Wednesday 4 April 2018

An impromptu song at last year’s Red Rooster Festival caught by Bopflix Films’ Chris Magee. Click to watch!

MORE things than usual to be dealt with before breakfast…lots of emails and some stuff for the local community trust.

After my porridge I allow myself a bit of the cornbread I made yesterday…my first attempt and we’re amazed at (a) how well it worked and (b) how good it tastes! It’s on the menu as a compulsory side for all future BBQ.

I accompany Margaret on the second session of her new fitness regime – I;m impressed at her enthusiasm and determination despite the rain.

In the studio I do a Facebook livestream as part of today’s songwriting studio session. Keen to give folks an insight into my songwriting process/progress and get some feedback as the new song develops. It works well and there’s lots of interaction and enthusiasm. People seem to like it 🙂

After lunch I get busy with some stuff in the office, taking a break when Betty and Joe drop by for a coffee. Then it’s back into the studio for some more guitar noodling…and some banjo.

The rain’s off, so time for a wee walk. Been having problems with podcasts stopping and restarting at the beginning and thought it was because of the lack of signal, but the podcasts are downloaded to my iPhone. Research suggests it could be a short in the earbuds’ cable making the phone think the earbuds were being unplugged and therefore stopping the podcast…just to start again when it thinks they’re re-connected.

That figures, as the problem is always when I put the phone in my pocket. I wiggle the cable/connector and sure enough, the podcast starts, stops, resets…time for some bluetooth earbuds methinks.

Back home I see Bopflix Films has released a video they made of me playing an impromptu unplugged song at last years’ Red Rooster Festival. Bopflix‘s Chris Magee filmed my Blues Kitchen Sessions in London a few years ago and is a master of the ‘single shot’ video shoot and he’s done it again with this wee video. I really like his style. See it at the top of the blog or click here.

Saturday 26 August 2017

Great to see Trev and Emma at Hardtail Blues Festival 🙂

THERE’S a few things to get done in the office then we pack the gear and merch and hit the road.

We’ve a 300-odd mile drive to heather in Leicestershire where I’m playing at the Hardtail Blues Festival. 

Margaret’s not feeling great so, unusually, I do most of the driving. We get to the festival site by around 4pm and load in.

It’s a small festival, but good facilities and everyone’s friendly. Our pal Trev is playing here tomorrow, but we’re delighted to find that he and his partner Emma have come a day early. Great to catch up 🙂

My 75-minute set seems to go by in a  flash and at the mercy table I’m pleasantly surprised by the interest in the new vinyl.

After I’ve tidied up my gear we have something to eat and a few drinks while watching Dr Feelgood. The organiser has booked us a B&B two or three miles away…a kinda weird place, but I’m full of beer and don’t pay much attention….zzzzzzzzzz.

Great time at Hardtail Blues Festival 🙂

Dr Feelgood…not quite the same without Wilko and Lee Brilleaux,but good band nonetheless…

Saturday 12 August 2017

Amazing time at Old Cars, Rocking People Festival in Belgium 🙂

OOPS…we’ve slept in for breakfast by 1/2-hour!

No problem, tho’…we’re welcomed by an incredible spread of food and we have a lovely breakfast 🙂

The festival doesn’t  open ’til 1pm, so there’s a few ours to get some work done. I create a new landing page for the website and some new Facebook banners for upcoming gigs. It;s kinda cool to be able to have video banners on Facebook pages now…but they only seem to work on desktop 🙁

We get to the festival site around 2pm and are given food, vouchers, drinks tokens and more than enough hospitality to get us through the day, let alone the next few hours.

The weather’s kinda patchy ad the first live music is from Belgian rockabillys the Swampboys. They play he outdoor stage and we’re given the choice of playing in the  big tent or outside….we reckon inside is the best bet and it’s a good choice!

The sound guys are great and the sound, by all accounts, is awesome! I have an absolute blast then spend some time at merch before going backstage to clear up.

We have more food, beer and then head outside to watch USA band the Screamin’ Rebel Angels…thankfully the rain’s off for their outdoor stage set. 

Backstage, we take care of business then say cheerio and head back to the hotel. Knackered. Magic day out 🙂

Swampboys kick off the live music at Old Cars, Rocking People Festival




Screamin’ Rebel Angels

Friday 11 August 2017

Waiting for the movie to start…

A RELATIVELY early start and we leave Ponnie’s and Eastbourne to make our way to Ashford.

We get there with plenty of time to spare and go for some lunch…but as we get to the international rail terminal I get the booking papers out and Margaret realises we should be at Folkestone for the Eurotunnel. No idea why she thought we were leaving from Ashford!

She gets a little flustered but here’s plenty time and it’s only another 10/15 miles, so no need to panic

We get t Folkestone and through security and passport controls in good time and soon we’re driving through France on our way into Belgium.

