Hi Neighbor

This year I got to bring my wife for the first time to Cornerstone. One of the misconceptions a newbie to Cornerstone may be that you will get a nice private campsite much like one you might have at a KOA or Jellystone campground. Upon arrival you find this to be the complete opposite of your traditional campground.
If you are an introvert, and plan on camping, you will be forced to break out of that mold. If you arrive early you may begin to think not too many people will show up and you will have much space for yourself. It is when you leave for your first concert that you are surprised with all of your new neighbors. Even after many people surround your campsite and you get used to them, you will still see late comers to the campground looking for a site. What seemed to be a full campground already is now their new place to camp. It is amazing how many people can pack into one campsite. What seems to be a full campsite gets fuller.
This is the great part. Unless you are camping next to a stage the chances are you will have great neighbors. This is the case for my wife and I. We met our new neighbors who drove 20 hours from Florida to be at Cornerstone…this made my 6 hour trek to Cornerstone child’s play. I guess you could say one of the pleasantries of being a camper is making new friends. I have yet to hear of someone having a bad experience and if everyone was fortunate to have campers next to them like the ones we have….you will have a very pleasant Cornerstone experience.

Camping At Cornerstone…

We have options when it comes to spending a week at Cornerstone. My first couple of years, we stayed in a hotel. While a hotel is nice, they aren’t exactly convenient to the grounds being in surrounding towns. Another option is the dorms at a nearby college. The most popular option (and the best in my opinion) is to camp on the grounds.

If you have been camping before, this is not like going to your local state park. Tents are everywhere. These grounds become a tent city for a week. A couple of days ago, two guys in a truck stopped me and asked, “Where are we supposed to camp?” I pointed and said, “Anywhere!’ And that is true with a few exceptions; obviously you can’t camp on the Main Stage or in a seminar tent.

Camping presents its challenges. With the exception of reserved RV spots, there is no water and electricity at the camp sites. Showers are available in the shower house in the middle camp, but most people seem to do without those. The weather often presents challenges. One year it was really hot; last year it rained; this year the nights are cool and perfect.

There are some huge advantages to camping. You save money, both on gas and on lodging, since when you bought your ticket you paid for a camp site. You are always close to everything. When we stayed in hotels, we didn’t make it out to the fest until late in the afternoon pretty much guaranteeing we would miss all the seminars and films as well as a huge portion of music.

As I have camped at Cornerstone the last three years, I have started to feel a connection with the place, the people. Cornerstone is often called a community, and you don’t get that feeling in the hotels. If you have never camped at Cornerstone before, consider it next year. The experience will be much more meaningful.

so it goes

the Choir is my favorite band, and i feel really lucky that I got to see them play again … 21 years after the first time I saw them on their tour for Wide Eyed Wonder. I missed everything before that, and wished I had seen them during the time supporting Chase the Kangaroo, but I made up for lost time. I’ve seen a LOT of Choir shows, and I was beyond eager to see one more.  which i did, tonight. and i’m glad i did. but by the band’s own admission, it was a rough gig, noticeably underrehearsed.

nonetheless, the sound the band makes is unmistakeable, and i still find it to be a beautiful thing. i hope they come back again before long (not another 5 year gap, please) and maybe work in another rehearsal or two ahead of time.  i love the fact that they’re playing new material, and that the new material is so good.  i’ve heard “Burning Like the Midnight Sun” once now, and it sounds like the work of people with a rare gift.

The Hippies…They Are a Dancing!

Last night proved something to me that I already knew….hippies, head-bangers, Goths, etc. cannot resist the sounds of growing up. When Toby Mac hit the stage last night I will admit I was thinking what many were saying, “Toby Mac? Cornerstone? Really?” You could hear people jokingly say how much they don’t care for his music. Some where I was sitting would even leave and then come back. This concert by far was the largest production on the main stage so far. From dancers to full band Toby Mac was in full effect.
I have come to the conclusion as a person that grew up listening to DC Talk that Toby Mac is today’s Carman. It should come as no surprise because when Carman was at the top of his game it was Toby Mac and DC Talk that were touring with him.
This is why I say he is today’s Carman. If you grow up with a certain artist that you listened to and years later get to hear him again, though your music likes have changed….sometimes you cannot beat listening to music that you can sing along with word for word.
On my way to see Iona last night I saw a sight that confirmed this. My wife and I were walking and I turned to her and pointed, I said…”The hippies, they are a dancing!” It was a great sight to see people with dread locks and sundresses dancing hip hop to the tunes of Toby Mac. Cornerstone once again knows what it is doing by bringing in the likes of Toby Mac. It is a place for everyone!

Irish Day, then Canada Day, then USA day …

Iona and the Choir are the big draws for me as a fan this year. It’s a little bit weird to say that about Iona, since I never bought any of their CDs before last night … But I”ve  had one of their songs stuck in my head for the 14 years it’s been since the last time I saw them at Cornerstone.  That song is “Irish Day,” and after a gorgeous set full of pipes and reels and prog rock riffing, the band gave me another treat by playing “Irish Day” in the encore.  I loved it.

Today is Canada  Day, and we started Gallery with native Beth Holtby on Gallery.  Very nice.

Now, counting down the days to USA day … two more days, and then the 4th of July. In the meantime, I’m counting down hours and minutes until the Choir’s set tonight!

By the way, I got my recording rig working. If anyone needs to set up a Mac with two MOTU devices, I can give you the tutorial.  Just be sure you’ve got all your cables and drivers ready.

p.s. Thanks to anyone who came to saw Ping yesterday.  That was such an excellent time.  Absolutely loved it.

