Drive, He Said

Thirteen hours of driving behind me, 5 days of music and fun ahead of me – that’s a good place to be. (Yes, technically there are also thirteen more hours of driving ahead of me, but let’s not talk about that right now.)

In my last post, I talked about being a creature of habit, somebody who enjoys it when certain things stay the same. The drive up seemed to be sending the message “get over it,” as there were a few things that, by choice or necessity, diverged from the usual pattern. We had lunch in a different place. (Chuy’s, a Texas-based Tex-Mex chain that’s expanded into Tennessee – my Austin friends encouraged me to try it, so I did. Good burrito.) We drove a different route. (Well, barely, but there was a detour that had a favorite backroads bypass around St. Louis partially blocked off.) We stopped at different places for food and gas. (I’ve gotta say, I was impressed that my rented, heavily-laden, enthusiastically-driven Ford Escape got 25+ MPG on the way up here.) But also for a change, we left Springfield, IL to drive on the backroads to Macomb just as the sun was setting, so we got to drive directly into a beautiful sunset for an hour, with a pilot doing aerobatics in a plane over our heads for part of the drive. That was really cool – it’s surprising how often something like that seems to happen when I’m driving up here.

Since I haven’t seen any bands yet, I’ll give you a few of the musical highlights of the drive.

  • Eisley, Combinations. Eisley is playing Cornerstone on Friday night, and I couldn’t be more excited. That’s probably my #1 most anticipated show. Combinations is a great album – lush, well-produced, sonically diverse, with beautifully harmonized vocals from the Dupree sisters. Buy the CD, come to the show Friday at 10.
  • Muse, Black Holes and Revelations. Yeah, they’re not a Cornerstone band, but when I saw them open for U2, I became a fan instantly. This CD is all over the map, with influence ranging from Queen to New Order and a lot of other places besides. Good stuff.
  • Paramore, Brand New Eyes. Paramore has matured musically with each release, and with Brand New Eyes they’ve produced a CD that’s good from start to finish, with hooks galore. Good steering wheel drumming music for road trips.

Today looks to be an interesting one at the fest musically. There aren’t many bands playing that I’m familiar with (until Rodent Emporium, Switchfoot, and Nitengale tonight), so it looks like I’ll be sampling a lot of new stuff. A few bands that particularly caught my ear:

  • Karina Mia (Impact Stage, 12:45) – a singer with an acoustic guitar (and maybe a ukulele). She had a cover of “CrushCrushCrush” on her MySpace page that sounded pretty good, so I’ll give her a shot.
  • Great Awakening (Anchor Stage, 1:30) – melodic, well-performed modern rock.
  • The Frozen Ocean (Anchor Stage, 3:00) – Gentle, mellow, and kind of ambient. A nice break from being pummeled by hardcore.
  • Sleep for Sleepers (Encore Stage, 6:00) – Mae-ish poppy rock, fairly polished and catchy.
  • Send Out Scuds (Chasing Canadia Stage, 7:50) – Ska, in case you want to party like it’s 1999.


Like coming home

If you’ve reached the season of life where you’ve moved out from living with your parents (even just to college), you’re likely familar with what it feels like to return home. Coming back to Cornerstone brings up the same ideas for me. I get to the festival and see friends and we immediately start talking and can hardly stop (and I’m naturally an introvert). Laughing over old memories, remembering who can’t join us this year, seeing what’s new… it’s everything you ever want in a happy family gathering.

When you return home, it’s comforting because things are so familiar: you can probably walk around the house where you grew up in the dark without stubbing your toe. You don’t have to ask where the silverware is; you just know. Cornerstone is the same way. The signs around the area from the local Rotary club… The red & white striped tents… The lemon-shake-up-stand… The half-pipe and basketball courts…If you’ve been to the grounds ever before, these are completely familiar. It’s comforting.

Every time you return home, and every year at Cornerstone (no, not just this year), there are also changes. Maybe you’ve had the experience of returning home and discovering that “your” room has a whole new look. Your mom took down your old high school memorabilia, redecorated and put in a new bed. You even have to admit that it looks good, but it feels different. It is nicely decorated with a really comfortable bed, but it takes a little getting used to.

I was happy to come back “home” tonight. Yep, a few things at Cornerstone are different and will take a day to get adjusted to (and I’m not just referring to Main Stage; there are *always* changes at Cornerstone). But, it’s all so familiar. It’s filled with people I love. It’s comforting. It’s beautiful. It really is home.

And I’m so glad to be here.


A Cornerstone Key Word…

When I think of Cornerstone many things come to mind: loud music, elephant ears, seminars, camping, the lake, etc. One thing that often gets lost in the shuffle for me is one that at a Christian event should be a high priority: WORSHIP.

Worship means many things to many people. A common misconception is that it consists solely of a guy or girl playing songs on a guitar while a crowd sings along. That is ONE element of worship. Worship encompasses prayer, scripture, preaching, music, dancing, pretty much our entire lives.

