except that the sample rate of the stuff direct from the mixing desk is different to what we recorded with the stereo pair of mics out front…so after a few minutes the tracks are out of sync πŸ™

No time to work it all out now, so we sort some of the gear for the gig and had to Perth. We need to get there before 5pm so I can pick up any sales cash from the record store.

Next stop, the venue. We load in and Ewan soundchecks things…there’s a few setbacks (only one of the venue;s six DI boxes works!) and the stage is a bit rickety to say the least, but he’s on the case and does a grand job.

Lee arrives and soundchecks, we grab some pizza then doors open at 8pm..there’s a good wee crowd in when Lee kicks things off and by the time I’m onstage things have hotted up a bit. A steady stream of drams from Will, Catriona, Greig and Les keep me fuelled through out my set and there’s time, for a blether and a few drinks afterwards.

We drop Catriona and Will off on the way home, and roll up home sometime around 2am. Bed.

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

Lee opens the Perth show

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Thursday 2 February 2017

My pal Lee opens the Edinburgh show….

ANOTHER early start into Glasgow…glad I packed the gear for tonight’s show yesterday!

There’s quite a lot to get done in town before we head for Edinburgh, including a bunch of last minute online promo for the gig at the Voodoo Rooms. First stop when we get there is Lesley’s flat where we drop off some stuff and she comes with us to the venue.

There’s a fair bit of setting up to do. As well as the usual soundchecks and stuff, we’re recording the show to try and assess if it’s feasible tor us to make a release-quality live recording. We’re also videoing the show for good measure.

Sandy from Edinburgh’s Channel7A is waiting for us – they want to stream a special piece live from my soundcheck and, I think, planning on reviewing the show.

Once we’re done, Lee soundchecks and everything;s ready in time for doors opening at 8pm. Phew!

There’s a great crowd in – lots of pals and familiar faces from past gigs…and lots of new faces too.

Both Lee and I have a show…I’m pretty knackered after my 90-minute set tho’ – my last gig was mid-December in Dundee and I struggle a wee bit physically even if, I hope, the audience is unaware. Must get match fit!

There’s lots of drinking and chatting after the show and it;s well after midnight when we load out and head back to Lesley’s where we drink wine and whisky, eat pizza and all sorts of stuff and chat ’til after 3am.

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

I’m pretty knackered after my 90-minute set!

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Wednesday 1 February 2017

The Live at Five team at STV….

NOT too an early a start…but we still need to get to STV’s studios in Glasgow soon after 11am.

STV is starting to feel a little like a home-from-home. Innes comes to meet us in reception and Murray and Dot are on the studio floor getting everything ready to pre-record my two songs for tonight’s Live at Five.

Given the name of the show, it does seem a little weird that the music isn’t live – but it’s only recently it’s been  pre-recorded…the first couple of times I was on it really was live. No problem for me, but a little nerve-wracking that a broken string or some other technical mishap could really fuck things up.

My two new songs – Givers & Takers and 1923 – are both recorded in one take and before we know it we;re packing up, chatting with the crew and then off for some shopping.

There’s some stuff to be dropped off at Betty and Joe’s and we stop for a coffee and a quick chat then head home.

Not only have I to deal with a load of social media stuff around the STV show going out at 5pm and tomorrow’s gig, I need to sort a set list, rehearse, re-string guitars, print ‘forthcoming gig’ postcards and sort all the gear to record (audio and video) tomorrow’s (Thursday) Edinburgh show.

We take a break to watch Live at Five in between times…then it’s suddenly 9pm and I embark on the black pepper tofu for dinner…

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

Pre-record of two songs for tonight’s Live at Five show on STV

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Monday 23 January 2017

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 http://www.facebook.com/davearcarimusic

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

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Friday 20 January 2017


Scottish shows info/trailer video…click above to watch!

THERE’S a note in the diary that the episode of Julia Bradbury’s Best British Walks featuring yours truly is airing on ITV tonight. I spend a while spreading some ‘hints’ around Facebook, Twitter etc.

With an upcoming session of STV’s Live at Five – Wednesday 1 February, 5pm – I run through the new songs I’m planning on performing and rehearse a few more for good measure.

Mikey arrives mid-afternoon – he’s coming through for the night so Margaret can deal with his accounts and get his tax return done in time.

I’m planning a Facebook video ad to promote the upcoming Scottish shows – but before I can make the ad, I have to create the video…just a short piece to camera.

Half an hour back in the studio with some minor editing and I have a wee clip to upload along with the gig dates/info. Although it’s destined to be an ad, I upload it now to get some traction before throwing some cash at an ad campaign.

