Back from Bushnell…

As I sit here writing this from my house in Arkansas, I can’t help but feel a little “Cornersick” for the festival that means so much to me. True,  I just left about 12 hours ago, but the desire to go back has been overwhelming at times.The weather could not have been better, and the overall atmosphere at the festival this year was one of the best I can remember.

Each day of the fest started for me with Catholic Mass at the Imaginarium. I am not Catholic, but have an interest in liturgical, ancient forms of prayer and worship. This was ideal for me as Father Tom Holloway from the Bushnell Catholic church taught us throughout the services what each action and prayer meant. Contemporary liturgical music led by Sal Solo was great as well and led us each morning to the throne of God. While I couldn’t participate in communion in the Mass being United Methodist, I did go down each day for a blessing from Father Tom; I figure I can use as many blessings as I can get. It was also good to see the small, but dedicated group of Catholic Christians who attend Cornerstone.

On the music front, my favorite shows were Paper Route (see my other blog specifically about them), Switchfoot, All The Day Holiday, and Over The Rhine. I didn’t see as much music this year; I focused on quality rather than quantity.

I spent most of my nights at Movie Zombies, a new program this year for fans of the horror and action genres. Each night we watched movies together and discussed how these applied to our faith. Some of the titles were controversial to say the least, but it is refreshing to see a group of people who aren’t afraid to confront and talk about the darkness and evil in the world. As an urban legend fan, I really enjoyed the night we discussed the “satanic panic” rumors of the 1980s and the part the church had in spreading those rumors. My favorite movie had to be Fido, a heartwarming zombie movie set in the 1950s. (It really was heartwarming; If you don’t believe me, get it on dvd from Netflix and watch it.)

Ending out the festival, I caught the last two songs of Grave Robber’s Underground Stage set. If you don’t know these guys, they are a thrash/punk type of band who wear skeleton masks and use some kind of voice changer thing. It had to be the scariest thing I have ever seen. I know about the spiritual reasons behind the masks they wear (dying to sin), but just don’t know if I fully get it. Part of this has to be related to the way I initially discovered them. Last year I went to bed early one night and about one in the morning got up to walk to the porta pottie. In my half awake stupor, I stumbled past the Sanctuary tent and saw Grave Robber performing. I honestly thought I was having a nightmare it was so scary looking, and since I was half asleep, my brain wasn’t exactly able to fully process what I was seeing. The kids at the show seemed to be having a good time, probably one of the most outspoken  bands for Christ at the festival as well, if you can get used to the creepy voice the guy talks in.

Overall, I saw some great music, heard some wonderful teaching, engaged in some heartfelt and passionate discussion with other movie fans, ate a lot of greasy food, and had the greatest week of my year. See you in 358 days…

Cornerstone Purchases

Back home in Nebraska for less than an hour, I’m already keeping my internet connection busy (yay for high speed access)! With my wife getting cleaned up, I’m passing time waiting for the shower by downloading soon to be new favorites from Amazon and iTunes.

Among the CDs I picked up at the fest were albums by Future of Forestry and Seabird. Now downloading are works by Paper Route, Campbell the Band, and Quiet Science.

What did you pick up at the fest (or will you be downloading in the coming days)?

51 weeks to go

Safe travel to everyone still on the road (or soon to be) following Cornerstone 20ten. What a beautiful week we had, full of musical and other highlights. I had a fantastic week and will look forward to doing it again.  I’ll bring more cookies for sharing.

My favorite sets:

Iona, Over the Rhine, Shel, Timbre, the Choir, Lost Dogs. I was working at Gallery while Photoside Cafe were on Main Stage, but I heard they knocked it out. Way to go, guys!

It was a joy and privilege to play with my friends in the Maron band and Ping. Thanks to so many friends for sharing the moment(s) with us.

Quick Saturday Summary

Saturday is over and Cornerstone 20ten is in the books! If you are like me, you are packing up and heading home. Drive safely! The last day of Cornerstone Festival had plenty for everyone. I saw The Glorious Unseen, House of Heroes, All The Day Holiday, Oh! The Humanity, Future of Forestry, Ivoryline, and Seabird. Not a bad way to finish up the week.

We’ll all be posting our summaries and thoughts about the whole week in the next few days. My battery is about to die and the car is about to be cranked, so it’s time for me to go. Until then, check out my pictures of Cornerstone 2010 on Flickr. See you on the flip side.