The festival folks have booked us into a hotel about four miles from the festival site but we don’t have a name or address so we make our way to the site and find the booker, An, who makes us most welcome and gives us all our passes and info…as well as the hotel info.

Joe Dirt on the big screen.

The festival starts this evening, but no live music. Instead, a drive-in movie, so we drop our stuff at the hotel where we’re welcomes with a Belgian beer and then make our way back to the festival site.

Margaret’s done all the driving so far, so I go easy on the beer and am happy to drive back after the movie. There’s loads of cars arriving for the drive-in…many of them very cool old American cars.

We have burgers, popcorn and watch the movie – Joe Dirt. I think the film’s pretty crap, but Margaret enjoys it and these kind of events are more about the whole vibe and sense of occasion. The film is secondary!

Back at the hotel we have a glass (or two) of wine and snack before bed….then zzzzzzzzz….

At the drive-in…burgers and wine before the movie

We leave Ponnie’s lovely seafront flat in Eastbourne and head for Belgium

Sunday 30 July 2017

MugStock! And luckily it stayed dry for my set 🙂

UP early! Gotta get everything sorted and hit MugStock Festival by midday.

My stage time on the main stage isn’t ’til 4.25pm, but we have to get parked up, loaded in and all sorted out.

Old pal Paul Henry greets us when we check in at artist liaison and takes us over to meet stage manager Dave Boardman,…another pal we know from his days booking acts (including yours truly) at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge. The world is shrinking very quickly!

An impromptu performance for Oxjam at their pop-up stage!

We hang out and watch some of the early afternoon music and are about to go for something to eat when a lassie comes and asks “are you Dave Arcari?”. Yup! Apparently I’m expected on the Oxjam stage for a few number like, now! I had said I;d be up for playing a few songs for them but no-one ever got back confirming anything, let alone day or time. No worries – we rescue a guitar from backstage and race to the wee pop-up Oxjam stage, plug in and rattle out three or four songs for them. Impromptu, but fun.

Oddly, most of the bands have been selling merch from the front of the stage, but that’s not much good in the rain and I hae to clear my gear of the stage pretty quick for the next act to get set up…plus, we’ve to hand over a prize bottle of Glengoyne, Dave Arcari t-shirt and CD to the Glengoyne prizewinner…and have a dram with her. Arrangements had been made during the week that we could do it in the beer tent opposite the stage, but when we took stuff in there earlier, the girl running the bar was pretty short (actually, bluddy rude) with us and basically said no, we couldn’t!

Luckily the MugStock folks came in and got everything sorted out.

So…back in the main arena after the Oxjam thing, Margaret gets  a table set up for the merch and I go backstage to get ready for my set. The weather on Saturday was awful, but has been OK today…and luckily it’s dry throughout my set. The stage crew and engineers are brilliant and I have blast…and it’s lovely that the crowd came forward and endured the mud at the front of the stage 🙂 

I quickly clear the stage and rush up to the beer tent and the merch table to meet the Glengoyne competition winner and hand over her prizes. Margaret takes some pixs and we have a few drams 🙂

My cousin John and his wife Pam are there and press a beer into my hand. Lovely to see them and other folks drop past to check out merch and say hello.

I have to go and shift my stuff from the backstage storage area to free up some space for acts coming in later, so we say cheerio to everyone and get everything to the car. We’ve had a great time, but we’re pretty knackered so nip back to the mail arena, exchange our meal vouchers for some grub then hit the road.

We’re home, unpacked and chilling with a drink by 8pm. Phew. What a day 🙂

Glengoyne compo winner Deirdre picks up her winnings at the merch table

Friday 30 June 2017

First of two Almost Blue Festival shows – Church, Dundee

ANOTHER early start to get Ted and Laurie into Glasgow for their train to London – glad we didn’t drink too much last night!

Once I’ve dropped our guests off I pick up a bunch of new-design t-shirts – and a couple of experimental hoodies – from Kenny at T-Shirt Cat in Dennistoun. Good to have them in time for tonight and tomorrow’s Almost Blue festival shows in Dundee.

When I get home there’s time to get a little work done, including putting the new shirts on sale on the online store then I pack the gear and we make for Dundee, pick up house keys from Alison who we’re staying with, then load in at the venue.

Engineer Lee greets us at Church and soundcheck’s done in a jiffy so there’s plenty time to go and get some grub in a nearby pub. After the excess of the last week – and the likely over-indulgence later tonight and tomorrow – we go for the healthy options. Chicken caesar salad for Margaret and I opt for a quinoa salad with grilled halloumi. And a bottle of water.

Back at the venue, The Good Doctor kick things off. They’re followed by VFLambda who play a brilliant set – haven’t heard them before, but we really like them.