There is no shortage of worship opportunities at this year’s festival. No matter what your church background, liturgical to Pentecostal, you should be able to find something at Cornerstone that fits. Here is a sampling of what can be found:

Catholic Mass- Hosted by the Imagninarium seminar tent, this will take place Wed. – Fri. at 9 am.

Breakaway- Teenagers can worship each morning with a band and speaker just for them. The Alive Band will be leading this year followed by various speakers. As usual, this will be at the Gallery Stage.

Nailed (To The Cross)- This “freeform” service of music, prayer, scripture, communion, and Bible study takes place nightly at The Asylum, the goth tent. Don’t be afraid if you aren’t goth, the services are open to all. I received a warm welcome in there earlier today.

Morning Services/Bible Studies at Generator Stages- The Generator Stages are known for their loud screaming and grinding guitars but a couple of them are taking time out for worship and study this year. Check with the stages to find one. There is also a morning service at the Sancrosanct Records Stage.

11 PM Services at Anchor/Come and Live!- This tent co-hosted by Nashville church The Anchor Fellowship and Come and Live will close out the night with worship music and a speaker from a band. I attended some of their services last year, and they were very powerful.

Community Gathering- The grandaddy of all Cornerstone festival worship services! This year’s service will be held on Main Stage Friday night. Parachute Band will start off the worship followed by a little known worship artist; I believe his name is David Crowder. I sure hope he knows what to do!

These are the ones that are in the official program. If there are any worship opportunities that I have left off, feel free to add them to the comments section.

Most importantly, while at Cornerstone this week, enjoy the music, but don’t forget to nourish your soul and connect with the Savior.

Pre-Cornerstone Emergencies

It should come as no surprise to me that a crisis arises right as I’m about to leave for Cornerstone Festival. I started feeling ill on Saturday and went to see the doctor yesterday on Sunday and sure enough, I have strep throat. Ugh. Fortunately, the antibiotics are already starting to kick in so by the time I arrive on the grounds on Tuesday I should be just about full-strength. I just hope I’m not too much of a biohazard to the people in my car during the trip up to Illinois.

This isn’t the first year that something has come up right as I’m about to leave for Cornerstone Festival. Just a few years ago, someone decided to run up a couple thousand dollars using my credit card number right as I was about to leave, so I had to frantically call and cancel the card and find alternate ways to get money for the festival. Such is the way of my trips to Cornerstone.

On the note of my illness, what should you do at Cornerstone if you get sick or injured? There is a first-aid trailer in the midway section of the festival grounds near the Main Stage (check the map on this website). Also, there is a hospital in Macomb, Illinois, which is about a 20-30 minute drive. I recommend bringing a small first-aid kit to deal with minor cuts and injuries and some hand-sanitizer is a must. You will want to have it when you emerge from the infamous portapotties and it will keep you from contracting dread diseases from ill people like me.

Have a safe drive, keep well, and let’s get ready to have some fun.

There Is Nothing New Under The Sun…Unless You’re At Cornerstone.

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

Weather looks to be great!

Last year the grounds were covered with mud on the final day. Will we avoid the rain this year?

I should preface this post with a big caveat. Always, always, ALWAYS prepare for the worst weather at Cornerstone Festival. It will rain, so bring shoes you don’t mind getting muddy and possibly ruined. Bring ponchos so you aren’t miserable and wet the entire day. Bring plenty of socks so you don’t have wet feet all week. Bring tarps and covers for your tents so all of your stuff isn’t ruined. It will be dusty if it doesn’t rain. It can be choking if it doesn’t rain at all, so if you have respiration problems, be prepared. It will be hot. Bring sunscreen, you will be sunburnt if you are not careful. Drink plenty of water and stay cool. Don’t use up all your energy perfecting your roundhouse kick at the hardcore shows the first day so that you are dead tired on the last day. It will be cold. In the evenings, it can get downright chilly. Bring something to wear in the evenings. Bring appropriate gear to sleep in.

Now, having said all that, checking various weather sites it looks like the weather is going to be incredible for the week of Cornerstone Festival! So far the predictions seem to be in the mid 80’s for highs and 60s – 70s for lows (some nights as low as the high 50s!) so be prepared. The chance of rain looks small, but never count on it not raining at Conerstone.

Now, I know there have been some legendary times at Cornerstone in inclement weather. Do you have any memorable times at Cornerstone in the rain, heat, or cold? It was fun and all watching the kids slide around in the mud last year and of course, moving the Underoath and The Devil Wears Prada shows to the Gallery tent was epic. I’ve been to Cornerstone under all conditions. However, I prefer a nice, sunny, days with low temperatures and cool evenings. Keep your fingers crossed because we *might* get that this year.

