Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: Does God Want You to Be Rich?, Session Three

This is the third and final part of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s seminar track from Cornerstone 2010.


Joel Osteen is partly right–God does want to give you your best life now. But the abundant life Jesus invites us into is far better than the American Dream. And it takes a conversion of our imaginations to receive it. This seminar explores Jesus’ tactics for slipping God’s Economy into the broken systems of this world and beginning to enjoy God’s abundance where you are right now.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: Does God Want You to Be Rich?, Session Two

This is the second part of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s seminar track from Cornerstone 2010.


Joel Osteen is partly right–God does want to give you your best life now. But the abundant life Jesus invites us into is far better than the American Dream. And it takes a conversion of our imaginations to receive it. This seminar explores Jesus’ tactics for slipping God’s Economy into the broken systems of this world and beginning to enjoy God’s abundance where you are right now.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: Does God Want You to Be Rich?, Session One

This is the first part of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s seminar track from Cornerstone 2010.


Joel Osteen is partly right–God does want to give you your best life now. But the abundant life Jesus invites us into is far better than the American Dream. And it takes a conversion of our imaginations to receive it. This seminar explores Jesus’ tactics for slipping God’s Economy into the broken systems of this world and beginning to enjoy God’s abundance where you are right now.

James Stump: Science & The Bible

The first and final part of James Stump’s Science & The Bible seminar track from Cornerstone 2010.


Sometimes people of faith think it is the goal of scientists to disprove the Bible—as if scientists get together each week in some smoky room to agree on what biblical doctrine they’ll attack that week!  Others are sure that we can find confirmation of scientific theories hidden in the biblical text.  This seminar will investigate, from a philosophy of science perspective, the goal and role of science within a larger context that includes the Christian’s commitment to biblical revelation.  As a case study, we’ll look at the Genesis account of creation in the context of other Ancient Near East creation stories.

The No Longer Sick Wrapup

So, health-wise, Cornerstone 2010 was probably my least favorite year. I entered the festival sick and I left the festival as sick or sicker. Not a fun way to spend a week. Musically, though, the year was pretty good. Friday was incredible with a solid set of musicians from early in the day right up to the midnight show. The opening day was better than last year’s set of disappointing new bands, though the generator stages were, as probably expected, a total roulette with frequent schedule changes and unknown bands playing. Even with doing some research before the festival, I still didn’t know who was playing half of the time.

The veteran bands were strong, Over the Rhine returned to the festival and made up for last year’s absence by giving us almost two full sets. The Lost Dogs brought out a touching tribute to Route 66. Some of the bands that I hoped would have incredible shows, Future of Forestry and Paper Route, delivered. The only disappointment I had was that there were not as many interesting new bands. Campbell The Band showed promise, but I really only saw three songs by them.

I do wish I had seen more worship-focused bands. David Crowder Band was on Main Stage, but at the same time as another show I wanted to see and I think I would’ve enjoyed The Glorious Unseen more if I hadn’t been feeling so sick at the time.

So, let’s narrow it down to my Top 5 shows:
Paper Route– This was my number 1 most anticipated show coming into the festival and they hit it out of the park. The band drew energy off of the crowd and the crowd was totally into it.

Deas Vail – Successfully navigated the rocky waters of moving from the side stage to Main Stage. Played much of their newest album which contains their strongest material yet.

Future of Forestry – Only three members played about 20 instruments. The band brought energy on the last day with a wide variety of instruments with drums, keyboards, guitars, cellos, and even a harmonium

Eisley – Welcome back DuPree family! Please come back sooner than eight years to Cornerstone.

The Kicks – Good old fashioned four-piece rock and roll songs with girl’s names in the titles. Just a fun show that reminds me of 80’s rock.

The Next 5: These shows are in the second tier, in no particular order.
Over The Rhine – The new songs are still in development, but it was very cool of the band to share them with us. Can’t wait to see how they end up on the new album. Two full sets of material gave us plenty to enjoy.

Lost Dogs – Loved the new Old Angel material and Steve Hindalong thrilled the crowd with twirling a rope. Not as much old schtick as previous shows.