Betty pops round with info for us and we have a drink and watch Julia Bradbury’s Best British Walks – despite her questionable (but understandable) pronunciation of some of the place names, the half hour show is a fatastic depiction of our area…and the closing segment with Margaret watching yours truly playing Loch Lomond outside the local coffee shop has survived the threat of the cutting room floor!

After dinner we chat and I set up the Facebook video ad. Rather than promoting (or ‘boosting’) single Facebook events, we’ve found we get much better results and more bang for our buck by having an ad direct to a landing page on my website. And video ads have a much higher success rate than standard ads on Facebook πŸ™‚
 

A quick search found the above clip from Julia Bradbury’s Best British Walks online! Click the image to watch the segment featuring yours truly πŸ™‚

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

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Friday 13 January 2016

IT CERTAINLY is ‘Friday the 13th’ – either that or I got out the wrong side of bed this morning.

First up, I’m getting security notifications when visiting my website. The SSL certificate I installed the other day seems to be creating more problems than it solves. I raise a support ticket with my hosting company to see if they can shed any light on things.

Second – our broadband speed has gone from poor to virtually unusable.

And thirdly – to cap it all – my tour dates aren’t showing up on my website. I use bandsintown to populate my tourdates page and, (I’m assuming) after yesterday’s WordPress update to version 4.7.1, something has happened.

I try a few edits and changes but nada. No solution. My bandsintown page and everything is OK so it must be something to do with the WordPress update that’s preventing the content showing when embedded in my own website. My Google ads ain’t showing up either but that’s no real loss.

Nothing I try wants to fix it so i end up creating a new tourdates page that will suffice until I work oiut what’s gone wrong – or WordPress, bandsintown or someone posts a ‘fix’ or update.

That’s the day all but gone. Dealing with shit. Not a single thing on my to-do list even looked at. I fiond myself wondering how everyone else manages to deal with all this crap. Firefighting.

I spend a couple of hours archiving and organising hard drives in the studio before throwing in the towel for the night and conjuring up a  green curry.

On a more positive note, though, following my meeting with Google the other day, Ekaterina’s advice has already resulted in my site coming up on the front page of search results for the three keywords we chose πŸ™‚

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

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Tuesday 10 January 2017

I have a productive one-to-one meeting at Google’s Digital Garage event in Glasgow…

WE HEAD into Glasgow early. Margaret’s got stuff all day…and I have a mentor meeting with Google.

I drop Margaret off then stop in McDonald’s for a coffee. Nothing to eat ‘cos I’m skint!

My Google meeting is part of Google’s Digital Garage event….a one-to-one mentor meeting about reaching a niche audience online.

My idea was to park a few miles away and walk to the Mitchell Library, but I’m running late and there’s no ‘free’ parking with a few miles…so I park up in Berkeley Street and use the Ringo app on my phone to pay for my parking.

I get into the library and find registration where I run into my pal music journo John Dingwall. He;s here for a seminar, so we chat until he;s called in…and I wait patiently for my one-to-one. For nearly half an hour. No matter, tho’ – the receptionist realises and apologies profusely for having me wait then introduces me to an extremely helpful and knowledgeable lady called Ekaterina who runs though my website and comes up with a bunch of things I can do to boost my search engine rankings. We have a good, interesting chat..and it’s important to point out that she isn’t a Google employee, she’s a freelancer and, as such, giving impartial, good advice πŸ™‚

One of the things I should be doing more is using my name – Dave Arcari, I guess! – and my music style – alternative blues or alt.blues – in more blog posts and throughout my website. I’ve a busy few days ahead, but will get her ideas put into action over the next week or so.

There’s probably still time to get some great tips from these folks – check Google’s Digital Garage out here.

I’m pretty happy until I go outside and find a parking ticket. On investigation, I must’ve put the car’s reg wrongly into the app and got a digit wrong. FFS. Hopefully I can appeal.

Next stop is the Scottish Music Centre where I drop off some posters for my upcoming Glasgow show at the Hug & Pint on Saturday 10 February…I say hello to everyone, have a quick chat with Sace, then go on my way.

At Love Music I drop off some posters and check CD/vinyl stock –some sales cash comes my way too, which is more than likely to save my ass!

The shopping – Costco, Tesco – before picking up Margaret and heading home.

We unpack the shopping then I wander along to Betty and Joe’s who have asked me to do a wee job for them… a glass or two of wine later and I walk home.

Dinner. Parking ticket appeal. Whisky. Email. Early night….I have a 7am call for filming in Glasgow tomorrow…

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