Wandering around…

The first couple days of the fest don’t really have a defined schedule. Most of the official stages aren’t open and the legendary generator stages, unique to this festival, are open. They are literally called generator stages because they are powered by generators set up by fans and small, indie music companies or ministries. I like to think they are called generator stages because they generate interest in a band most otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to hear.

I don’t spend a lot of time at the generators, most of the music there skews towards the hardcore variety, a type of music I can only hear so much of. Having nothing else to do, I wandered into the Arkansas Stage for the last song of an instrumental band called Analecta. Whenever I hear the first band at the festival, I feel like I am really at the festival; it is here again. Must admit I loved hearing Analecta and wish I could have heard more, maybe I can catch them again before the weekend is over.

Wander around, find a band, enjoy the music…

Tuesday Night

Ah. Well, friends, it’s great to be home.

Arriving late at night was new for me this year. Driving on unfamiliar country roads put me on edge even with my boyfriend navigating from the passenger seat, but about the time we hit Canton, I could feel that I was close to home. The anticipation that had been growing for a year was building to the point of bursting, and I considered taking up my co-pilot’s offer to drive so I could just sit and bounce in my seat. “Looking familiar yet?” he asked for about the tenth time. As a sign emerged from the shadows reading CORNERSTONE: 5 MILES, I couldn’t help but yell, “It looks familiar now!”

The familiar smell of the gravel road poured through my open window as we made our way through the gate and to our camp. Before I could even get out of the car, my younger brother ran up to us and said, “Laura! Flatfoot is playing RIGHT NOW!” He led us through the maze of tents to the generator stage where my favorite band was playing. I weaved though the croud, waving to many friends I hadn’t seen since the festival last year. I pulled my boyfriend along me. I’d been waiting for months to share a Flatfoot 56 show at Cornerstone. Being as this is his first year, I figured that now was as good of a time as ever to break him in.

After a few of the old favorites, Josh Robieson (the original bagpipe/mandolin player for the band), came on stage with his pipes in hand. Being a “seasoned pro” at Flatfoot 56 shows, I wound my arms around my friends on either side of me. “This one goes out to Levi.” Levi Thomas had been a friend from years past, whose untimely death had left a hole in the lives of those who knew and loved him. His presence here at the fest is definitely missed.

Together, with all my friends, family, and soon-to-be-friends around me, we sang Amazing Grace with the tones of bagpipes. I threw back my head and smiled. I was here, home after a long year, with my closest friends, at a show for my favorite band. As the band came around to the final verse of “Praise God,” I knew that a great week lies ahead.

Praise God indeed.

 

-Laura

Opening Day…

Cornerstone has arrived. In a few hours the merch tents will be opening up selling all manner of music related swag and gear. The main stage opens up tonight with a huge dance party led by DJ Andy Hunter, there are a few films going on over at the Imaginarium, the generator stages are up and running, and tonight at midnight Grave Robber brings the scary.

What always amazes me most about Cornerstone is the variety of reasons people come to the fest. The obvious reason is the music, but think about why you come. What really draws you here? Is it just the music? The fellowship with other like minded people? The challenging teaching at the seminar tents? Gathering with other pop culture geeks at the Imaginarium? A combination of all of these? Whatever reason you are here, enjoy, soak it in, renew your self this week as we seek to get closer to God through the activities we all enjoy so much.

Day 1 Is Only Hours Away

Well, here we are in Illinois for another Cornerstone Festival. Thanks to the time shift I’m up at 7:22 AM, so I figure now is a good time to check in and introduce myself. My name is Jeff and I’ve been coming to Cornerstone now since 1998 (with a few years skipped in between.) I’ve seen some pretty epic shows and made a lot of good friends along the way and that’s what keeps me coming back year after year.

So, the theme for me this year is “Keep Calm and Rock On” which I stole from a sign that my wife and I picked up to decorate the house. It’s a play on the old British propaganda sign “Keep Calm and Carry On” but it actually fits well. I’m hoping to drop the pressures of work and life at home, just a for a couple days, and see some great bands, enjoy some great conversation, and pay a little more attention to what God has to say to me.

