Well, guys, it’s been a great week.
It’s with a heavy heart that I write my last post from my seat here at the web coverage trailer(which also happens to be the cooler containing our secret media team elixr: Mountain Dew and/or Diet Coke). Yes, regardless of my bruised heel, heat-rash covered body, and crazy sleep deprivation, it’s still hard for me to think that this will be my last night curling up in my dew-damp sleeping bag.
Regardless of all the last day sentiments, it’s been a fabulous day here on the fest grounds. My camp family went to the Underground Stage this morning to see The Suitcase Sideshow(http://www.suitcasesideshow.org)
Phillip & Sari Shorey present a puppet show built out of a suitcase using marionettes once used by Phillip’s grandfather. The stories they tell are taken from the Bible and set in a modern environment. Although the stories are familiar and the puppets may seem gimmicky at first, the more you watch, the more you realize how powerful the skits truly are.
The afternoon brought the opportunity to check out a great generator stage band, The La De Les(http://www.facebook.com/theladeles). Back at home, I shoot for a lot of shows, and it’s always a privilege to see a band that plays with passion and intensity. Saying that The La De Les plays with passion is an understatement. In my 17 years of going to shows, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band play like these young people do.
These guys made for a great afternoon. I’ll definitely be listening to them on the way home tomorrow.
Well, the last band has finished, and the rain has started to fall. Cornerstone 2011 has come to an end. Thank you so much to everyone who made this fest as great as it has been.
See you guys next year!
A few years back at the fest, there used to be nightly worship at the beach. One of my favorite memories of beach worship is my first time seeing the Psalters. Traveling nomads playing haunting worship songs filled with heavy liturgical content and songs that reflect their political views make for lots of thought.
This year at the fest, we’ve been blessed with the return of many of the bands that more seasoned attendees are familiar with. It’s been a pleasure to introduce my fest-newbie, music-obsessed boyfriend to the bands I grew up listening to here at the fest.
The ash-covered faces peer out from behind a bizarre array of instruments, including many you may have never seen or heard before like the “hurdy gurdy.”
I’ve heard Psalters described as folksy worship music, middle-eastern-esque nomad tunes, and many others. Everyone has an opinion on this band, and if the opportunity arises for you to see them and develop our own opinion, I highly encourage you to do just that.
Friday brought me back to the fests of my childhood with the return of high-temp days at Cornerstone. The past few years haven’t been as hot as a stereotypical week at the fest, but Friday kept us hiding in the shade and nursing our water bottles. Even I, an advocate of long pants and dark t shirts, could be seen in shorts and a white tank top.
By mid-afternoon, I’d come to terms with the heat and sweat and took to the roads to capture one of the beautiful sights of Cornerstone: Tattoos. The artwork and skill of the ink around the fest varies from the raw, diy stick and poke tattoos
to the professional and colorful.
But even better than the tattoo itself is the story that inspires it and makes it worth permanently inking onto someone’s body. As I snapped shots of people’s ink, I asked them, “What does your tattoo mean?”
The man with this piece told me about how he is now a single parent, and his tattoo reminds him that it’s never too late to step up and be a good father. I respected that man’s drive and desire to improve himself as a parent.
So far, though, I think this may be my favorite.
As I walked through the merch tent, I stopped by the My Broken Palace table(http://www.mybrokenpalace.com) and talked to the people there. The young lady saw my sign inquiring about tattoos and showed me hers. She told me about how she used to cut herself, but how she now wanted to use her scars to show the grace she had found in the love of God. Seeing as I have a similar story and desire for a similar tattoo, I really loved the opportunity to talk to her.
Here at the fest, when you see someone with a tattoo that piques your curiosity, take the time to ask. You may learn something new, make a new friend, and it might teach you something more about yourself.
I figured it would be to typical of me to write about the AMAZING Flatfoot 56 show last night, so I’m not going to.
Coleman camping gear once released a commercial calling the camp site the “original social networking site.” The same is true of the camping here at Cornerstone Festival.
Cornerstone gives people an amazing opportunity to meet like-minded people in their fields, whether it be art, politics, music, sci-fi, etc. As a newbie photographer, I was very excited to spend some time following around my favorite fest photographer. Watching her shoot and asking her questions gave me a lot of insight into ways to further myself as an artist.
