Arthuriana is the 7th recording that Sunspot’s released. We’re not a new band and we’re not spring chickens, we’ve been writing songs, recording albums and videos, and touring for a long time now, so we wanted to do something a little more than a release party. We wanted to do something that would not only give us a chance to showcase the new tracks, we wanted to do something that would really catch people’s attention. We thought about the themes of the new recording for awhile and there was one thing that unified each track – TIME. Don’t waste time. Use it. That was the message of these new tracks. King Arthur is the once and future king, the hero that will return in the time of Britain’s greatest need. “The Fire In Which We Burn” is about how these present moments are all we’ve got, our most important resource. “Stardust” is about how we are made of the same stuff as red dwarfs and supernovas, TIME belongs to us. What better way to not waste time than play as many states as possible in one day? Most other bands can play 6 states in 1 week, what if we played 6 states in 1 day? But who will let us play and how are we going to do it? We decided on a semi-acoustic set. We’d bring a wireless bluetooth PA with Wendy’s phone playing some backing tracks, a keyboard plugged into Mike’s iPhone and then put through the PA through the auxiliary input, and acoustic guitar and violin. Then we’d find 6 different interesting spots in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, and Illionois that would let us set up, perform for 15 minutes, and get to the next venue. We’ll see if anyone shows up at any of the spots to hear the new tracks,we’ll start at 7am and do our last set at 10:30pm. We mapped it out, called ahead for permission, sent press releases out (and got nice writeups in Hypebot, Madison.com, and LocalSounds), and decided to broadcast the whole thing live on the Internet.
And then on September 21st, we took off.
4am – Meet at Mike’s place
We almost literally jump in the van and proceed to haul as fast as we can to La Crosse. It’s still dark when we leave but we’re all juiced up on a million gallons of coffee. Wendy Lynn and I worked getting the release ready and working out all the kinks the night before until 1am. I sleep for about 90 minutes before we take off, Wendy is brave and doesn’t sleep at all.
6:30am Get to Grandad’s Bluff in La Crosse
It’s still dark when we get there, the moon is still in the sky. But day breaks as we get prepped over the city. A couple people even have gotten up to make it all the way up the bluffs and see what we’re doing. It’s a breathtaking view and it’s an inspiring beginning.
9am Get to the Winona Farmer’s Market
It’s raining a little bit and the sky is overcast when we pull into Winona. There’s a little sign in front of a stage with our name ready when we get there and we even see a few friendly faces of some friends that made the trip out to see us and even brought their kids (something they usually can’t do because we’re partying.) Some of the local farmers even give us some care packages for the rest of the trip.
12:30pm Get to Iowa
We get back in the van around 9:30 and start the race towards Dubuque. The Internet connection is a little shaky in the rural parts of Minnesota and Iowa that we’re driving through and our power inverter is a little hard on us as well, forcing us to get some extra fuses at a Radio Shack on the way.
And then we cross the Mississippi and it’s another awesome sight as we cross the bridge. But we’re nearing 30 minutes late, so we have to get it going quickly.
We arrive at the Fenelon Place Elevator (the shortest and steepest railway in the world, it’s a funicular, which is a little car that goes up and down a railway from the ground level to the top of a hill where you can see a sweet view of the Mississippi.) The owners are excited that we’re there and there’s plenty of tourists to check out the set in addition to a bunch of friends from the city in addition to some others who made the 90 minute drive from Madison to watch us play for 15 minutes. We play right at the edge of the funicular with a view of the Mississippi in the background.
1:30pm Leave Dubuque
We’ve got a long drive ahead because we’re driving the entire width of Illinois on this run to get to Michigan in time to play again.
We pass the time by joking around with friends online and even make a surprise stop in Rockford for one of our friend’s birthdays.
We play trivia with people watching online and even have a little contest and giveaway to pass the time.
7pm Get to Michigan Dunes State Park
With the time change, it’s sundown when we get into the park. We race to set all the equipment up so that the video catches the last of the sunlight.
While the audio of that performance isn’t the greatest because of the wind, it’s one of the most visually stunning of the performances.
We jump right back in so we can make our next deadline in Indiana in only an hour.
8:30pm Get to Indiana Lighthouse
It’s dark, rainy, and cold on Lake Michigan when we arrive.
When we play, however, there are still some people on their way to the lighthouse that check out the show. There’s a crowd even in this most inhospitable of environments. The water was crashing over the wall so much that we began to fear for the equipment (and our lives) a little.
We jump back in the van and race to Chicago, where we plan to play the final set at Millennium Park under the Cloud Gate (Big Bean) at 10:30pm.
10:40pm Arrive at Millennium Park in Chicago
We park with just enough time to run the equipment under the Bean. There’s a crowd of tourists that we get to perform for (and even a friend who was in town from Cincinnati!) and we get through two songs when the park rangers come over and let us know that they have to start getting people out at 10:55pm. But with the enthusiastic crowd and the fact that we made it, well, that made us feel like fricking champions.
12am Find someplace to drink
Feeling victorious at playing all the shows in a day, we started driving back to Madison, but before we left Chicago we wanted to celebrate a little. We found an almost completely empty bar in Chicago and had a couple of victory drinks before making the final ride home. The old manager of the place showed up and started buying shots for us and that’s when it was time to go. He was ready to P-A-R-T-Y and while partying in Chicago is about one of the most fun things ever, we still had work to do on Sunday.
1:3oam Head back to Madison
I drove this shift and it was brutal. We took 90 through Rockford and the construction seemed to stretch out for a thousand miles. But with a steady stream of coffee and chocolates, we found our way home. All the while, Ben was in the back burning Arthuriana CDs for Sunday night’s show in Madison.
4am Get back to Madison
Exactly 24 hours from when we began, we returned. Exhausted but feeling pretty damn good. We had to get our game faces on, the next day was a release party at The Majestic opening up for one of our heroes, ANDREW WK! Well, we let it rip that night, but as they say, that’s a whole other story…