Then yours truly takes the stage for a 90-minute, whisky-fuelled set. After chatting with folks round the merch table we load out and go back to Alison’s for pizza and red wine then crash.

VFLambda play an awesome set

Saturday 3 June 2017

Filming an acosutic session for the festival…

IT’S roasting in the tent when we wake up…a good thing, in a way, as it means it’s nice weather!

We make breakfast outside then catch up on some emails and other bits and bobs of work – looks like there’s some shows sorted for Latvia and Estonia in October 🙂

We’re not long tidied up when the festival programmer comes for a chat, then Chris from Bopflix films stops by. He filmed my Blues Kitchen sessions in London a while back.

Chris is filming for the festival and as well as catching on-stage performances, he’d keen to film some acoustic sessions around the festival site. We find a spot and record an acoustic version of See Me Laughing.

We hang out and catch more music then take a wander up to the Howling Woods DJ spot where our pal Joe Cushley is spinning some tunes.

On the way back to the net we redeem our food tokens and pick up some really good burritos then rest up for a while.

At 7pm a buggy comes to pick us and the gear up and takes us to the stage where we unload backstage and hang out ’til my 8.40pm stage time. Engineer Chris and stage manager Perry do a great job…the crowd is awesome and I have a blast. It;s nice catching up with folks at the merch table…some of whom have seen me before.

Our pal Ian is on after me – just as he starts the buggy comes to take us and the gear back to the artists’ campsite and once everything’s put away we rush back and catch the last few songs of Ian’s set. He’s the final act on the Red Rooster stage. We hang out and chat for a while then make our way to see the final act on the other stage….

Breakfast time

On stage at the Red Rooster festival…

…then Ian Siegal closes the stage

Friday 2 June 2017

We get the tent up in the artists’ camping area

UP early and we get all the camping gear packed into the car…glad I got all the music stuff in last night 🙂

We hit the road for the 400+ mile trip to the Red Rooster Festival near Thetford. A couple of stops for coffee, grub and shopping and we get on site just after 7pm.

Thankfully the rain stays off while we get the tent up in the artists camping area. We have a quick bite to eat and a beer then make our way to the Little Red Rooster stage where I play tomorrow (Saturday – 8.40pm) and on to the main stage to watch Cale Tyson and bump into our pal Joe Cushley who’s DJ-ing tomorrow.

We nip bag to the artist campsite for ‘the toilet’ and to recharge our glasses then back to the Little Red Rooster stage where we watch Robert Chaney. Brilliant.

Back at the tent we have a snack and a wee dram before snuggling up in our sleeping bags…

Cale Tyson is amazing…

…and great to bump into our pal Joe Cushley

Robert Chaney rounds our night off at the Little Red Rooster stage

Tuesday 30 May 2017

INTO Glasgow this morning. The usual routine – drop Margaret off and stop at McDonald’s for coffee and wifi!

I’m on a mission today. Having researched a bit on how best to make promo downloads of my forthcoming Live at Memorial Hall album I decide to give Soundcloud a tryout. I already use Soundcloud to provide the audio samples/downloads on my website but have never really examined the possibilities. For the last two albums I’ve used Bandcamp and promo codes, but it’s a bit of a fanny dance responding to requests by allocating and sending individual download codes.

For last year’s Hellbound Train EP and the recent Live EP I”ve hosted the downloads on my website and directed media to an ‘unlisted’ download page where they fill in their name, publication/radio show and email address in a form..when the form is submitted my system automatically sends an email with a link to download the promo stuff in a zipped folder.

Benefits of Bandcamp are you see who actually redeemed the download codes but that’s offset by the limited number of codes you can generate and the already mentioned fanny dance with all the admin. The self-hosted thing worked well but, on research, had a couple of drawbacks.

First, some media/recipients might not be comfortable downloading a zipped folder from what is essentially an unknown – and therefore probably untrusted – source. Also, there is no way to preview the tracks/release so the recipient has to commit to downloading the lot without knowing what it’s like.

Soundcloud offers a neat way around all these drawbacks at the expense, I think of some of the data…but the paid for (pro account – only £45 a year) option does promise some kind of data/analytics. I tidy up my existing Soundcloud accounts (I have a few!) and upgrade one to ‘pro’.

The fast wifi at McDonalds allows me to get all 26 tracks uploaded as 320k MP3s by the time I’ve finished my coffee 🙂

Next stop is Silverburn to pick up a couple of things we need for our camping at this weekend’s Red Rooster Festival where I play on Saturday night.

The wifi at Silverburn is crap, but back at the car I have a full 4G signal so tether the Macbook to my phone and manage to upload the same tracks as uncompressed .wav file versions – I want to be able to give folks the option of downloading 320k MP3 or WAV files.

I have time for a wee walk before I get some shopping and pick up Margaret before heading to the Scottish Music Centre for a meeting about the industry/media launch event for Live at Memorial Hall. We have a productive meeting and all looks good. Planning is everything!