Seabird – Nice end to the festival. The new album might not be as strong as their previous album, but it’s still pretty good and the crowd was into it even though everyone was fatigued from the long week.

The Choir – It was a little rough, sure, with some underrehearsed moments, but it was great to see the band back after a five year absence and the new music was great.

Nitengale – Strange to see only the lead signer at the festival, with the rest of the band dismissed, but his voice is compelling and the new songs are great. Even just on guitar or keyboards, the songs were enough to make me see him twice.

Five Bands That You Will Hear About Soon:
These five bands are flush with potential. We’ll see if they return next year, but if they do, they are going to come back with higher expectations and bigger crowds.

Campbell The Band – They toured around the grounds, playing impromptu shows on drums, guitars, and pianos and it worked, drawing a big crowd to the New Band Stage. They only had three songs, and they sound totally different than the EP they sold, so we’ll have to see what they develop into.

Quiet Science – Saw them last year and they are so close to turning the corner and becoming a big band at Cornerstone. The promotion with the “protestors” and costumes was genius and I think it drew bigger crowds. The first Jesus Village show was a little rough, but they hit on all cylinders on the Impact Stage. They are on the way up.

House of Heroes – For some reason I didn’t expect to like this band, but they rocked it out. The new material has a little bit of Muse influence and I may have to check out some more from this band.

News From Verona – This band is strongly influenced from bands like New Found Glory and Taking Back Sunday and the kids loved it. Fun teenage rock.

The Rendition – Nice piano rock with female lead vocals. I’d like to see this band again with a year of experience.

So there you go, Cornerstone 2010 is in the books! I hope I can go again next year, but just like every year, you never know. At the very least, I’m hoping next year I won’t be ill the entire week.

Famous Last Words

Alright, it’s my last post of the year – let’s talk about bands!  As you’ve probably ascertained, I’m an old guy (39), but I come to Cornerstone as much for younger bands (Deas Vail, Seabird, Eisley, Paper Route) as I do for the older ones (The Choir, Over the Rhine, Lost Dogs).  I thought this year’s schedule was very strong in terms of Gallery bands (and Gallery-esque bands on other stages, like Deas Vail), but maybe a little weaker than usual in terms of newer melodic rock bands (Run Kid Run was a late addition and the Kicks were a fun new band, but in previous years we’ve had a lot more of that kind of stuff – Jonezetta, Capital Lights, Mae, and others of that ilk, many of whom have broken up in the interim).  It seems to me that a lot of bands that would otherwise sound pretty good (polished, capable musicians) are still doing the screamy hardcore thing, and I just can’t get into that stuff.  I’ll be kind of glad when the screamy stuff falls out of fashion a little bit.

I suppose at this point, the done thing is to list some superlatives.