There are plenty of bands to look forward to this week. I’m especially interested in the Jesus Rally that will bring several bands that haven’t played at Cornerstone Festival in decades or ever to the Main Stage. I’m really excited to see Anberlin return (and as far as I know, no band playing at the same time that I also want to see! A common theme that happens every year is that Anberlin plays at the same time as some other band I really want to see.) I’m looking forward to Paper Route’s return after their breakout show last year and there is no doubt the “Superheroes” themed Flatfoot 56 show will be talked about for years to come. I’m also looking forward to seeing my friends perform on stage. Dave Richards will be bringing the beats at the AfterHours Dance Club, Jeff Elbel will be working as hard as he does every year at the Gallery Stage and bringing his band, Ping, to the stage with new music and also this year a friend of mine and his band, Songs of Water, plays at their very first Cornerstone. I love the intertwining themes of friendship and music here at the festival.

As for today, things get started right out of the gate at noon. We’ll be wandering the generator stages. These stages were once as simple as just three kids plugged into a gas-powered generator on the side of the road, but they’ve evolved into something a little more professional. However, they still embrace the chaos of their youth. Any band can play on a generator stage and most of them are bands just getting their start and trying to get the attention of a crowd that’s here to see one of any of hundreds of other bands, so anything can happen. Sometimes you might see the next big thing (several big name bands here at Cornerstone got their start on the side of the road) and sometimes you might just be hearing unintelligible noise. You never know, and that’s part of the fun of the unpredictable stages. Then today, the Main Stage fires up with DJ Andy Hunter which will introduce the AfterHours Dance Club to the whole festival grounds and start of a Dance Party to begin the festival. Everything is starting to get warmed up for incredible first day of Cornerstone Festival. Keep Calm and Rock On.

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!

J. Robert Parks: Marshall McLuhan & New Media, Session Three

This is the third and final part of J. Robert Parks’ seminar track from Cornerstone 2010.

 

Facebook.  Twitter.  Second Life.  Such “new media” can hardly seem “new” when the landscape changes week to week.  But it seems worth trying to get a sense of the landscape of how digital media is transforming our lives — for good and ill.  We’ll rely on the guidance of that godfather of media studies, Marshall McLuhan — the groundbreaking theorist of “hot” and “cold” media (and Catholic believer, who converted after reading G. K. Chesterton). We’ll examine several of McLuhan’s theories and apply them to social networking, websites, blogs, cell phones, texting, etc in hopes of continuing the quest to understand media.

J. Robert Parks: Marshall McLuhan & New Media, Session Two

This is the second part of J. Robert Parks’ seminar track from Cornerstone 2010.

 

Facebook.  Twitter.  Second Life.  Such “new media” can hardly seem “new” when the landscape changes week to week.  But it seems worth trying to get a sense of the landscape of how digital media is transforming our lives — for good and ill.  We’ll rely on the guidance of that godfather of media studies, Marshall McLuhan — the groundbreaking theorist of “hot” and “cold” media (and Catholic believer, who converted after reading G. K. Chesterton). We’ll examine several of McLuhan’s theories and apply them to social networking, websites, blogs, cell phones, texting, etc in hopes of continuing the quest to understand media.

J. Robert Parks: Marshall McLuhan & New Media, Session One

This is the first part of J. Robert Parks’ seminar track from Cornerstone 2010.

 

Facebook.  Twitter.  Second Life.  Such “new media” can hardly seem “new” when the landscape changes week to week.  But it seems worth trying to get a sense of the landscape of how digital media is transforming our lives — for good and ill.  We’ll rely on the guidance of that godfather of media studies, Marshall McLuhan — the groundbreaking theorist of “hot” and “cold” media (and Catholic believer, who converted after reading G. K. Chesterton). We’ll examine several of McLuhan’s theories and apply them to social networking, websites, blogs, cell phones, texting, etc in hopes of continuing the quest to understand media.