Next stop is Costco for some more shopping and bite to eat before we go to Glasgow’s Citizen M hotel for a networking event co-hosted by the SMIA (Scottish Music Industry Association) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited). We spend a good couple of hours catching up with folks and drinking beer (well I do – Margaret’s driving!)…great event, great evening 🙂

Thursday 30 March 2017

HERE’S someone travelling from south of the border to try out the Lowden guitar I have for sale.

They reckon they’ll be here around midday so meantime I get some work done, them make a bacon weave for the pork loin I’m gonna smoke for our dinner guests tomorrow night. The bacon weave is always a bit of a fuddle, but I get a rub on the pork and get the bacon wrapped round ready for the smoker tomorrow.

Big news of the day is that, at midday, we can announce that I’m playing the Red Rooster Festival in Suffolk at the start of June. The festival is announcing the lineup at the same time and has created graphics and content for me to use on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc…I’m impressed.

The guy coming to see the  guitar – who’s making a 450-mile trip – arrives and checks out the guitar. he plays it, puts it down, asks questions, plays it again for the next hour. He’s not quite sure, hums and haws, plays it again then offers me £100 less than the asking price, saying that’s all the cash he has. 

Now the guy had asked the method of payment the night before and was in doubt of the asking price and that there would be ‘no deals of exchanges’. 

I explain I need the full price, in cash. He clearly has no intention of paying the asking price and must think my head zips up the back. I manage to remain polite, despite him wasting an hour of my time, and show him the door. You’d have thought he’d either’ve paid the price if he wanted the guitar – or not if he didn’t – especially when making a 450-mile round trip.

Once he’s gone I make some lunch and message some of the other folks interested via Gumtree and Facebook. A Gumtree guy calls and arranges to come tomorrow morning then, just as I;m about to nip out for a walk, someone on Facebook who I’ve been chatting with asks if he can come early evening. Of course!

I go my walk, stop in to help Joe with some stuff then get home in time for the potential buyer arriving.

He’s come from Lanarkshire and brought his girlfriend. We know lots of folks in common,  all hit it off immediately and end up hanging together until after 11pm. Oh, and he buys the guitar. Cash. No problem. We’ve made some new friends into the bargain 🙂

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Yorkston Thorpe Khan play a magical set at Creative Scotland's reception in Edinburgh

Yorkston Thorpe Khan play a magical set at Creative Scotland’s reception in Edinburgh

WE’RE off into Glasgow early.

I drop Margaret off for her meetings and stop to grab a quick sausage and egg McMuffin en route to see Rab and Stephy.

After a coffee and a blether I help Stephy with some Mac stuff then we discuss ideas for her new website that I’m gonna put together.

I’ve got some bits and bobs to do – first at Braehead, then Costco where I get some shopping…and a hotdog – before picking Margaret up at 2pm.

Next stop, Edinburgh, where we’re headed for Creative Scotland’s reception at Central Hall – a gathering of creative types to celebrate Edinburgh Festival and the fringe with live music from Yorkston Thorne Khan.

We – and I would suspect James Yorkston too – are annoyed by the level of chat in the room when they play their first short set. There’s doubtless a lot of people here who haven’t seen each other in ages, but there’s plenty time to chat before and after while enjoying the free-flowing bubbly and snacks…so there’s no need to chatter loudly and blatantly ignore what is an amazing performance.

The gathered folks slowly start paying more attention during the ‘speeches’ and, thankfully when James and his cohorts take to the stage for a few more songs, due respect is paid.

A nice evening out with great music and the chance to catch up with friends old and new.

Thursday 28 July 2016

We enjoy a beer with Martin before tonight's show at the yacht club....

We enjoy a beer with Martin before tonight’s show at the yacht club….

AFTER breakfast at the yacht club we go back to the room and get some work done…no show ’til tonight. My last show in Parnu.

Our pal Martin’s staying on a  yacht moored at the club’s marina. I meet him and we take a walk into town to the supermarket and get some supplies while Margaret gets some other bits and bobs done in the room.

The main stage music at the yacht club kicks off at 5pm – but they only just start rigging the PA at 4pm, so I rather doubt anything will start on time.

After last night;s food fiasco Martin and I booked a table for the three of us for 6pm. They say service is still an hour-and-a-half so we worked back from our ‘would like to to eat at’ time of 7.30pm.

We get our table, have a beer and we’re served our food by 6.30pm….oh, and the band that was meant to start at 5pm has only just started. The usual Parnu chaos.

My stage time’s 9pm – with just one and after me, my pal Al’s new band Cathouse Radio. Meantime, we go back to Martin’s yacht and enjoy a beer in the cooling breeze.

