Identity of a Girl Rocker

The Coverage Team posted an interview,  Are you in a band? * Most of the “yes” responses came from guys. As I’ve noted on this blog before, it seems that rock & roll is a man’s world.

Female singers are never hard to find at Cornerstone. Visit the Gallery or sit at the Chelsea Cafe, and you’ll find some amazingly talented women like Timbre, Lauren Mann & the Fairly Odd Folk, Maron Gaffron, Brooke Waggoner, SHEL, etc. Finding girls in bands that totally rock your face off is less common. Yet, they’re here, too in acts like Quiet Science, Deas Vail, Don’t Wake Aislin, Adelaine, The Rendition, etc.

I talked to a bunch of the women in these bands last week. They readily admit that there are some things they love about being a girl in a rock band:

  • Able to connect with just about any other girl in any other band, regardless of style of music.
  • Easy opportunities to meet fans, who are often very friendly.
  • Connecting with female fans. So many girl rockers I talked to mentioned that ministering to other women made the hard work of being in a band worth it.
  • Using their gifts and talents to make others smile.

These women admitted some downsides too:

  • The smell of the guys in the van.
  • Fighting to be seen as a real person and not just a stereotype.
  • Occasionally having to clean up after the guys when on tour.
  • Having confidence that you belong on the stage, in what seems like a man’s world.
  • The confusion of relationships if you date someone in the band.

Many of these women talked about identity. They brought up how they struggle to know who they are in the spotlight vs. who they feel like the rest of the time. For girl-rockers wondering this, I want to share a bit of wisdom I heard from Sandie Brock, who just played her first show in 20 years with Servant (but who has never really stopped singing): When you’re in a band, that’s who you are, but when the band is done, you need to remember that the God who was at work in you is still at work in you.

I think that’s good advice for the rest of us who aren’t in a band, too. And, it’s a good reminder to pray for the women – and men – who make the music we love so much – pray for them to see God at work in them.

Rock on, girls!

*If they asked me for that video, I’d have to say “only on xBox.” My Rock Band group is called “The Rotary Cutters.”

Preaching Giant

I am not even slightly within the target demographic of the typical hardcore band. I fully admit that I usually just don’t get it, and my friends & I go to great lengths to figure out what bands playing Cornerstone fit this genre, so we can let others enjoy these shows without us being in the way (yeah, that’s the nice way of saying it…). Yet, Sleeping Giant is becoming a must-see show for me at Cornerstone. People who know me and who hear their intense music may find that shocking… until I explain why.

These guys consistently lead the audience into amazingly authentic and passionate worship of God. The music isn’t even remotely what you hear on Sunday mornings across America. The lyrics (after I put in earplugs and train my ears to decipher them) seem very solid and manage to rise far above the emotionally-driven or me-centered lyrics too often found in the modern worship scene.

Listen, and you may hear things like this:

You are worthy Oh Jesus you paid with your blood,
You redeemed us a people that live in the flood of your grace Lord.
Oh Praise Him. He is Holy. He Is Worthy.

(from “Oh Praise Him”)

Oh we exalt Your name Oh God
We exalt You now Lord
You will reign forevermore
Take my life and make it Yours
You will reign forevermore

(from “He Will Reign”)

I made my way to the Underground Stage on Sunday night after one of the videographers on the coverage team told me that Tommy Green of Sleeping Giant had just laid out a phenomenal testimony (read about his story here – the paragraph under the first bold title gives you the basics), then led the men in the audience in mass confession of ultra-personal sins (think pornography & the like) and the women to pray for their brothers in Christ.

So, instead of staying at Main Stage to see the worship set that was likely intended more for my demographic (Gungor), I put in my earplugs and stood in back at the Underground. The barn-like odor became the last thing on my mind as I joined the sweaty crowds lifting our hands and singing “You are holy… You are holy…” I was physically exhausted, and couldn’t stand for the whole show, but I stayed long enough to encounter God breaking through to people who need Him (the band even baptized a few people during the show!) and being praised passionately by people who love Him. Once again, as with the 2 Sleeping Giant shows I’ve visited previously at Cornerstone, I was reminded that God is a whole lot bigger than a particular genre of music. And, I realized again that we humans are a whole lot more alike than our music, fashion, and tattoo choices may imply.

I’m glad that Sleeping Giant and Cornerstone exist to introduce me (again & again) to people authentically worshiping the one true God.

As often happens at Cornerstone, I not only saw a great rock show, but I got a new view of hope. Thanks.


(BTW, thanks to Megan Sontag, fest-photographer, for a) liking other people despite the fact that we don’t love the same music, and b) inspiring me to go to my first Sleeping Giant show a few years ago. The band photo included here is one she took for the Cornerstone coverage site.)