What a Run

As I am writing this blog I am looking at the beautiful view from my screen tent looking down the road at the lake here on the Cornerstone grounds. Looking around and reflecting back on the week, I cannot help but to say “Thank you God for letting me be here and using me in new ways.”
The events that transpired at the Sanctuary tent were great. Every day there was a great line-up of bands that loved Jesus. The Bombworks record day was definitely a highlight. That evening wrapped up with Rex Carroll (lead axeman of Whitecross) playing. When he began to play Nagasaki…IT WAS AWESOME!
For me personally to sit in the trailer and talk to band members, give some counsel and just minister to people was an experience I will never forget. I will admit that the Sanctuary tent was not the same without Pastor Bob Beeman or Jim LaVerde in attendance but God still did some awesome things at this tent.
I hope you plan on being a part of this great ministry again next year when Pastor Bob and Jim LaVerde will be back. Sanctuary is a ministry that has blessed me since I was a teenager and still does to this day. You can visit Sanctuary online at or visit my ministry online as well
Have a safe trip home!

Day 3 – Just What I Needed

At this point in the festival, I really needed a day like Friday – lots of good bands (including some of my favorites) and not a lot of running around.  Checking out unfamiliar stuff is great, but it’s also great to settle back and listen to a bunch of songs that you know by heart.

I started the day with a few unfamiliar bands that sounded promising.  Oh! The Humanity, a duo playing autotuned synthpop with live guitars, were playing on a generator stage.  I’m kind of a sucker for that kind of stuff, so my friends and I wandered in.  Initially, the crowd was kind of small.  It must be disheartening as a young band to start your set in front of nothing but a few dudes old enough to be your dad, but the band gave it their all, and eventually a pretty decent crowd wandered in.  Their cover of “Check Yes Juliet” from We The Kings was especially fun.

In terms of promoting their set, Campbell the Band had to have been one of the hardest working bands at the fest, and that’s saying something.  They played impromptu acoustic sets all around the grounds during the week, and their efforts seemed to have paid off – the New Band Showcase tent was packed out for their set on Friday.  Their set was cut a bit short due to an extra-long soundcheck (sometimes you just have to plug in your stuff and hope for the best…), but what I heard was pretty good.  They really engaged the crowd (including handing instruments to the crowd to hold while they played them) and gave a high energy performance, even though their music is a on the more mellow end of the spectrum.

Deas Vail (playing on Main Stage) was up next.  It’s been fun watching that band come up through the ranks from the smaller stages to the larger ones over the last 3 or 4 years.  In all fairness, they probably would have been on the Gallery or an Encore stage in years past, instead of in one of the newly-created daytime Main Stage slots, but regardless, there they were, up on the biggest of Cornerstone stages, with a respectable and enthusiastic crowd.  Playing on that giant stage has swallowed up a lot of bands over the years, and the Deas Vail I first saw a few years ago probably wouldn’t have fared very well up there.  But their music and performance has matured a lot over the years, and they really held their own with a set that drew from both of their albums and their White Lights EP.

Then it was time for an epic run of bands on the Gallery Stage (with a side trip to see Quiet Science on a generator stage, a set in which their live show finally lived up to the potential that I hear in their music) that are the reason I keep coming to Cornerstone after all these years: Over the Rhine (twice), Paper Route, and Eisley.  Three very different bands, but all great.

Over the Rhine’s first set was a relaxed, mostly-acoustic set that featured a number of songs from Good Dog Bad Dog, an album they recently performed in its entirety in a special concert, and a handful of new songs from an album they recently finished recording.  The performance was great as always, and it was a nice way to ease into the afternoon.

After an interesting set from Dignan and a long break to set up their ridiculously complicated equipment, Paper Route brought a bit of a clash of cultures to the Gallery.  There were a bunch of older, mellower folks sitting in lawn chairs (as is the norm at the Gallery), probably holding a place for the Over the Rhine show later in the evening, as a bunch of younger fest-goers crowded down front to stand and see the band.  I kind of bridge the gap between the “old people sitting down” crowd and the “standing up and rocking” crowd, so after the band’s first song, when it became clear that standing was the norm (at least down front), I gladly folded my chair and stood up to rock out with my younger fellow Paper Route fans.  The band sounded great, and their set tended toward the more energetic side of their music.  It was a top 5 show of the year for me – really great.

Eisley continued the culture clash, as competing shouts of “stand up!” and “sit down!” were heard between songs.  I love Eisley, but they weren’t rocking quite as hard as Paper Route and most of the people behind me were sitting, so I was happy to enjoy their set from my chair.  They played a nice, long set (about an hour), drawing from both of their albums and some of their EPs, as well as from their long-awaited, forthcoming album (no news yet on exactly when we should expect to see it released).  I was nervous that their set wouldn’t be good, since I was talking it up to anybody that would listen, but they didn’t disappoint, and it was great to see them playing Cornerstone for the first time in 8 years.  Hopefully now they’ll settle in and become regulars.