When we get back across to the yacht club, Al’s there so we have a beer and catch up…and wonder when we’ll actually take the stage. Margaret asks one of the organisers who shrugs her concern off, saying they can have live music ’til midnight and there’s probably half hour leeway after that.

Despite everything running late, some of the bands have already overplayed they’re originally allocated time…absolutely no stage management or organisation whatsoever.

As the band before me concludes their over-run set, I ask the sound engineer – and one of the main organisers’ sons – if they need me to cut my hour-long set. He asks if I can cut it to 40 minutes – that’s OK by me…but weird I have to go to them to initiate the proposal!

There’s a lot of folks we know here tonight and many are getting a bit annoyed at how long things are over-running…my 9pm stage time is now looking more like 10.45pm and they’ve been waiting for a long time. A lot of them have brought us gifts too!

I kick of my amended set…and I’m just 30-minutes in when the other main ‘organiser’ comes to the stage and tells me my current song is the last one! No warning. That’s fucking out of order…not only would I have completely re-organsied my chosen songs, but I don’t even get the chance to say thank you to the audience over the mic…I just come to a stop. I’m furious. I’d have been prepared to cut my set by another ten minutes to 30 minutes if I’d known…

The anger is diluted by so many folks coming to shake hands and stopping me for photos, but still….

The piece-de-resistance comes when Margaret goes to get a drink but comes back two minutes later covered in blood and with a handful of teeth. She’s tripped over a cut stump of pipe sticking out the ground and landed smack on her face. I immediately take her indoors where the yacht club staff call an ambulance and help us deal with the situation.

Luckily Martin is still with us – a fluent English speaker he’s an invaluable translator when the ambulance folk come in, Luckily I’d grabbed our European health cards when i rushed some gear back to the room while we were waiting for the ambulance. Off we go to emergency at the local hospital which seems to be totally empty.

Margaret manages to stay calm and uncomplaining through the whole thing and gets a couple of stitches in the hole where her tooth came through her top lip and told to take some paracetamol. There’s no dental people at the hospital and we’re instructed to go to the city’s main dental place first thing in the morning…it opens at 8am.

Luckily Martin is driving us to Tartu tomorrow  (Friday) and is happy to leave at 7am to get to the dental place early….

It's after 1am when we get back to the yacht club and poor Margaret's still not complained about her accident....

It’s after 1am when we get back to the yacht club and poor Margaret’s still not complained about her accident….but that’s gonna hurt (even more) in the morning 🙁

Wednesday 27 July 2016

First show of the day at Versa in the town centre...

First show of the day at Versus in the town centre…

WE’RE up in time for breakfast at the yacht club….watermelon, cheese, cold meat, bread and lots of coffee. 

The temperature’s through the roof again today and I have two shows. One at 3pm at Versus, then a main stage show at the yacht club tonight.

Luckily we were able to leave the gear and merch at Versus after last night’s show so we don’t have to carry anything in the heat. We have lunch and watch the opening acts then I take the stage for a 45-minute set, trying to play a different set from the one I played last night.

I hadn’t been expecting many folks at a mid-week afternoon show and although not as busy as last night, the place is still full and I have a great show. I’m soaked through, though – we get a cab back to the yacht club for a cold shower and hang my clothes up to dry (hopefully) in time for tonight’s show.

We chill for the rest of the afternoon then meet our pal Martin for dinner while the yacht club main stage is rigged for the show. There’s just myself and a local support act tonight – the ‘big’ show is tomorrow (Thursday) night.

We’d hoped to have dinner in the restaurant, but the place is so busy there’s no chance of eating before I play at 10pm! There’s a pizza/fast food place at the yacht club too so we order there….Margaret’s fish and chips turns out to be two fish fingers but then,m what can you expect for €4. My veggie pizza is kinda bizarre…a cheese-fest topped with a few slices of red peppers and at least half a jar of pickled onions. Pickles onions? On a pizza? Yup!

The support act is possibly the weirdest support act I’ve ever had, but they warm up the crowd then I get ready. That’s when the festival folks realised they forgot to set up any lights, so they hastily rig some lights while I set up gear  – not sure which is worse – playing in the dark, or having the lights cook me alive and attract what seems to be every mosquito within miles of the place. I’m hot, sweaty and bitten to fuck – but the crowd’s great and the whisky dulls the pain.

...and then the main stage at the yacht club :-)

…and then the main stage at the yacht club 🙂

Tuesday 26 July 2016


On stage at Versus, Parnu...blues fest underway!

On stage at Versus, Parnu…blues fest underway!

WE’RE pretty gubbed when we wake up…and we’ve slept in a bit.

Not to worry, we;re soon up, dressed and on our way to Versus – ‘the blues cafe’ – the venue for today’s kick off shows for Parnu Blues Festival.

We need something to eat and rock’n’roll piano man Louie Digman is playing at 2pm. We eat, watch Louis and then our pals form the Parnu Blues Club band. Great to catch up.

