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"We didn't play there more than once a year for the first couple of years. We played at the Rhythm Room and other places. Now we only play the Lost Leaf every couple of months," says Dahl. "It's hard to get booked."
"The booking agent never answers his phone," Red laughs.
Says Dahl, "I thought we were too loud, but we dialed it back a little and the room's gotten better sound and other bands have gotten louder, so, hell, now you can see Scorpion vs. Tarantula down there." And loud groups in turn have tapped members of Sunorus to play on their own recordings. Stinson and Red play horns on the upcoming Scorpion vs. Tarantula album and Tash sang backup vocals on Greenhaven's next CD. (Disclosure: Scorpion vs. Tarantula includes New Times employees.)
Even with some decidedly odd side projects ranging from SupaJoint to Mother of Sorrows to keep members busy, Sunorus has become their main outlet for original material.
"We try not to overplay for our own sake," says Caraveo. "We used to play once a week, sometimes twice a week for years."
"Tato and I, it's our 25th year of playing in bands," says Dahl. "It's catching up to us."
A vigilant attention to time-saving measures has pervaded the group. The new songs are a lot more structured now; long improvised jams are less seldom explored.
"We try to bring in a new song every show," says Stinson. "Lately, it's been Tato or Chris comes in with a riff. We'll work on a song once or twice and then play it live — sometimes a little haphazardly — and then by the fourth or fifth, we get a structure. Then it's set in stone."
"We have already have six new songs since the last recording," chimes Doyle, the one Sonorus member with the most flexibility to go off on a tangent and play a solo differently every time, changing from a mellow Wes Montgomery setting to a fiery Angus Young blast. This explains why a cluster of musos line up in front of him at every show for closer finger studies.
The group now has the luxury of gigging, recording, and releasing material with a minimum of fuss, whenever it feels like it. The new CD is available digitally on CD Baby and iTunes, can be streamed on Spotify and can be purchased, if you insist, on a silver disc housed in a plastic sleeve.
"Buying 1,000 copies of a CD and sitting on them for years and years is no fun, so we do 200 at a time, personal pressings that are hand-numbered," says Red. "And we also have a company that does one-offs in case somebody in Philadelphia wants to buy one. No need to make 1,000 CDs anymore."
But there is one CD this fan would like Sunorus to make, and that's a live CD that's actually recorded live in front of a live audience. Remember how Johnny Rivers made all those Whiskey A Go-Go albums in the '60s that were actually studio recordings with glass clinking and crowd sounds overdubbed later? It's very possible a live Sunorus album with actual crowd participation could provide the final missing piece all the group's recorded work has heretofore lacked. They could churn them out: Meanwhile Back at the Lost Leaf, The Lost Leaf A Go-Go, At the Lost Leaf Again, Rockin' the Folk at the Lost Leaf, Sunorus Comes Alive at the Lost Leaf. Why stop at one?
Surprisingly, it's an idea they've already considered doing." We were going to record the Lost Leaf fifth anniversary show, but it was too crazy," Caraveo says, laughing. "But you're right: There's nothing cooler than hearing a band blasting away on stage and then in the background hearing a crush of empty bottles hitting a garbage can."