Wednesday afternoon with the Gallery Family

Jeff Elbel and the Ping family

If the Main Stage move is somewhat drastic, the Gallery move seems almost imperceptible. Oh sure, the tent has moved, but it’s almost as if it was teleported, complete with fans and bands to the new location. The stage is the same. The arrangement of chairs and tables is the same. The coffee shop is still there. Even many of the same people that frequent the crowd from year to year seem to have found their way to the new location.

The afternoon set of artists reinforced that familiarity. Mike Roe performed solo and then joined Terry Taylor for an acoustic set. Later, Roe performed a duet with Derri Daugherty with all sorts of cover songs. Guitar tech Jeff Elbel brought his band Ping on the stage and even brought children of the band on stage for a song. Family is a strong theme at Cornerstone and for many of the artists and patrons of the Gallery stage, this is their family at the festival.

As a postscript: I also caught The Kicks on the Underground Stage and they were great. They have a free album for download at


Cornerstone: the next generation

A fine father-daughter moment: Ping's youngest member

I admit that I’m a bit of a people-watcher around the Cornerstone grounds. I love observing things like crazy costumes, creative campsites or the latest fashion trends.

One thing in particular I enjoy is watching families around the festival grounds. I like seeing little children wearing earplugs and headphones. I like seeing children with faces painted after hanging out at Creation Station. I like seeing toddlers decked in tiny black band shirts crashed out, sound asleep in a wagon, while their parents watch a hardcore show. I like seeing kids spinning around and dancing to music clearly not written for them. I’ve seen all of those moments today.

Yes, Cornerstone is not the picture of a typical family vacation, loading up in the family truckster and heading to Wally World. But, judging from the smiles on children’s faces around the fest, I think it’s not a bad way to pass some love for music, and yes, even love for Jesus, to a new generation.


Imaginarium Film Series…

It was last year that I discovered the intellectual (and geeky) fun of The Imaginarium. The Imaginarium is one of the seminar tents but one that is a little different from the others. Imaginarium programs explore how life and faith intersect with pop culture. This year it is examining the politics of racial tension. There is a heavy focus on middle eastern culture, very timely discussion considering what is going on in the world. My favorite aspect of The Imaginarium is the film series.

Planet of the Apes is a film that was made in the 1960s and starred Charlton Heston as Spaceman Taylor. Taylor and his crew crash onto a strange planet where they are taken prisoner by a race of apes. The apes have built an entire society full of class distinctions and prejudices as they have evolved from the lower race of humans.

The movie is actually a commentary on race politics, science vs. faith, and class distinctions. What happens when one race considers another inferior? The movie is a chilling look at our own society’s prejudices.

The discussion that followed the film led us into some interesting places. For instance, the lighter colored apes in the film are the ruling class, while the lower working class are much darker, something I didn’t pick up while watching.

I haven’t fully wrapped my head around everything we discussed in this movie and hope to process more of it later, maybe while watching part 2 tomorrow, Conquest of Planet of the Apes.

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.

Day 0 – All Mixed Up

The “start” of the festival is a little fuzzy anymore, since a lot of bands played on generator stages on Monday and early Tuesday.  Let’s call Tuesday “Day 0” since there were at least a handful of bands on the actual festival stages.  The weather was beautiful – sunny, dry, not too hot – and looks to continue that way for the rest of the week.  I’m loving that, though I could do with a bit less dust.

As my blogging compatriots have already written, the schedules that are published before the festival for the generator stages are suggestions at best, and between that, some technical problems on a couple of stages that put them behind schedule and a few last-minute cancellations, we had a bit of trouble actually finding the bands that we wanted to see.  That’s par for the course, though, so you just have to be flexible and try to keep up as best you can.  It does, however, seem like some sort of centralized way of distributing schedule information (Twitter?) would be handy (“Pilate Error starts in 5 minutes on the Impact Stage”) if the technical details could be worked out.