It’s blisteringly hot and sweaty and we’re glad of the zircon at the shopping centre when we stop at the supermarket for some supplies – wine, beer, whisky…and some fruit.

Back at the hotel we rest up for a while then  make our way back to Versus with the gear. My show isn’t ’til 9pm but we need to get there in time for loading in and changeovers.

The band on before me is Joensuu Riihimäki from Finland. Frontman Sami suddenly asks me up to sing with him on  Dylan’s I Shall Be Released….jeez…don’t know all the words but we busk it anyway and it’s all done in the spirit of the moment! The guys put on a  great show and are one of the most refreshing bands we’ve seen in a  while.

There’s a capacity crowd in the room – and a lot of folks we know from previous Estonia trips…Seppo and Marina, author Toomas Raudam (who brings us a big punnet of raspberries from his garden) and a load of musicians 🙂

The place is packed, there’s two guys filming the whole thing with about eight cameras, a few photographers and it;s boiling hot….I’m soaking before I’ve even hit the first note!

The crowd is fantastic and I have a real blast…plenty whisky keeps me going until the end when I collapse in a heap backstage. Not time to rest though – folks to talk to and a stage to be cleared.

Once we’re done we find a nice quiet restaurant and relax over a belated dinner before heading back to yacht club for a last dram then bed. Some day.

Sami and Joensuu Riihimaki   get me up on stage to help out on I Shall be Released....

Sami and Joensuu Riihimaki get me up on stage to help out on I Shall be Released….

With Finnish band Joensuu Riihimaki after the show – me, Mollu, Kari and Sami

With Finnish band Joensuu Riihimaki after the show – me, Mollu, Kari and Sami

Monday 25 July 2016

Phew. Despite all the setbacks we manage to get the Helsinki – Tallinn Ferry. Time for a beer. Or two.

Phew. Despite all the setbacks we manage to get the Helsinki – Tallinn Ferry. Time for a beer. Or two.

THE alarm goes off just before 2am. Three hours’ sleep…uuuurgh.

After a quick shower we pack the car, drive to Glasgow airport and checkin with KLM – looks like we’re good to get the guitars in the cabin…if there’s a problem they’ll check them at the gate.

It’s just after 5am and I’m getting hungry so I go find a coffee and a pulled pork sausage roll. Odd breakfast!

Our bags are checked all the way to Helsinki, so when we transfer at Schipol we only have to lug the guitars, my effects case and Margaret’s bag. We just have an hour to get off the plane, find the gate for the Helsinki flight and hot foot it. It’s a long walk, but luckily there’s trolleys.

The Helsinki flight’s full, so the guitars are checked at the gate, so at least we know they’re on the right plane. Sure enough, when we go to baggage reclaim, the guitars show up – but our two big bags don’t.

After a queue at baggage services tor report the missing cases we make for the train station and take a half-hour train ride into Helsinki centre. We realise that our bags being lost could be a blessing in disguise – guite how we’d manage to carry everything I don;t know…although we do have a folding trolley. In one of the lost cases!

At Helsinki station we follow the sign for taxis. None to be seen. We hang around for a while, but time to get to the harbour for the ferry’s tight. Margaret goes back into the station – no info desk, but someone at a burger shop says we need to go too the other exit. We pick up a cab, Margaret clearly tells the driver we’re going to Tallinn and need the Tallinn Terminal. Twice.

We don’t recognise the terminal, but the driver assures us this is correct. But it’s not. We’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, not a taxi in sight and half an hour to get to the ‘other’ terminal which is, at best, a good 20-minute cab ride away. If we miss this ferry we’re in deep shit!

A girl at the Viking Line desk the terminal calls us a taxi which rocks up. We have twenty minutes – the time of the journey – to get there, buy tickets, and check in.

Somehow we make it and collapse in a seat on the boat with a beer. Phew!

When we arrive in Tallinn a taxi takes us to the bus station where we board a bus for the two-hour bus ride to Parnu. The driver’s a bit of a fud and directs us to take the guitars on board. But there’s no place to put cases/bags/anything and we don’t want to take up extra seats on a busy bus. Eventually he reluctantly opens the boot and lets us – and a load of other folks – put our bags etc in. He just couldn’t be arsed!

I sleep all the way to Parnu where we get a taxi to the Yacht Club, check in and enjoy dinner and drinks outside as the sun goes down…it’s just after 10pm.

Someone from Tallinn airport calls to day our bags are there, but as KLM does’t fly to Tallinn, we have to arrange for the bags to be taken to Parnu. No way! Margaret tells them in no uncertain terms, so they get onto KLM and call her back to say OK…the bags will be sent (by taxi!) to us in Parnu at KLM’s expense. They should be here by morning.