Anberlin FTW

Anberlin closed out Saturday night on Main Stage this year, and delivered one of the most face-rocking shows of 2011.  Things got off to a bit of a rough start, with MC John J. Thompson introducing the band, who then failed to materialize.  (Apparently Stephen was still back on the bus brushing his teeth – I applaud his oral hygiene, if not his punctuality.)  But once the band took they stage, they unleashed a torrent of energy that had the crowd on its feet (and occasionally off the ground) and fists in the air.

The set kicked off with a fist-pumping rendition of “Godspeed,” and for the next hour, the band roared through a range of songs from throughout their career.  Debut album Blueprints for the Black Market was represented by “Readyfuels,” and a pair of songs were drawn from Never Take Friendship Personal (“Paperthin Hymn” and the title track).  Cities was probably a little underrepresented with the aforementioned “Godspeed” and “Dismantle. Repair.”, which was as epic as ever – the dynamics of that song, from the gentle intro to the soaring chorus, with a gorgeous breakdown in the middle, are amazing.  New Surrender provided the newer version of “Feel Good Drag,” probably the band’s biggest single, as well as encore selection “The Resistance,” the Anberlin song most likely to actually incite the riot referenced in the lyrics.

The bulk of the set was drawn from new album Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place, including “We Owe This To Ourselves,” “Closer,” and single “Impossible.”  A great melody, awesome guitar riff, and those killer arena rock “whoa-ohs” have brought “Impossible” into my personal all-time favorites list with a bullet.  “Pray Tell” brought members of Fallstar to the stage to help out on the driving drum part that anchors the song.  “Art of War” and “Take Me As You Found Me” were the only downtempo songs of the evening, offering the band a chance to catch their breath before getting back to the rock.

Perhaps the only misstep of the evening was a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence,” which didn’t translate particularly well to Anberlin’s style (unlike New Order’s “True Faith,” which was fantastic during their set a couple of years ago) and may have sailed over the heads of some of the younger fans in the audience.  But as an older fan of the band, I really appreciate the way they blend elements of 80s arena rock shows with a modern rock sensibility; seeing the band pay homage to their influences is still very cool.

To sum up, Anberlin totally killed it on Main Stage, with one of the highlights of the festival.  Hopefully some other bands were there to take notes on how you can rock hard and still play melodic songs with impressive technical skill.  Anberlin FTW.

What’s my part?

Our road trip today likely mimicked that of many other people who attended Cornerstone 2011. We listened to some new albums, talked about favorite shows and laughed at old jokes. For me, as the sun set and the fireworks came out, I also was personally thankful for all that God has done – to allow us to openly gather in Jesus’ name – and all He’s done in my life through attending Cornerstone.

I hope there was another common thread in road-trip conversations… If you haven’t thought about this, I’d encourage you to do it now: how can you join in what God is doing at Cornerstone and beyond?

I ask because the festival isn’t a place, and it isn’t entirely just an event. It’s really a community.

Sunday, during the Community Gathering, we were given a challenge and an opportunity. I know a lot of people had already hit the road, and others were enjoying shows at other stages — so if you missed it, these were some suggestions given to how we can impact Cornerstone:*

1. Contribute financially, beyond just the cost of a ticket, to Cornerstone/JPUSA. Send a message with this money that communicates how much we value all that Cornerstone is.

2. Pray for the festival and it’s organizers. Pray for God to be glorified and honored. Pray for an unchurched/unbelieving friend that you can bring to Cornerstone 2012.

3. Consider sponsoring the ongoing ministry of Jesus People USA in a regular way. I can’t begin to list the things that they do to serve others in Chicago and beyond.

I hope I’m not the only person seriously considering these suggestions, as well as asking God to show me my part.

How can you join God in what He’s already doing at Cornerstone and beyond?



*Note that these suggestions were given prior to the offering, by one of the volunteers who organizes some of the games/sports at the fest – not directly by the fest staff or JPUSA pastors. Neither that man (who’s name I can’t recall – sorry) nor I or any of the other bloggers would in any way benefit financially if you take these suggestions. I mention them entirely because I think they’re a good starting point for asking God what your part may be.

This Is Not The End

Well, another Cornerstone, the 28th edition, is in the books.  I’ve now officially been to exactly half of all of the Cornerstones there have ever been, which boggles my mind.  This year flew by – honestly, it’s all just a blur of music, friends, and fun, and it’s going to take a while to decompress all of it.  A full day’s drive home will be a good place to start with that.

There was a lot of talk around the grounds this year about the future of Cornerstone – if there will be one, where it will be, what it will look like, etc.  I talked to some folks with the festival who would have the best information of anyone, and the bottom line is this: yes, times are hard and Cornerstone has been impacted just like most everything else.  There is some uncertainty about what Cornerstone will look like next year.  But nothing has been decided, and nobody knows for sure what the answer is going to be.  The one thing that we can know for sure is that if God wants there to be a Cornerstone next year, He will provide, and nothing on earth can stop it from happening.  But if you have any ideas, suggestions, thoughts, or comments, please let somebody know – e-mail John Herrin, the festival director, post them on Facebook, or leave them as a blog comment.  Somebody will make sure that they make it into the right hands.