  • Best Generator Band.  The best band I saw exclusively on generator stages was Oh! The Humanity!, a duo doing autotuned dance pop stuff.  They did some nice covers (We the Kings, Owl City) and their original material was pretty good, too.  They were one of the most fun bands I saw all week.
    • Honorable Mention.  The Rendition, the first band I saw during the fest, were tight and polished.  It would be nice to see them graduate to a real stage next year
  • Dustiest Road.  Could the road between the big merch tent and the Rising Storm and Encore stages have been any dustier?  Possibly, but I don’t see how.  By the end of the week, there were stretches of that road that were nothing but an inch of fine grit.  Nasty!
  • Best Cover.  As I wrote earlier in the week, I LOVE cover songs, and it seemed like there were a lot more than usual this year, including two entire cover sets (from Ping and Lightshine Theater).  I think the coolest cover I saw all week, though, was Lightshine Theater’s cover of King’s X’s “Over My Head.”  It’s a great song, and the band did a nice rendition of it, adding in a three-way guitar shred-off in the middle.  I hope Lightshine Theater comes back next year – they’re a nice link to the old days of Cornerstone (REZ, Steve Taylor, Barren Cross, and stuff like that).
  • Best Food.  There were some new food options this year (a salad bar!?) that I didn’t get to try, because I stuck with some of the old standards.  I think the best thing I ate this year was probably the Cajun Alfredo from the pasta trailer.  That stuff is addictive!
    • Honorable Mention.  The $3 bag of like 100 chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookies from the grocery store is hard to beat.
  • Most Improved.  I think Quiet Science was probably the most improved band that I saw this year.  I saw them last year, and they were good (and fun to watch), but their live performance didn’t quite measure up to what I heard on their EP.  Even after seeing them a couple more times (once here at home, and once early in the fest), they didn’t quite reach their potential.  But on the Impact Stage on Friday, they finally played the set that I thought they were capable of, and they sounded great.  Hopefully that’ll become the norm for them, because I really like their music.
  • Best New (To Me) Band.  This one’s really hard to call, because I saw three very different bands that I’d never seen before, and all of them impressed me.  Lightshine Theater was nostalgic and a lot of fun, but I can’t go with a cover band as my best new (to me) band.  Campbell the Band had an impressive performance, handing instruments into the crowd and stuff like that, but I can’t really remember much about their actual songs, so I can’t say it was them, either.  I’m going to go with the Kicks as the best new (to me) band that I saw.  They play straightforward southern rock with a bit of a modern twist and some very nice Beatle-esque harmonies, and they’re very tight and polished.  They were very impressive.
  • Encore!  Seriously!  There were a couple of shows (from two of my favorite bands, Eisley and Over the Rhine) that ended up a bit shorter than they might have been for various reasons.  I saw Eisley’s setlist, and they basically knew going in that they couldn’t play the full headlining set that they’ve been playing on their tour, so they crossed off some stuff that happens to be among my favorites: “Come Clean,” “Ten Cent Blues,” “Combinations,” and “Go Away.”  Over the Rhine just ran out of time in their first set and had to cut “Poughkeepsie,” and skipped a planned 3-song encore in their second set, in what was a rather weird ending to their show.  I know it’s tough for the festival to balance cramming in a lot of bands with allowing bands time to spread their wings a bit.  There were a few shows that I saw this year that I wish had been a little more open-ended, time-wise.
  • Practice Makes Perfect.  It pains me to say it, but the Choir was a little bit disappointing (though I must make it clear that I was still very glad for the chance to see them again).  That’s mostly because my expectations were just so high, though – they play very rarely, and the last few times I’ve seen them at the fest and elsewhere, they killed it.  But Thursday, alas, just wasn’t their night.  They were pretty loose as they struggled through their set, the set itself was fairly short, and while it contained a lot of my favorite songs, it was also a little on the predictable side.  Hopefully they’ll find a way to do a little mini-tour in support of their new album (which is wonderful, by the way) to shake off the rust, and I’ll get to see them in better form down the line.
  • Loudest Band.  There’s a surprising winner in this category.  I figured the last night on Main Stage, with The Devil Wears Prada and others would be the loudest, anticipating that it would sound like (as Mike Roe once described a Stavesacre set playing on a stage near him) “they were raising the lid of hell over there.”  But actually, the Skillet set was far and away the loudest thing I heard all week.  I never got particularly close to the actual show, but it was freakin’ loud even as I was walking down the road over to the Chelsea Café.  They apparently also win the award for “most fire” and “most smoke.”
  • Sorry I Missed It.  Even with all the pre-fest planning that I do every year to try to find bands that I want to hear, there are always a few things that I want to hear that I miss out on.  This year, I missed the Lost Dogs, and I heard they did a really good show.  Thankfully, I got to see them here at home a couple of days after the fest, so that makes up for it a little bit.  I’ve heard good things about SHEL and The Farewell Drifters, but didn’t make it to either of their sets.  I’m bummed that I missed out on Run Kid Run, because their music is right in the wheelhouse of stuff that I enjoy.  Oh, well, there’s always next year.
  • Favorite Set.  There were a ton of great performances this year, so I’ll count down to the one I liked the best (a very hard choice).

8. Future of Forestry.  One of the most musically diverse bands I saw at the fest, Future of Forestry played as a 3-piece (drums, guitar, cello, augmented with harmonium and other stuff) but created a remarkably full sound nonetheless.