After shooting, I spent some time at her camp with another photographer talking about different post-processing methods and dark room photo manipulation. We discussed topics that affect us as Christian photographers; questions I’d been asking and wresting with for months were finally being talked through with like-minded people.
I spent some time walking around holding a sign asking people if I could photograph their tattoos. Most times, they were more than willing to share the stories behind their ink. For many of them, I found ways that my life and interests connected to their ink, even though I don’t have any “real” tattoos.
A friend of mine and I were talking about how we wished the real world was as friendly as people at Cornerstone. If you get out of your comfort zone and talk to someone, chances are great that you’ll make a new friend and your Cornerstone experience will be truly enriched.
As I walked the dusty roads to a friend’s camp, my ears were met with something new. In the earlier days of the fest before the scheduled bands get going, there is a lot of heavy music and metal. While I love a good, active punk show, metal just isn’t my thing. The sound of a guitar sound checking with a reggae beat and a walking bass line was enough to draw me into the tent.
Men As Trees Walking combines a great reggae feel with honest and beautiful lyrics of praise and adoration to, as they call Him, the Lion of Zion. This 8-piece group dressed in steam-punk garb will make you want to sway, clap, and have a good time in general.
As a new song began, the two female vocalists in the front began swaying their arms back in forth in front of them. They explained that the people of Ethiopia praise by dancing in this way, much like the way we might raise our hands. As the song built, they raised their arms above their head, still swaying. When the song would decrescendo, they would bring their arms back to waist level. Seeing the whole group praise in a way that was new to me was a truly beautiful sight.
The diversity of acts at Cornerstone gives you a never-ending flow of things you’ve probably never seen before, if you can only step outside of what is comfortable and familiar to you. Although I never would have guessed that reggae praise music was something I would enjoy, I was delighted to find that with a band as great as Men As Trees Walking, I could feel right at home swaying to the rhythms of the Lion of Zion.
Ah. Well, friends, it’s great to be home.
Arriving late at night was new for me this year. Driving on unfamiliar country roads put me on edge even with my boyfriend navigating from the passenger seat, but about the time we hit Canton, I could feel that I was close to home. The anticipation that had been growing for a year was building to the point of bursting, and I considered taking up my co-pilot’s offer to drive so I could just sit and bounce in my seat. “Looking familiar yet?” he asked for about the tenth time. As a sign emerged from the shadows reading CORNERSTONE: 5 MILES, I couldn’t help but yell, “It looks familiar now!”
The familiar smell of the gravel road poured through my open window as we made our way through the gate and to our camp. Before I could even get out of the car, my younger brother ran up to us and said, “Laura! Flatfoot is playing RIGHT NOW!” He led us through the maze of tents to the generator stage where my favorite band was playing. I weaved though the croud, waving to many friends I hadn’t seen since the festival last year. I pulled my boyfriend along me. I’d been waiting for months to share a Flatfoot 56 show at Cornerstone. Being as this is his first year, I figured that now was as good of a time as ever to break him in.
After a few of the old favorites, Josh Robieson (the original bagpipe/mandolin player for the band), came on stage with his pipes in hand. Being a “seasoned pro” at Flatfoot 56 shows, I wound my arms around my friends on either side of me. “This one goes out to Levi.” Levi Thomas had been a friend from years past, whose untimely death had left a hole in the lives of those who knew and loved him. His presence here at the fest is definitely missed.
Together, with all my friends, family, and soon-to-be-friends around me, we sang Amazing Grace with the tones of bagpipes. I threw back my head and smiled. I was here, home after a long year, with my closest friends, at a show for my favorite band. As the band came around to the final verse of “Praise God,” I knew that a great week lies ahead.
Praise God indeed.
Its July 15th. I’ve been away from Cornerstone for nine days, and I’m still completely homesick. Yes, the wonders of flushing toilets, showers, and paved roads just dont seem to delight me. I came home from the fest and was practically escorted to the nearest shower so I could start chipping away at the multiple layers of dirt, sweat, dust, and even other people’s sweat. But I still rebel even now. One of my best friends at the fest gave me a single dreadlock that I simply can’t wash. Knowing that there’s still some Cornerstone dirt in there keeps me a little more sane.
