We recently caught up with Scottish songwriter and blues troubadour Dave Arcari for a chat about life under lockdown, his new single, and his love of cooking.
FT: How has life has been treating you under lockdown? Did you have to change your plans for 2020?
DA: Good and bad, I guess… The bad is that we spent three or four months with no income booking tours and shows that are all either cancelled or re-scheduled; Finland, Estonia, and two USA tours plus a few UK dates, and a load of festivals. On the upside, I’ve had time to get some new stuff written, demoed, and recorded as well as having time to contribute guitar parts to an NHS fundraising single which was a nice thing to be able to do.
FT: How have you found the virtual gigs and what’s has the feedback been like from fans?
DA: The livestream shows have been a real lifesaver – not just financially, but for my own sanity too. They’re also helping me stay “match fit”. I do a lot of livestream updates and informal stuff but have been keeping the “concerts” to a minimum. I think once a month is probably more than enough. The enthusiasm and support from fans old and new has been overwhelming.
I’ve done two full concert livestreams so far and have another scheduled for 1st June 2020. It’ll be a bit different and feature a special (unlikely ever to be repeated live or otherwise) set of songs that influenced me when I was starting out playing guitar and busking on the streets of Glasgow, long before I got into blues or discovered bottleneck.
FT: I’ve noticed you partaking of the occasional glass of your favourite whisky during the online shows. Does that help you relax when there’s no audience to work off?
DA: It does. It’s a nice way to keep things real and I like to try and share my passion for whisky, especially Smokehead which has been really supportive.
FT: You’ve just released a new single. What were the inspirations behind it?
DA: ‘Stick To Your Guns’ was actually inspired by Smokehead although the subject matter is fairly ambiguous and could just as likely be about a person, partner, or your favourite dram. It follows 2018’s ‘Whisky Trail’ single that tells the story of Glengoyne, our local distillery and sister company to Smokehead. So I guess you could say whisky plays a big part in things. Then there’s ‘Nine Pound Hammer’ which drops (not physically, thank fuck… that might hurt) on 15th May 2020. It’s a traditional Americana number and although I’m not much of a covers guy, it’s a song I’d often messed about with and it just felt the right time to record it.
FT: Will there be a new Dave Arcari Album this year?
DA: I expect so. With all the changes in the music industry, I’ve been focussing on reasonably regular digital releases. I’ll likely do another couple then take them along with some other tracks that haven’t appeared on studio albums and hopefully a couple more brand new ones and re-record the lot for a new studio album. I’d hope to release it in physical formats too but we’ll need to see how cash flow is looking when we get out the other end of this shitstorm.
FT: Away from the music, you have a passion for cooking. How did that come about and does that help you unwind from the business side of making music?
DA: Oh yes! Food has always been a big thing for me. I suspect some of my passion for cooking came from my mum who did a cookery programme for the BBC in the early and mid-1960s. I was given all sorts of weird shit to eat as a kid – especially for breakfast but that’s another story – so I developed a fairly eclectic palate. Combine that with my natural curiosity and DIY ethic and that’s where my obsession starts.
Generally, I’ll taste something and think “fuck, I’ve gotta learn to make this” – bao buns, pho, ramen, Thai, Japanese, and especially BBQ. I had my first proper Cherrywood smoked ribs on my first USA tour back in 2013. We were taken to Puckett’s Grocery in Leiper’s Fork outside Nashville and these ribs changed my life. When we got back from that tour there was a smoker waiting on the doorstep…
FT: Thanks for your time. Stay safe and I hope to see you back on a stage soon.
DA: Thanks man. See you soon.
‘Nine Pound Hammer’ is available to pre-order via the Dave Arcari website now.