In some perverse way, our bags getting lost has been a benefit….we would have had a nightmare trying to hump them along the way. Now if only we could have sneaked into that taxi too 😉

Saturday 2 July 2016

Great crowd at Clarks....

Great crowd at Clarks….

OOOFFFT…feeling pretty broken and busted this morning. Too much whisky, hard bed and generally knackered.

We head off to meet Susie for coffee in the centre of Dundee and have some lunch too. Nice to see her and catch up.

There’s some stuff we forgot to bring so we drop into Boots and Superdrug then make out way back to the hotel where I have a wee nap.

Load in at Clarks is at 5pm and Kit’s there to meet us and help us in. It’s a whole different world from last night – great room, top PA and an engineer!

By the time I kick off at 6pm the place is rammed. A faulty guitar takes the wind out my sails and I have to retune another, but the crowd doesn’t mind and I have a fantastic time playing. A great crowd and magic vibe throughout.

We’re fed after the show then we go for a drink to somewhere a but quieter with Catriona, Viv, Mike, Laura, Grant and some more pals.

A magic night apart form the fucked guitar. If there’s time tomorrow I’ll get hold of some tools and soldering iron and see if I can sort it out in time for the night-time shows. if not, back to retuning the back guitar!

Friday 24 June 2016

Four shows during Dundee's Almost Blue Festival next weekend

Four shows during Dundee’s Almost Blue Festival next weekend

A LITTLE more work to archive all my old accounts, then a blitz on organising the to-do list and everything else.

I mess around with Asana again and start pulling in all the tasks – not just from Trello, but also from the huge pile that’s been growing on the office desk..

Looks like my schedule for next weekend’s Almost Blue Festival in Dundee is sorted so I sort new artwork and do some work on promoting my shows.

By the end of the day I have cleared the office desk completely. Everything’s filed away or binned and all the tasks and bit of paper with notes transferred into Asana. Still a bit of work to do before we sit down on Monday and get organised, but at least the clutter has gone.

We have an early dinner as Barbara and Thorsten are stopping in for a drink later…

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Event organiser Pat Byrne is also one of the writers collaborating with songwriter Jim Byrne on  the Ten Writers Telling Lies  project

Event organiser Pat Byrne is also one of the writers collaborating with songwriter Jim Byrne on the Ten Writers Telling Lies project

WE’RE going to see a show in Glasgow this evening, so decide to kill as many birds with one stone as possible and head into the city early to make the most of the trip.

I drop Margaret off then hit a McDonalds for a sneaky breakfast, coffee and free wifi. I get a couple hours’ work done then leave before outstaying my welcome by too long.

Next stop, B&Q…then the Chinese cash and carry, Tesco and Costco before picking Margaret up just after 2pm.

We have a few more things to do through the afternoon before we make our way to the Siempre Bicycle Cafe beside Kelvin Hall underground just in time for our pals Jim and Pat Byrne’s Ten Writers Telling Lies show.

The cafe is a nice space for an event like this and there’s a good crowd in. Jim has collaborated with ten writers who’ve written pieces inspired by songs they’ve collaborated on – the evening starts with five of these writers reading their work. Now if anyone had told me I’d enjoy spoken word/poetry/prose I’d have said a big ‘no chance’...but I found myself being drawn into each section and really enjoying it. I guess I never really entertained the idea of listening rather than reading, but why not? Especially when it’s the writers themselves delivering their work. It was enlightening and inspiring.

The first half closes with Jim and friends performing the songs relating to the first set of stories. Magic.

After a break the same format second half is just as enjoyable. There’s another chance to see (and hear) Ten Writers Telling Lies at the West End Festival on Sunday afternoon (2.30pm at Tchaiovna House of Tea).

My only complaint is that the kitchen was closed and we didn’t get the chance to sample the cafe’s interesting looking menu….we’d planned to eat there but I have to make do with a few bottles of Birds & Bees ale. Margaret’s driving 😉

We’re starving by the time we leave, but it’s getting too late to think about going anywhere for a sit-down meal. Margaret suggests a chippy….oh well, we rarely eat that kinda stuff so what harm can it do just this once? I enjoy my  haggis supper and the remains of Margaret’s chips on the way home but can’t help feeling I’m gonna suffer in the morning…not because of the beer, but because of all the deep fried goodness!

A large dram when we get home should help my body break down the fat 😉

Jim Byrne and friends perform the songs that inspired the stories and poems....

Jim Byrne and friends perform the songs that inspired the stories and poems….

Saturday 11 June 2016

A fantastic finale to the Hellbound Train tour :-)

A fantastic finale to the Hellbound Train tour 🙂

WE have a lazy morning – recovery, I guess – at Lesley’s and after breakfast and catching up with some online stuff we pack the car and make our way to Glasgow.

It’s an easy load in at The Hug & Pint and nice to see engineer Doug who’s done my sound in the past in various Glasgow venues.