Over the Rhine closed the night with their traditional midnight (well, 11:30 this year) Gallery set.  The second set wasn’t greatly different in tone from their first in style, but was a completely different set of songs.  New songs again featured prominently in the set, and from what we’ve heard of their new material, it’s not a large departure from what they’ve been doing for the last couple of albums.  It sounds funny to say about a band that’s as low-key as Over the Rhine, but the set seemed a little subdued compared to their sets of the last few years.  There were some great moments throughout the set, though, including the opener “Born,” new song “The Laugh of Recognition,” and oldie “Professional Daydreamer.”  Unfortunately, the set ended kind of awkwardly – the band left the stage and the house lights and music came on, even though there was a 3-song encore listed on the set list.  Not sure what happened there, but more Over the Rhine is always a good thing.

Karin Bergquist of Over the Rhine

Today it’s mostly back to sampling new stuff, with the exception of Seabird and All the Day Holiday.  Tonight Tonight sounds promising, as do Highland Fall and At Cliffs End.  Plus, there seems to be a lot of hip hop on the schedule today, so I might check out some of that for something a little different.

Friday – There Are No Words


After an amazing Friday afternoon and evening, I don’t think I can come up with a suitable review or summary. Let’s just sum it up by saying that Deas Vail, Over the Rhine, Quiet Science, Paper Route and Eisley all brought incredible energy and some of the best sets that I’ve seen by any of them before. Over the Rhine had missed a year at Cornerstone and their absence was felt last year. It’s been a couple years since Paper Route has been here and almost a decade since Eisley played at the festival. I hope all of them return sooner than later!

It does feel a little like the festival hit it’s peak last night, but there’s still more to go. As usual, I’m finally hitting my stride and adjusting to “Cornerstone Time” on the last day, but that’s the way it goes with this festival. Some great bands will finish up the festival, I’m looking forward to All The Day Holiday, Future of Forestry, and Seabird today. While it’s not my thing, I know the kids are excited about August Burns Red and The Devil Wears Prada. Cornerstone is wrapping up, make sure to get everything you can out of the fun today!


Friday night… wow!

It’s hard to imagine a better night than we had Friday at Cornerstone, after an already solid day. I enjoyed bands like Deas Vail, Quiet Science and Campbell the Band, but an evening at the Gallery took it to another level. Paper Route was awesome! It’s a band I’d heard about, but hadn’t actually heard. Now I can’t wait to buy their CDs and listen again and again. I knew they were a special band when I looked around and saw the guy next to me grooving out, only to realize it was David Crowder himself checking out this band.

Next up was Eisley, a band that hasn’t been here since 2002. Please don’t wait until 2018 to come back! Eisley, you need to be here every year! I’ve seen these guys (er, gals) a couple of times, but this was the best I’ve heard them sound.

All of which led up to the highlight of the evening. Over the Rhine owns that midnight slot on Friday at the Gallery. I can’t imagine seeing any other band there. As one of my friends said last night, everything left at Cornerstone is the denouement, the wrap-up after reaching the climax of the event.

Dignan stoled my cookies

I don’t know that I really need to say anything beyond the title of this blog post.  I left my 100% natural, whole grain Sunrise Energy Bars with Omega-3 at my little tuning station behind the Gallery Stage today.  I left briefly to do some techy things under the front-of-house mixing console, and then went to the Exhibition tent to settle up for the Ping shows. When I came back, Dignan was onstage. My cookie container had been relocated to a table, and about 1/2 of the cookies had been consumed. I noted that the Dignan folks were rocking with much energy, and seemed to faintly glow in the light of the setting sun (comparable to sunrise). They seemed to be very satisfied, so I must sadly conclude that they stole(d) my cookies, and now I cannot hog an entire box of them all by myself.

p.s. Dignan was rad and had a big Gallery crowd going bananas. Much love to them.

The joy of singing along

Sing to him a new song;  play skillfully, and shout for joy. (Psalm 33:3)

Tonight, on the Gallery Stage, in the battle of sit vs. stand, well, singing along somehow won.

Stacy DuPree of Eisley, photo by Matt Laswell

Cornerstone veterans (especially the fiercely loyal Gallery Stage dwellers) know that the Gallery is a different kind of stage. Chairs are provided. People bring lawnchairs. Patrons display long and complicated efforts to get the very best seat before the midnight shows. But, at times, when the Gallery shines bright and the crowd swells, the questions come: is this a sitting or standing show?

Tonight, as Eisely prepared to take the stage, the shouts went back & forth: “This isn’t a sitting band.” Then the reply: “Down in Front!

Somehow, it just didn’t matter. Whether sitting or standing, everyone was clearly awed over Eisely returning to Cornerstone after 8 years away. In those 8 years, the band members have grown up: they’re no longer 12 or 13 years old, but instead are about to be married. In those 8 years, the band has also clearly garnered a large and loyal fan-base. As I looked around me, it was beautiful to see so many people (mostly girls, but some guys, too) singing along with huge smiles on their faces. And, I’m happy to report that I joined in. I even saw many people, who I’m quite certain were there mostly to get good seats for Over the Rhine, chair-dancing and smiling broadly.

The debate didn’t matter. All we needed was the simple joy of singing along to a great show.