Movie Zombies…

What really sets Cornerstone apart from other festivals is the abundance of things to do that are not music related.  One Cornerstone tradition that developed a few years back is the Bad Movie Night. Geeks gather in the Imagnarium tent long after the seminars are over for the day to laugh at and make fun of extremely bad movies. Past movies that have received the honor of being chosen for this screening include Frogs, Plan 9 From Outer Space, and this year’s movie: Troll 2.

Troll 2 has nothing to do with Troll 1, has no trolls in it, and was made and written by people who spoke English as a second language. They insisted the all American cast (it was filmed in Utah!) follow their poorly written script EXACTLY as it was written. What ensues is a complete ripping apart of the English language coupled with very amateur acting.

The basic plot goes like this: the ghost of a little boy’s grandfather warns of vegetarian goblins who haunt the forest and feed humans a potion in order to turn them into vegetables so they can eat them. Conveniently, after this warning, the family goes on a vacation to the remote, woodsy farming community of Nilbog (try spelling it backwards).  You can guess what happens from there.

After this movie, a documentary about the making of the film was shown: Best Worst Movie. This movie follows the actors around 20 years later as they try to embrace or escape the small group of rabid fans who see them as stars. The documentary states that Troll 2 is the Rocky Horror of this generation, a film so bad you can’t help but watch.

After all the laughter died down and the documentary played, one realized that these actors are people struggling to make their living and live their lives like everyone else. It added a real human touch to the film. While we had a riotous time laughing at these people, it was eye opening to realize most of them didn’t even realize they were in a bad film until they saw it themselves on HBO or VHS.  Some of them are embarrassed by what happened; one, like the dentist from Alabama who had the most memorable line in the entire movie, embraces it; the mother from the film was perhaps the most touching as she has tried to escape the fame and spends her days taking care of her disabled mother.

Both the film and the documentary were a hilarious eye opening look into the desire of the human spirit to create art in its many forms. While I don’t think this film could be considered art, it certainly has developed its fan following and continues to pack out theaters (and tents at funky little music festivals).

If you get a chance to watch the film, enjoy it for what it is, a very badly made movie, and whatever you do DON’T DRINK THE MILK OR EAT ANYTHING OFFERED TO YOU BY A GOBLIN IN THE WOODS!

The Official Start

Today Cornerstone is officially in full swing! My wife and I kicked it off this year with a teaching at the X1 tent. A lady by the name of Sherri Blue was speaking really was quite interesting. She talked about how Christians can be just as guilty of idolatry as non-Christians. This is what makes Cornerstone great! It is a melting pot of teachings here at the festival and I believe that is what people need. It is my opinion the minute we stop listening to other teachings beyond our “denomination or fellowship” is the minute we stop being stretched intellectually in our growth of who Jesus Christ is.
The Sanctuary tent continues to be a great place of heart-pounding Christian metal. Today this tent played host to Bombworks record label which is exciting to see new up and coming bands.

Beautiful Day

Tuesday was another beautiful day on the grounds. After ending last year with a mud fest, God has been good, giving us some of the best Cornerstone weather.

Tuesday with just the one main stage show and a handful of generator stages running also helped everyone ease into the fest. I’ve got a high school youth group with me. We’ve got about 20. As it turns out, I think it’s about half people who’ve been, half who haven’t. Also about a 50/50 split boys/girls. It’s a nice mix, and the schedule and weather have been especially good if you’re hear with a group.

better than my birthday

The Maron set went well on the Jesus Village stage, although I do wish we’d have learned to play a couple of Switchfoot songs so we could have played along with them while they were on Main Stage.  My wife and daughters were at the Switchfoot set before Maron got going, and I caught a few glimpses by going out to the road and checking the jumbotron.

Saw just a bit of Leper at Chelsea Cafe.  Seemed pretty evocative, and well appreciated by the goth crowd.

Gallery gets humming tomorrow at 1pm, and I’ll be there at noon to help get the day rolling, behind the scenes. Michael Roe’s up first during a whole afternoon that seems custom built just for me.  Roe, then Terry Taylor from DA, followed by Roe again with Derri from the Choir, and then I get to play a set myself.  What could be better?  Maybe capping off the evening with Iona.  Tomorrow seems like it’s going to be better than my birthday.

Better get some sleep!

“Cornerstone or bust,” he said …

I have arrived, and to prove it, I’m here!  … and I’m definitely not first. Looks like a good crowd, and plenty of dust getting kicked up already.   I’m looking forward to a great week, and maybe I’ll avoid a sunburn.

If anyone wants to be my absolute hero, find me and let me borrow your “bilingual Firewire” cable. It goes from Firewire 400 to Firewire 800.  It’s the one critical piece of gear that I left behind, and it’ll keep me from multi-track recording Ping, and more importantly, THE CHOIR.

You can find me almost anytime or leave a message backstage at Gallery.

I get to play bass with Maron tonight on the Jesus Village stage, which I’m really looking forward to.  I predict some bleed from the Switchfoot set, so maybe we can learn a couple of their songs and play along with them.

Ping’s set at the new Gallery Stage location is tomorrow at 4:15.  The band is sounding good, and we whipped up a brand new track on Monday (yesterday) that we’re going to play tomorrow. The song is called “Lucky.”  Very vibey.  Probably the closest thing to Choir style we’ve done since some of us were in Farewell to Juliet back in the dark ages.

Excited to be back here with everyone!