We’re set up and soundchecked when Lee arrives and gets set up…we have some grub then wait for doors opening at 7.30pm

The Hug & Pint used to be the Roxy 171 – and the Liquid Ship before that. With each reincarnation the venue has got better and now it’s the perfect space for a Dave Arcari show…not too big, monster PA, great engineer. Oh, and the food and beer is great too!

There’s a great crowd in, Lee plays a blinder and I have an amazing time playing, fuelled by the great crowd and maybe some beer and whisky too!

Lots of pals and folks we know in for the show and once we’ve packed up there’s time to hang out for a few drinks. A great finale to three hectic nights’ gigging.

Friday 27 May 2016

First live show in nearly four months...I manage to last the pace!

First live show in nearly four months…I manage to last the pace!

HAVE to be on the ball this morning. Quite a lot to get done before we hit the road south for this evening’s show at the Dubs in the Middle Festival near Evesham.

We fire through all the work needing done before we go, Margaret makes a couple of apple and rhubarb pies for the coffee shop and I get the gear ready and packed.

Meantime, Margaret sorts the merch, I take the pies off to the coffee shop and run along to Betty and Joe’s to drop something off.

We’re a little later leaving than we planned and it’s nearly 7pm when we check into our hotel then dash off to the festival site, load in then have a snack and a beer until it’s time to get set up.

Dubs in the Middle is a cracking family-friendly festival with an emphasis on…VW vans and campers. There’s a great atmosphere and I fire through my hour-long set….I’m pretty knackered by the end of it though – having not played a live show for nearly four months I’m not used to the physical workout. All the rehearsals in the world don’t prepare you for the live thing!

We’re back at the hotel before midnight and open a bottle of red and relax. Something tells me I’m gonna be sore in the morning!

Monday 25 April 2016

WEF_launch_PatAndJim - 1

Nice to catch up with our pals Pat and Jim at the West End Festival launch.

ANOTHER panic to get some stuff done before I get down to the village to take some snaps of cars taking part in the Scottish Malts rally. This is the first stop on the first day!

I get there and set up a vantage point to grab some pix of the cars driving into the village then run up to the car park for more pix and some video vox pops with drivers..all for the webzine.

Back home, though, the rally stuff needs to wait – I need to get my photo feature from yesterday’s Balfron 10k road race online and banded about.

As soon as I’m done we jump in the car for Glasgow. We’ve to pick up new glasses from the optician in Milngavie..I have new reading specs. ‘Clic’ frames that come apart in the middle and have a neck/head band. Only one step away from the dreaded ‘spex on a  chain’, but I can only afford one pair and it’s a desperate attempt to keep them handy. I hardly used my old readers ‘cos they were always in the other room…or out int eh office…or in the studio. Always in the place I wasn’t!

Next stop, post office to get a bunch of poster packs and tickets off to venues, record shops and other outlets then onto Costco and Tesco for some shopping.

I drop into the Hug & Pint with posters and flyers for my show there on 11 June before we head off to the Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens for the real reason for our trip into town…the launch of the West End Festival. The Hug & Pint show is part of the festival.

There’s drinks and some grub, but we stick to the booze as next stop is Hanoi Bike Shop which we booked earlier on. Just as well, ‘cos the place is mobbed. Catriona and Will gave me a voucher for the place – my current favourite place to eat in Glasgow – at Christmas. Put to good use tonight 🙂

We’re home soon after 10pm but no chance of an early night – too much work to catch up on after skiving all afternoon and evening!

Mmmm....dinner at my favourite Hanoi Bike Shop :-)

Mmmm….dinner at my favourite Hanoi Bike Shop 🙂


Friday 22 April 2016

Beer! Martyn, Macca,Kenny, Stuart, me and Jamie have a great day out in Paisley :-)

Beer! Martyn, Macca,Kenny, Stuart, me and Jamie have a great day out in Paisley 🙂

AN early-ish start after a late night…Martyn drops by first thing and we head to the coffee shop for breakfast with Stuart. We’re off to Paisley Beer Festival 🙂

After a hearty plate of grub we jump in Martyn’s van and head into Glasgow, After a brief stop at Martyn’s office to pick up Jamie we roll up at Paisely Town Hall where another pal Kenny meets us. Time for beer.

Next book club read...

Next book club read…

We spend the next six hours or so sampling from the huge range of ales then head off for some grub and a quick pub stop before Louise picks us up.

I’m dropped off back home in time for our local book club get together…after a year’s hiatus, we’re getting the group going again. While ‘the book’ is the catalyst for our get-togethers, it;s mostly about food, drink and chat. We don’t need much excuse to party around here! We do choose a book for our next piss-up….The Amber Keeper. Watch this space.

We roll back along the lochside sometime after 1am. Phew…that’s been a fair shift today!