The dorm room is packed, and the road home awaits, but the festival coverage will continue.  We’re all taking a little bit of Cornerstone home with us, in our lungs if nothing else.  Some blogs about the last couple of days along with some closing thoughts will show up once we all get home, and there are a ton of photos and cool videos on the way from the coverage team, so keep checking the festival home page and all the other usual outlets.

Safe travels, everybody.  Until I hear otherwise, I’ll see you again next year on a farm in Illinois!


Well, guys, it’s been a great week.

It’s with a heavy heart that I write my last post from my seat here at the web coverage trailer(which also happens to be the cooler containing our secret media team elixr: Mountain Dew and/or Diet Coke). Yes, regardless of my bruised heel, heat-rash covered body, and crazy sleep deprivation, it’s still hard for me to think that this will be my last night curling up in my dew-damp sleeping bag.

Regardless of all the last day sentiments, it’s been a fabulous day here on the fest grounds.  My camp family went to the Underground Stage this morning to see The Suitcase Sideshow(

Phillip & Sari Shorey present a puppet show built out of  a suitcase using marionettes once used by Phillip’s grandfather. The stories they tell are taken from the Bible and set in a modern environment. Although the stories are familiar and the puppets may seem gimmicky at first, the more you watch, the more you realize how powerful the skits truly are.

The afternoon brought the opportunity to check out a great generator stage band, The La De Les( Back at home, I shoot for a lot of shows, and it’s always a privilege to see a band that plays with passion and intensity. Saying that The La De Les plays with passion is an understatement. In my 17 years of going to shows, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band play like these young people do.

These guys made for a great afternoon. I’ll definitely be listening to them on the way home tomorrow.

Well, the last band has finished, and the rain has started to fall. Cornerstone 2011 has come to an end. Thank you so much to everyone who made this fest as great as it has been.

See you guys next year!


Day 4 – Worship and Sorrow

The afternoon has been a little bit cooler today and I’ve had a chance to wander the grounds of the festival a little bit. I discovered new bands today like Gaitlin Elms and The Strive and stopped by a small generator tent where 3Union was playing acoustic versions of their songs for the teens.

One of the great things about Cornerstone Festival is that it almost seems like the rest of the world stops for a week. Almost. I received some sobering news today from home and it has weighed upon my heart most of the day. I’ve thought about Job and his response to his wife, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” and remembered that when David’s son passed away, he went to the temple to praise the Lord.

That’s why I’m glad on this Sunday night, the Main Stage ends with artists like Alive Band, Luminate, Robbie Seay Band, and Gungor. In sadness, the worship of the Lord is a hard but good thing. There are lot of different messages from a lot of different people at Cornerstone Festival, but I hope here at the end it all ties together. For those of you having the best week of your life, praise God. For those of you coming to Cornerstone for peace and healing, praise God. For those of whose week did not go like you expected, praise God. For those of you who made new friends or renewed long-standing friendships this week at Cornerstone, praise God. For every double kick drum, every scream, every bow drawn across the violin, every Stratocaster strummed, God is good and worthy of praise. Thank you for Cornerstone Festival.

A dream fulfilled


A dream of mine since 1998 just came true. Thankfully, this wasn’t my biggest dream in life, but it was still awesome… I got on main stage at Cornerstone!

Nope, I’m not in a band. Nope, I’m not the new MC. Nope, I’m not even involved with the quilt raffle. But, I was responsible for a couple of typos and at least one missed cue for the PowerPoint during the Community Gathering! I was a last minute fill-in, allowing the video guys to keep working on awesome coverage which we’ll all enjoy soon. (One hint: epic footage of “Marilyn Monroe.”)

I’m sure it is different during “actual” main stage shows, but I found back stage to be a relaxed, uncrowded, professional, friendly, organized, and dusty place. Here’s a picture from a perspective most of us never see.


A few years back at the fest, there used to be nightly worship at the beach. One of my favorite memories of beach worship is my first time seeing the Psalters. Traveling nomads playing haunting worship songs filled with heavy liturgical content and songs that reflect their political views make for lots of thought. 

This year at the fest, we’ve been blessed with the return of many of the bands that more seasoned attendees are familiar with. It’s been a pleasure to introduce my fest-newbie, music-obsessed boyfriend to the bands I grew up listening to here at the fest.

The ash-covered faces peer out from behind a bizarre array of instruments, including many you may have never seen or heard before like the “hurdy gurdy.”

I’ve heard Psalters described as folksy worship music, middle-eastern-esque nomad tunes, and many others. Everyone has an opinion on this band, and if the opportunity arises for you to see them and develop our own opinion, I highly encourage you to do just that.