Through various social medias, the overall question is: “How does one recover after a week at the fest?” For some, its as simple as a shower and a few extra hours of sleep. But for people like me, the ones that are the lifeblood of Cornerstone, its much more difficult. Cornerstone has become a home to many “social rejects” like myself, and it’s just not as easy as washing all the dirt from our clothes.
Some Facebook statuses and comments Ive seen are as follow:
Cornerstone relapse….when cleaning your shoes avoid breathing any dust that may come off lest you aquire a severe case of C-stone Homesickness..
Who knew some of the worst smells could bring such joy and memories?
It’s like heroine, you get hooked the first time, but after every time after that you only get more addicted; with one exception: it gets better with every time.
I was listening to Flatfoot 56, my favorite of Cornerstone bands, and the faces of all my new friends flew through my mind. Ducky, the punk from Nashville; Justin and Luke, the brothers from Indiana; Youngest… We’re all different people, but these along with a few more familiar faces became my family. I laughed with them, I cried with them, I let them laugh at how much of an idiot I am. But through it all, there is still that overall sense of family.
And family isn’t something you can just leave behind. So what is the cure for a bad case of Cornerstone homesickness?
Another trip back home next year. Only 345 days left.
The highlight of the week for me so far has been seeing The Scoffer. Two brothers who appear to be nothing extraordinary have been playing on the side of the road here at the fest for years, and now, they’re on a real stage. Its like that with a lot of bands that “grow up” here at the fest. You see them for years, you support them, you cheer for them, and then they make it. You beam with pride and you feel excited for them even though you’re not even on stage with them.
As an acoustic musician, you’re definitely at a disadvantage. You don’t have the sheer power that comes with massive stacks and a ka-jillion piece drum kit. But Scoffer has something that those bands are often lacking. The words of every song stems from some story or some desire that these two have had. Austin and Logan have faced their own share of struggles with depression and fighting with God, but through that, they’ve got something real to share with people.
If you weren’t there, you, my friend, missed out on something truly beautiful.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of leading worship and devos for my camp. We enjoyed the day, getting into the groove of C-Stone living. I sat around a poetry circle and shared my thoughts on where my life was headed. I discussed trusting and not trusting God while walking laps around the food court. It sounds weird, but sometimes I swear it’s easier to breathe here, regardless of the dust and occasional b.o.
Today is Monday. Paint on my hands, dirt on my feet, and sweat just about everywhere. I need a shower, but I hear that the hot water isn’t working yet, so I’m skipping out. Main stage is going up just outside our trailer. Within the next 24 hours, bands will be playing. Im anticipating this so much.
Well, its time to log out, brave the heat, and start finding more stories to bring back to you all.
See you soon!
Our car pulls on to the stretch of gravel road. We roll down the windows and breathe in the familiar dust-filled air. I’m bouncing in my seat, unable to contain my joy because after 51 weeks, I am home again. My name is Laura, and I am a full-blown Cornerstone addict.
After fifteen years of attending the fest, I always think I know what to expect. And I’m always wrong.
My group is blessed with the privilege of coming a few days early to Cornerstone Farm before the fest begins. As we’re setting up camp, some friends of mine from The Scoffer ask me to jam with them at the Hobo Camp over by Underground Stage. I’m welcomed by familiar tattooed faces of the crust punks that I’ve met over the years, and we sit around a bonfire enjoying the calm before the storm of fest-goers that are already lining up outside the gates.
One of the guys across the circle from me decides it’s time to add to his tattoo collection. I watch as his friend carefully sterilizes a needle, wraps it in thread, and dips it in ink. She begins pricking his forearm, injecting the black ink, leaving behind a new tattoo. I’ve known for a while that people get tattoos this way, but I’d never seen it done.
Yes, even after so many years at the fest, there’s always something new to see, which is what brings me back every year, toting a new friend or two to share these experiences with, because these experiences become stories we’ll be telling for years to come. I’m looking forward to this week and the chance to share these stories with you and everyone else who hears them.
P.S. I’ll be posting to Twitter about the fest all week. If you wanna follow along, you can find me at www.twitter.com/MinorPunk56