…and if we don’t, please don’t flood this post with hate comments directed at me for jinxing it. Just a little while more now before the fun begins!


I’m sitting in a town surrounded by corn fields and cows. But something’s missing… because sadly I’m not in Bushnell, IL right now.

My name is Steve and I’m in the middle of Nebraska, two states away.

Like Jerry who posted to the blog earlier, this year is lucky number 13 for me. Cornerstone is definitely one of the highlights of the year for me. To quote 1 Corinthians completely out of context, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.”

I don’t get much sleep at Cornerstone (although I get more than some of the other staff). But it’s totally worth it.

While I spend my work days on the TV news here in Nebraska, on this week off I put my skills to work serving at the festival. I take thousands (and thousands) of photos. You can keep tabs on them from my Flickr account.Plus I’ll be hanging out with about 15 kids from my church youth group. Just for the record, I don’t get paid to be part of the coverage team that puts all this content online for you. I do get access to bands, but the guys in bands are people too, and I’m not often starstruck. I do it because I believe in what Cornerstone stands for, and I want you to be able to relive the fest again when you get home, or enjoy it from afar if you can’t make it.

I usually take in some seminars and youth events, and definitely lots of shows (I’ll tell you which ones I’m looking forward to later!)

Just a few more days to go

If you haven’t started getting your car packed, your tent ready, your various and random accessories to wear to humor everyone at the festival grounds, there’s still time, but it’s starting to run out!  My name is Jeff and I’ll be one of the bloggers bringing the latest happenings of the festival to you as it happens.  This will be my 9th Cornerstone Festival since 1998 and I’m starting to get excited about number nine.   I’ve been getting prepared in my own way, watching previous shows from Cornerstones past on YouTube.  Check out a few that I’ve hand picked and posted on my blog. I’ve been scanning for bands I’ve never heard of on MySpace and Facebook to see if there’s anything new to see this year.    I’ve made a schedule using the amazing Cornerstone Schedule Maker, but I’m keeping my options open just in case something surprises me.

I’ll be posting photos as the week goes along to my Flickr account and sending out updates on Twitter as well as posting here.  You can participate too!  Just add the hash tag #cstn20ten to your tweets as the festival goes along.

The top bands that I’m looking forward to this year initially are Paper Route, Eisley, Switchfoot, and Future of Forestry plus the return of well-known bands like The Choir and Over The Rhine.  There’s always new bands too that surprise me and find their way on to my list of favorites by the end of the week.   Hopefully I’ll also get to catch some seminars and even find some quiet moments for some prayer and introspection.  Of course, there are the old friendships, too.  If you’ve been to Cornerstone multiple years, you know that you form bonds with people you may only see one time a year at the festival, but every year you look forward to seeing them again.

What are you looking forward to most about Cornerstone?  What bands are you looking forward to seeing?

Holy Cow, It’s Almost Time!

I can’t believe that one week from today, I’ll be back at the festival.   Cornerstone has been the centerpiece of my summers for a long time now, but I still get excited every time the end of June rolls around.   Looks like it’s been a wet summer in western Illinois – might be smart to prepare for some mud.

Can’t wait to see all of you there.  I wonder what bands we’ll see this year that we’ll still be talking about in 2020?

Are you ready for 20ten?

Less than a week until Cornerstone Festival? Are you ready?

This will be festival #11 for me, so I know basically what to expect, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to go yet. Over the next few days, I’ll be packing & prepping for our 1000-mile trip from Texas to Illinois and a week filled with great music & great friends. Here are some things I need to remember (which might be good for you to think about, too):

  • Finish making my list of must-see bands. Thanks to the Cornerstone Schedule Creator, hearing about bands via twitter/facebook, and the collective wisdom of many friends, I’m starting to make my must-see list. I’m already seeing several conflicts, which is just part of what makes Cornerstone fun — too many good choices! The actual program can be previewed online, to help all of us decide what to see.
  • Preview the seminars. Every year, I confess I don’t make it to as many seminars as I should. So, again this year, I’m going to preview more seminars/speakers and pick a few to attend.
  • Research what new albums I can pick up easily at the fest. And, I wonder, can I buy yet another Seabird shirt? I only own three of them… 😉
  • Pack jeans and a long-sleeve shirt. Any Cornerstone veteran knows not to trust the long-range forecast (this is the midwest afterall), but it still seems like there might be some colder nights this year. (a nice break from the heat here in Texas, I think)
  • Make a quick run to the store for my Cornerstone survival pack:
    • A small bottle of hand-sanitizer (for the porta-potties).
    • Earplugs. No, if it’s too loud, that does not mean you’re too old. 🙂 I know I’ll go down-front for a few shows, and I’d like to save my hearing so I can keep enjoying music for decades to come.
  • Remember to pack our tickets! There’s still time to purchase tickets online, and there will be tickets available at the gate.

See you next week outside Bushnell!