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!


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!

Roll With The Changes

Ahh, change.  It’s been kind of a theme for the last couple of years, hasn’t it?  Personally, I’m a creature of habit and I love my “rituals” – once I get used to something, I kind of enjoy the sense of familiarity that I get from its sameness.  That’s why, for example, I tend to stop at the same gas stations every year when I drive to Cornerstone (Pelham, TN Stuckey’s, I know you have a root beer and a Goo-Goo cluster waiting for me…).  All things being equal, I usually like things to stay the way they are.

Now, Cornerstone has seen its share of changes.  The band lineup, of course, changes every year.  There’s a crazy amount of turnover in the schedule from year to year, and bands that stay together and become regulars for more than a couple of years are the exception.  Bands like the Choir, who played the first Cornerstone and are playing this year’s model as well, with their original members, are REALLY the exception.  The big change came in 1991, when the fest packed up and moved from its original Grayslake, IL location to its present location on the farm outside Bushnell.  (I’ve only experienced the Bushnell version, but from what I’ve seen, I’d say that was a change for the better. But I probably wouldn’t have liked it at the time…)

So what’s changing this year?  Well, for the first time since I started attending the fest in 1998, the festival is doing a major overhaul of the stage layout.  (There have been tweaks in the past, but nothing of this magnitude.)  Check out the festival grounds map to see what I’m talking about.  As you might assume from reading my first paragraph, I’m a little leery of this change, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.  I’m curious to hear what people think going into the festival (I’ve already seen some comments about the change on the festival Facebook page) and to compare that with what people think after living with the changes for a week.

Some of my thoughts:

  • The changes to generator stages are probably a net positive.  There was something cool about generator stages when they were mostly DIY efforts where young bands brought their little PA and played out of the trunk of their car on the side of the road.  But things started to evolve – the generator stages got bigger and more complex and started competing with each other (and at times interfering with the “real” stages).  Things kind of reached a breaking point last year, with 6 or 8 stages (many with questionable PAs) all squeezed in around that one intersection by the showers.  The bands were stomping on each other, fans had to run a gauntlet of rawk to get through the area, and it generally wasn’t a good situation for anybody.

    So, this year the generator stages are more regimented.  They’re strung out along the road to the lake, and they’re required to have tents and presumably equipment of a certain quality.  They should be more organized and less intrusive, which is good, but you probably lose a little bit of the freewheeling, DIY ethos that characterizes Cornerstone.

  • Several other stages are getting reshuffled – Encore 2 is gone, Encore 1 has moved over by the merch tent, and the Gallery has moved over to where the Encore stages used to be (among other changes).  These changes hit home to me, because I tend to see a lot of shows at the Encore stages and the Gallery.  I loved when I was able to surf back and forth between the two Encores (especially on the late, lamented Tooth & Nail Day, when those two stages alternated bands for constant music all afternoon long), and the Gallery made for a great (cool and shady) gathering place next to the food court and midway during the day.

    Sitting outside the Gallery on hay bales with friends on cool nights, with the food court lights flickering behind me and a band like Over the Rhine or the Lost Dogs on the stage, are some of my favorite memories of Cornerstone.  I fear it’s not going to be quite the same with the Gallery out on the fringes.

  • But the really big change is that Main Stage is moving to the midway area.  I don’t have a good sense for what that’s really going to look like yet.  I understand the rationale for wanting to integrate the BIG stage into the core of the festival grounds, but I’m not sure I like the disruption to the way things have been (again, I’m a creature of habit), and I feel like not using the bowl down by the lake is a waste of a fantastic, unique resource.

    Yeah, it’s a long walk down to Main Stage, and that can be tough for somebody like me that enjoys both Family Force 5 and REZ – running down to Main Stage and back a couple times a night will wear you out.  But making the pilgrimage to Main Stage also gave those shows a sense of “specialness.”  That’s where the really big bands play, so having to go through a bit of hassle (if walking down a road next to a beautiful lake is really that much of a hassle) to see them just enhances the experience, in my opinion.  Walking to the crest of the hill and seeing the place packed out (like for POD a few years ago), with the floor packed and the hill covered is an awesome thing.

    Plus, you’re not going to get a scene like this in the new location:

Candles at Main Stage

So, how do you feel about change?  Are you looking forward to the new layout, or hoping they’ll decide to change it back next year? Post some comments now, and we’ll compare and see how everybody feels about the changes post-fest.


My favorite things about Cornerstone…

Hi, my name is Tim and I am very excited to be one of the blog team for this year’s festival. It’s year 6 for me; I can’t believe in only 2 days I will make the trek from Arkansas to Illinois. There are many reasons to love Cornerstone, so I wanted to take the time to list a few of the things that make it special for me.

