Preview | Interview With Trash-Country-Rockabilly-Punk-Blues Man Dave Arcari who plays Belfast’s Out To Lunch Festival 20th January.
Words Cara Gibney | Photo Credit Gerry McNally
Slide guitarist and songwriter Dave Arcari may just be the progeny of an unholy union between the Reverend Dead Eye and Billy Connolly.
As a teenager, this progeny watched videos of his style icon Seasick Steve, and practiced guitar in his lonely room with his imaginary friend Robert Johnson. They finally all met at the crossroads on a wet Tuesday night in Glasgow. Who knows what happened during those negotiations, but the evidence remains that his guitar skills have been honed to suit the punk, the rockabilly, and the country music that burns in his belly as he rips the soul out of his inimitable, single-handed take on alt-blues.
On stage he roars. He poses on one leg, knee up, tongue out like some sort of Charlie Manson/Roger Daltry mash up. His guitar can all of a sudden play nice, suddenly become quiet, unexpectedly playing the chords gently like he’s talked them out of a tantrum. Then he’s back – gale force – howling, bawling, attention seeking. He’ll run backwards in confined spaces, barely stopping before he slaps into the backdrop. Mid-refrain he’ll start to dance with his national steel guitar grasped hard and his legs kicking. He’ll jump to the side of the stage and hold the guitar out to the crowd, playing it with his eyes closed and his face to the ceiling with his tongue out, silhouetted against the stage lights like a looming underworld blues entity.
At least that’s what happened last time he played Belfast in McHughs for Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival back in 2014. “Wow! I really liked that venue and the sound/engineer was brilliant,” he recalled when I asked him about it. “The thing that really sticks in my head, though, was the crowd – what a great bunch of folks came out to that show. [Before that] I played the Out To Lunch festival at the Black Box seven or eight years ago and remember that being a highlight at the time too. I love coming to Belfast!”
And he is returning for more later in the month with the Out To Lunch Festival. “I guess it’ll be more of the same at the Black Box – probably quite a few new songs and who knows – I might even play a couple of more mellow songs up my sleeve. We’ll have some fun.”
On the night he’ll be playing songs from his albums including last year’s Live at Memorial Hall. It’s a live album, he told me. “[It] is almost a definitive collective collection. 24 of my – and some of my audiences’ – favourite tracks (26 on the double vinyl edition). Many of these tracks were on previous albums that are no longer available on any physical form and I guess these songs have evolved since being first recorded so it gave me the chance to put out updated versions of ‘em. And although all my previous albums have been recorded ‘live’ in the studio with no overdubs or stuff, I think this album captures the performance in a way that a studio album can’t. It’s the first release that I really think ‘sounds like me’!”
Dave Arcari plays The Black Box January 20, 2018 @ 2:00 pm £7. Click here for tickets & info.