One of the best parts of Cornerstone is that it’s not just a bunch of concerts by a bunch of anonymous people. The more times you go to Cornerstone, the more relationships you build an soon it’s not just concerts, it’s concerts by friends.
Today was such a day. I was torn when I saw the schedule and saw that the wildly entertaining bands Family Force 5 and Relient K were playing on the main stage, but I knew I would be staying up at the Gallery Stage all day today. First Jeff Elbel + Ping would be playing and then a conglomeration called the Square Peg Alliance would be following him.
Jeff Elbel started at Cornersone with his band Farewell to Juliet many moons ago, but year after year he returns to do had work behind the stage as a guitar tech and then take the front of the stage with his band, Ping. Jeff’s shows always feel like a gathering of friends as his sense of humor and catchy songs are welcoming and intimate. This year, his set gave me a chance to make my debut on the Gallery Stage as I leaped up on stage to take a family photo of the band. A couple years ago Jerry came out on stage to throw t-shrts to the crowd, well now we’re even!
Following him, the nine person group formed for the purposes of awesome, The Square Peg Alliance took the stage. Eight of the Square Pegs, Andy Gullahorn, Andrew Peterson, Eric Peters, Ben Shive, Randall Goodgame, Andrew Osenga, Jeremy Casella, and Jill Phillips all took the stage together. The ninth, Derek Webb would be headlining later in the evening. The Square Pegs are not only musicians together, but they also friends living close to each other in Nashville. The close community of friendship makes their collaborations authentic and their performances feel real. Each of them adds a unique sense of humor and talent to the shows as each of them performed individually and also backed each other up on all of the songs.
The sense of community of friendship is strong draw to Cornerstone. Many people come to the festival first for the concerts, but after coming several years, many keep coming back for the relationships, both on the stage and off the stage.