Welcome Home, Cornerstone!

When people talk about Cornerstone, whether on Facebook or in blog posts or Flickr captions, a recurring theme is that coming here feels like coming home, whether it’s your first year or your fourteenth.  I haven’t even made it to the actual festival grounds yet, but being here still feels like a sort of homecoming.

This year’s drive up from Atlanta was long and gloomy, and things just felt kind of off-kilter.  Inconvenient “real life” things like hassles at work meant that things got off to a bit of a tired, underprepared, “I really hope I didn’t forget anything” sort of start.  The traditional lunch destination for my friends and I, a mall outside of Nashville, had apparently fallen prey to a Zombie Apocalypse, so we had to deviate from tradition and find food elsewhere.  Strange things were afoot at the Stuckey’s– they were SOLD OUT of Goo-Goo Clusters!  That’s like McDonald’s selling out of fries – it’s just not supposed to happen.

But eventually the clouds broke and the sun came out, and as we drove on into the Illinois corn fields between Springfield and Macomb, we burned through a great iPod playlist from artists ranging from The Choir to Pristina, from The Kicks to Over the Rhine, from the Juliana Theory to King’s X.  By the time we reached the “550 Friendly People [‘and Bob’ – an in-joke that goes back about 12 or 13 years]” sign welcoming us to the great town of Industry, “real life” was far behind us and everything felt right with the world.  (Well, mostly – our WIU dorm can best be described with words like “dank” and “moist,” which isn’t exactly what you might hope for, but what do you expect for $40 a night?)

Thompson Hall, room 704

So now I’m awake at a ridiculously early hour, and can’t wait to get to the fest to see all my old friends and meet some new ones, check out some new bands on this “pre-fest” day, and settle in for a fun week.  I’m even hearing rumors of an unscheduled bonus show by a legenDAry Jesus Music band on the Gallery tonight at 10:00 that I really hope comes true…

So welcome home, Cornerstone.  Whether you’re here for the hardcore music or the lemon shake-ups, have a great week.  If you’ve got any good stories to tell about your drive to the fest or anything else, leave a comment on the blog.  And if you’re in the dorms in WIU, come by room 704 and say hi!

First in Line!

Kristin and Ethan Tobias

Meet Kristin and Ethan Tobias, the first ones in line for Cornerstone 2011!

Kristin and Ethan arrived around 4:40 in the morning on Monday, after heavy storms hit the Bushnell area Late Sunday.

Winds were reported 50 miles an hour or more, and there was some flooding in this part of Illinois. The tents were rocking, but they all survived the storms.

Ethan and Kristin made it to the grounds just after the final round of storms.

By Monday afternoon, cars were backed up at the front gate. Ethan says they hung out and made new friends waiting in line. (And for the record, the Tobiases weren’t first, there were two vans in front of them, but they were bands and got it early).

The front gate opened at noon Tuesday, and people began to pour in. If you’re not here yet, there’s still time!

Kirstin says this is probably her fifth festival, and this is Ethan’s second.

Ethan’s looking forward to seeing In the Midst of Lions, while Kristin really wants to see what Rodent Emporium has lined up this year.

The dots are converging on Bushnell

If you could track it by GPS, you’d see it. From north, south, east, east overseas, just around the corner, and all points in between, people are making their way to one of my favorite places on earth: a farm outside of Bushnell, Ill. For the next week, this small “City of Industry” becomes the “City outside Cornerstone.”

Me, I’m waking up in a hotel somewhere near Dallas, unlikely to actually set foot on the grounds for any of the opening bands at the fest later today. Instead, my day will be filled road trip fun: laughing at the same old jokes, stopping at the same favorite spots, and hoping to not have a single Clark Griswold moment.

Enjoy your drive, everyone. And, as much as I want to support the local economy, let’s not do it via speeding tickets!