Scottish bluesman takes Merrill by storm
It was a standing room only night at DAT Bar on the night of Friday November 13th, as owners Dennis and Traci Fick and a packed house of anticipating fans, welcomed alternative blues slide guitarist Dave Arcari and his unique blend of hard-hitting vocals and slashing bottleneck steel guitar.
A native of Glasgow, Scotland, Arcari’s career has spanned four decades, including appearances at several famed European music venues including the Royal Albert Hall, The London Blues Festival, Glastonbury Festival as well as several U.S tours.
Arcari attributes his unique sound to rockabilly and punk as well as pre-war delta blues.
As for how a Scotsman comes to be a bluesman, Arcari chalks it up to his teenage discovery of the electric guitar.
“I was about 18 when I got my first acoustic guitar,” the towering rocker explains with a thick Scottish brogue. “I started off playing the usual (Bob) Dylan/Neil Young etc kinda stuff. After picking up electric guitar, I gravitated towards playing blues and started my first band… a fairly regular blues band playing original material.
“I was always more comfortable playing slide/bottleneck,” he continued, “so when I discovered ‘National Guitars’ and started listening to some of the pre-War Delta folks like Blind Willie Johnson, Bukka White and Son House it had an effect on me!”
Arcari and the Fick’s first connected last summer after the couple were introduced to Arcari by friends and local musicians Mitch Ostrowski and Tom Jordan of Wausau-based ’20 Watt Tombstone.’
Not long after, Arcari and his wife Margaret found themselves heading to Merrill for the first time.
“This is my second visit to Merrill and DAT Bar,” Arcari explains. “I played last year with my pals Tom and Mitch from Wausau. Dennis and Traci were there and we immediately became pals. Tom’s been a great help sorting out a few Wisconsin shows on all my visits. A great band, too!
“We’ve seen more of Merrill than you might think” Arcari adds. “Our GPS/SatNav seems to get confused and on both visits we’ve got a bit lost and ended up doing the sightseeing route ‘round the town. Looks good to me! And all the Merrill folks that we’ve met have been cool… friendly, enthusiastic and out for a good time. We like it!”
“Dave and Margaret are amazing people and I love the fact they come through Merrill to bring world class music to DAT Bar,” Dennis said. “Dave has a presence and energy not seen by most solo performers, and a spectacular Scottish Accent!” he adds with a laugh.
As fate would have it, the catastrophic events in Paris occurred just hours before the start of Arcari’s set.
“Hosting an international touring musician puts the attacks in Paris… in a more personal perspective as Dave performs in Paris,” Fick explains. “I believe he recently performed at the venue which was attacked. I watched as they spent time checking on friends back home. You realize how close they are to these situations, especially when hearing the merchandise manager for the band playing in Paris that night, was killed.
Following Arcari’s 90 minute set Friday night was the Ditch Runners, a “Gypsy Gutter Grass” five-piece band out of Stevens Point led by front man Douglas “Buckshot” Bredlau.
“Buckshot Bredlau brought a newly formed band and they really brought it.” Dennis adds. “Buckshot is a one of a kind front man.”
Following Friday night’s set, Arcari played a show in Wausau and Saturday night before heading east to finish up his current tour.
“I’m three-quarters of the way through our current tour,” Arcari said. “Just a short trip this time – 18 shows plus a few radio and recording sessions over four weeks. Tomorrow (Saturday) is the Polack Inn in Wausau, then I head back east for shows in Cambridge (Massachusetts), Putnam (Connecticut) and Kingston (upstate New York) before finishing up at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City on Monday, Nov. 23. “We get back to Scotland on Wednesday Nov. 25 and straight into three more shows!”