I started the day wandering amongst the generator stages and saw a handful of good bands, including the Rendition, Sleep For Sleepers, Rodent Emporium, and bits and pieces of Men As Trees Walking, Preson Phillips, the Wayside, and Breille.  Breille was playing an old-school (and unauthorized) generator set on the side of the road, just 3 guys and a minimal amount of gear, but they sounded pretty tight until they got shut down.  There were a few other impromptu side-of-the-road sets around the grounds, too, but they were mostly acoustic things, including a guy with an accordion trying to make enough tips to pay off a speeding ticket.

The main thing that I took away from my experience at the new generator stage layout was that trying to stagger things so that stages aren’t playing at the same time right next to each other would be nice.  Given the fluid nature of the schedules for those stages, it’s probably not possible, though.

The centerpiece of the evening took place on the new centerpiece of the festival grounds, Switchfoot on the relocated Main Stage.  The stage looks kind of cool in its new location – it kind of looms in the background of most of the places around the grounds now.  Seeing the right band play on that stage when one of the occasional glorious Cornerstone sunsets is going on behind them will be pretty awesome.  As for Switchfoot, they were better than I expected them to be.  I saw them a couple of times way back in the day and didn’t much care for them, but their newer material comes across better live, and the band (with Jon Foreman in the lead) does deliver a good rock show.  Foreman takes a lot of cues from the Bono school of performance – climbing stage scaffolding, jumping into the crowd, slinging his guitar behind his back, pulling out a harmonica – but Bono’s not a bad guy to emulate if you’re trying to put on a big rock show.

I was dead tired by the end of the night – apparently I’m getting old, and it takes me a bit longer to switch over to “Cornerstone time” than it used to – so I ended my musical evening with Nitengale (who are apparently down to just the singer playing piano or acoustic guitar).  Unfortunately, I only caught the last 3 or 4 songs of the set, but they were quite good.  Playing solo, the singer’s voice really shines – I never realized what a good singer he is from seeing the band live and listening to their first album.  I’m going to try to catch more of the set tonight at 9 on the Jesus Village.

Today: the Kicks (a straightforward rock and roll band that I’m really looking forward to seeing live), perennial fest favorites Terry Taylor, Mike Roe, and the Lost Dogs, Jeff Elbel + Ping; and too much other stuff to choose from.  It should be a good day for music!


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!

Tuesday Wrapup

One of the great things about Cornerstone is that many of the performers are also fans. While I was down front for the Switchfoot show (which by the way, thumbs up for the new Main Stage. Loved seeing everyone all gathered in the middle of the grounds and the views of the stage were perfect even if you weren’t down front), the lead signer for Nitengale was standing right in front of me. Only 40 minutes later I was watching him performing on the Chelsea Cafe stage.

Seems like everyone is here to see someone perform. So many shows to see.


“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!

It’s Here…

The festival officially opens at 8 PM with Switchfoot’s Main Stage performance, but it is already in full swing. About an hour ago, the merch tents opened up selling all sorts of swag from tshirts, to jewelery, to tattoos (temporary and permanent). Of course there are tons of cds, vinyls, and cassettes. Several booths are giving away free Ipads and other goodies, but if you sign up for those you lessen my chances of winning so stay away! Just kidding, but I signed up for all of them that were being offered. One place is even offering free backpacks to everyone that comes by if you need that. (I forgot one and regretted it these past two days. Thanks Trevecca Nazarene University for solving my problem.)

Things are different this year, but it is still undeniably Cornerstone. I was on the fence about the Main Stage moving to the midway, but it seems to be a good change. It looks great right in the middle of the action. The volleyball courts are moved, but today as I looked out the window from the coverage trailer a large group of kids had a game of ultimate frisbee going; Cornerstone fans are always able to adapt.

The weather is  great, music is loud, food is greasy, lake is cold, and Cornerstone is ready for you. If you haven’t made it out yet, there is still plenty of time left; get in your car and head on out to Bushnell!