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(http://www.suitcasesideshow.org)

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(http://www.facebook.com/theladeles). 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.


Day 3 – Evening

With the weather starting to return to “normal”, every one is still moving a step slower, but things are starting to return to speed. A friend of mine plays guitar with Songs of Water, so I started the evening off at the Gallery Stage. This is their first appearance at Cornerstone Festival and they brought plenty of instruments and an intricate sound with violins, drums-a-plenty, and guitars. I had to run from there to catch The Rendition. Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads these blogs, but when the singer for the Rendition messaged me about my review of their show last year. Since I had been called out, I had no choice but to see them again this year. I’m a big fan of piano-driven bands and I enjoyed the complicated process of playing guitar and the bass drum at the same time so their show was a lot of fun for me.

For the evening, Anberlin delivered a rocking set of powerful music with a setlist that evenly covered all of their albums. I don’t usually go down front much anymore to rock out with the kids, but I couldn’t resist. The band brought extra drums on stage for some of their songs for driving versions of songs from their new album, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place. Lead singer Stephen Christian’s solo project, Anchor and Braille, was moved to Saturday evening at midnight and I missed the show, so I’d be interested in hearing out it turned out. If you were there, leave a comment!

Today is the final day of Cornerstone. I’m looking forward to some of the bands on Main Stage in the evening that will close down the festival with a tone of worship and a little bit of reverence. As Cornerstone winds down, maybe it will all leave us in the right frame of mind for re-entering the real world.

Share your #cstonememories

We’re waking up for our last day at Cornerstone 2011. Days like this always make me a little nostalgic, recalling epic shows or loonnnggg conversations with friends around campsites. I don’t think you can have been to Cornerstone more than once and not have tons of memories, unless you were at that Norman Jean show last night and got cracked in the head. haha

Yesterday, Main Stage MC John J. Thompson invited everyone to share some Cornerstone memories on Twitter. Here’s a little of what was shared there:

  • SirRenofKath (Katherine Ottens): Waking up in a toga made of a Strawberry Shortcake sheet all day preparing for Flatfoot 56’s ’08 midnight TOGA PARTY
  • beesax: The first year I went to Cornerstone a racoon ate all of my bread and also my tent got flooded from a thunderstorm
  • joeljupp (Joel Jupp): Five Iron Frenzy… breaking a pinata filled with baked beans… ‘nough said.
  • Slapogopher (Jordan Blackson): Got engaged last year to an amazing woman
  • benjer712 (Daniel Schaaff): Meeting my wife!
  • Dooglar (Doug Van Pelt of HM Magazine): Early Crucified shows at indoor stage at Grayslake. Stagehands dumped giant tubs of h2o on crowd, which turned to steam.
  • Tugfork (Tug Fork River Band): Playing the Encore stage to a bunch of people completely covered in mud

I love hearing about all Cornerstone memories. What are your favorites – of the silly or serious variety? Post here or tweet it at #cstonememories

Right Here, Right Now

A few stray thoughts as I sit outside the web trailer listening to Blindside on this lovely, cool Saturday evening…

I mentioned some of the problems yesterday, but I didn’t mention one of the awesome things from yesterday.  It’s not strictly Cornerstone related,  but it’s close enough.  Back in the day, there was a food vendor at the fest called the Bushnell Locker that sold the best ribeye and porkchop sandwiches of all time.  They were so awesome that my friends and I gave them a special name:  sammich.  Artists and fans alike loved the place and sometimes bonded with each other in line over just how great it was.  But a few years ago, they stopped coming to the fest, and many hearts were broken.  But I recently got some fantastic news – every Friday, the locker sells sandwiches in front of their butcher shop right up the road in Bushnell.  My friends and I stopped in on the way to the fest and and two sammiches each.  It was as good as I remembered, and all was right with the world again.

Main Stage has a pretty good lineup tonight.  Seabird (who are working on a new album) kicked things off with a 45 minute set of melodic, piano-driven rock.  Blindside, who last played the fest in 2004, are blasting through an enjoyably heavy show right now.  Even the folks in the back in golf carts are enjoying it enough to stay.  And coming up in half an hour or so, Anberlin takes the stage.  They’re one of my current favorite bands, and I’m totally pumped for the show. They’ve been one of the most consistently solid melodic rock bands around for the last few years, both live and in the studio.  It’s hard to top Cities, but their latest album, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place, gives it a run for its money, and “Impossible” quickly shot into my top 10 favorite songs of all time.

Things have indeed gone better today than yesterday.  No power outages, the rain that was forecast seems to have decided not to show, and the heat has finally broken a bit.  No matter how hot and miserable the days get here on the grounds, there’s just nothing better than when the sun finally sets and a cool breeze starts to blow.  Many of my enduring memories of the last 14 years involve sitting around somewhere close to where I’m at now (formerly near the Gallery, now the back of the Main Stage area) hanging out with friends that I usually only see here, at this time of year.  Lots of things have changed in those 14 years, but one thing remains the same: right here is one of my favorite places on earth.

If you’re reading this and you’re not (or weren’t) at the fest, I can sincerely say that I wish you were here so you could experience a night like this, right here, right now.