1. Discovering a new band you have never heard before. Two of my favorite bands, All the Day Holiday and The Rocketboys, were both bands I discovered at Cornerstone. I can’t wait to see All the Day Holiday this year on main stage. Have a schedule in mind of bands you know you want to see, but make room in that schedule for the unexpected. Both of these bands were discovered by accident and now I listen to them all the time.

2. Asking the tough questions. Cornerstone is one of the only Christian events I have been to where asking of tough questions is encouraged. You may not get an answer, but at least you will discover you are not alone on the journey to find one. My denomination has been experiencing some discord over a hot button issue, and last year at one of the seminars I was able to enter into dialogue with people who had found the same thing happening in their churches. Speak up and ask your questions, you may not get that chance anywhere else.

3. Random meeting of new friends on the food court. Can’t find a seat at a picnic table? Walk up to a table and ask to sit down with strangers. Some of my most memorable conversations have occurred this way.

4. Giant Freezies. I have to have at least one a day, usually more. Give the Rotary Club your support and cool off with one of their freezies. You will be back for more.

5. Films. This year’s film program is scaled back some, but it looks to be a good one. Take a break from the music, and take in a movie and some intellectual discussion afterwards. Music is just one artform in which we can express our beliefs and doubts. Movies can do that in a different way and help us see the struggles that humans face.

What will you add to this list after this year’s festival?

Don’t Leave Before You Go

When I think of Cornerstone I equate it with vacation. It is truly a place that you can let your guard down, turn off the gadgets and let you be reintroduced to yourself. For me the vacation begins when I have the truck loaded up and my wife and I begin the descent down from the great white north. I look forward to hearing all of the bands from Glenn Kaiser to ARE YOU KIDDING ME…LIVING SACRIFICE!!!!!?? The most anticipated concert for me on this trek will be Iona.

There is something to warn you about though when you go on vacation. There can sometimes come a point in a vacation when you have had enough. When you get to that point I would encourage you to fight it and really settle in to enjoy the rest of your stay. Perhaps you will be missing kids, home, or maybe even work. I would emphasize that you stay locked into vacation mode until the day you leave so that when you do finally get home, your batteries will be renewed and you will refreshed.

I heard this saying once as I went on a Jesuit silent prayer retreat. The retreat director told me this, “don’t leave before you go.” Think about that for a minute. When you get to Cornerstone…turn your brain off, get your campsite ready, enjoy some great concerts and teachings but most of all let God “Shuv you to your nephesh.” I will be talking about this at the Sanctuary Tent on Thursday night at 8 p.m.


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!)

Making posters this weekend?

This is a theme I blogged about last year, but since this weekend ought to be prime-time for a lot of bands to be making flyers to post about their shows at Cornerstone, I thought it was worth revisiting. ~Becky

2009 photo for from Thomas Wray

So you’re in a band. You found your way onto a generator stage. You’re excited to play Cornerstone. You’ve checked your gear, got the van ready, you know your songs… now to just have people show up… and not just anybody, but people who might like the style of music you play.

If you’re in a band playing Cornerstone, you want people to come to your show. As a fest-goer, I want to find the bands that will become favorites. I don’t want to hear about an awesome show only after-the-fact.

I do a lot of research to find bands I want to see, but sometimes, I don’t hear of a band until I see their posters covering porta-potties (or any other flat, or even semi-flat surface) around the festival grounds. Along those lines, I present these tips to bands making posters to hang at Cornerstone:

  • List your band name clearly. Yes, I’ve seen some signs that focused on other band names… not very helpful. (Sure, a “for fans of” section is great, but make that smaller than your own band name.)
  • Tell the DAY of the week, not the actual date, since I am on vacation and don’t remember what the date is. haha.
  • Give clues to what kind of music you’re playing. If you don’t tell me, I will have to guess, and most likely I will guess wrong.
  • Remember that not everybody has heard of your band already. Maybe everybody in your hometown has heard of you, but I’m not from your hometown (unless you’re from Austin, TX – in which case I’d love to meet you!)
  • List where you’re playing. If it is something like the “Elitist Music Showcase,” tell me where I can find that.
  • If you don’t know the details of when you’re playing yet, leave blank space and bring sharpies to write in the info.
  • Get creative. Wear a funny costume. Carry a sign. Put your band-name and set times on your tent. Get a friend to write your band name and set time on his tshirt. Write on your van windows. Be funny. Get my attention.
  • Don’t forget to pack the tape to hang the signs! And.. tape is also a crucial ingredient if you’re going to make a cardboard dragon costume like this.

If you’re in a band playing Cornerstone, I hope it’s an amazing experience for you! I’m looking forward to finding tons of new bands next week.

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?