Future of Forestry

7. Jeff Elbel + Ping.  An underrated Cornerstone mainstay, Jeff and friends played a set of original stuff (new and old) that I really liked, and then played another set of covers that I may have enjoyed even more.  Make it a point to check them out next year.

6. Over the Rhine.  Two sets from Over the Rhine, with no repeats.  That’s an embarrassment of riches, and the band was wonderful as always.  They’d be higher on the list, but I’m getting just a little weary of this “mellow and sophisticated” phase that they’re in and wish they’d change it up a little (rocking it up a bit, or going full-on into a bluegrass album, or something).  I’m looking forward to hearing where their forthcoming album, The Long Surrender, takes them.

Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine

5. Deas Vail.  I was worried that Deas Vail would get swallowed up on the Main Stage during the day, but they did an admirable job of expanding their stage presence to fill all the extra room, and they sounded great.  I’ve been listening to Birds and Cages a lot since it came out, so I was more familiar with the material this time around and really liked it.

Wes Blaylock of Deas Vail

4. The Kicks.  I mentioned this band above, so I won’t go into all that stuff again, except to say that this was the only band that I previewed before the fest (back in March or so) and then went and downloaded their album immediately.

3. Lightshine Theater.  Not many folks saw their set on the Sanctuary Stage, and it was mostly a bunch of old guys, but we really got a treat from this band.  It was a fun show all around, from the REZ songs, to the other covers they did, to seeing Glenn Kaiser enjoying their set, to watching some guys from other bands mimicking the dance steps from the awesomely cheesy “Love Comes Down” video backstage.

2. Eisley.  Simply sublime.  I’m amazed every time I listen to this band at just how mature beyond their years they sound.  The harmonies are beautiful, the songs are great, and they know how to rock.  I’ve been talking them up to my friends for a couple of years, and thankfully, they totally delivered, so I didn’t sound like an idiot.

Sherri DuPree of Eisley

1. Paper Route.  I’ve seen this band a few times in various settings, but there’s just something about playing at Cornerstone that seems to bring out the best in bands.  There was a small but fanatical group of fans standing down front at the Gallery, and I was right in the middle of them, enjoying every note this band played.  My only regret was that they couldn’t play longer.  I can’t wait to see them again.

Paper Route


So, that’s it from me on the blog this year.  Hopefully you’re stumbling across this post sometime during the Cornerstone offseason, and it can bring back some good memories of the 2010 edition of the fest.  Please jump into the comments and discuss what you thought about Cornerstone 2010, and then go buy your tickets for 2011 – it’s not the same without you!  (Yes, even you, Mr. Hardcore Singer, growling at me from afar.)  See you all next year!

Wrap It Up

Well, Cornerstone 2010 is in the books, and I’ve had over a week to ease back into the real world and process everything that I saw and heard during my favorite week of the year.  I wanted to leave a few (OK, a lot – brevity is not my strong point) parting words as we head into the long Cornerstone “off-season.”

Let’s start with the weather – it really couldn’t have been much better, could it?  It wasn’t too hot during the day, it was pleasantly cool at night (of course, I was in the dorm so I didn’t have to sleep in it…), it wasn’t humid, and it didn’t rain.  The only thing that’s possibly worth complaining about was that it was dusty, but the fest folks did a great job of keeping the roads watered to keep the dust down, and the dust we did have just made for some fun graffiti on car windows.

Smiling hot dog graffiti on a car window

The topic that was seemingly on everybody’s mind going into the festival was the effect that the changes to the fest layout (notably the relocation of Main Stage, and some other changes that followed on from that) would have on the “feel” of the festival.  If you’ve been following the fest blog, you know that I was a bit worried about the changes going in, but in the end, I’m happy to say that I didn’t really mind them all that much.

  • Main Stage looked pretty cool in its new location (especially with the two big video screens flanking the stage this year).  From most places on the grounds, you could see it looming in the distance (especially at night) – at one point, I was on the far side of the Gallery, and if you bent down a bit, you got a clear view of the stage and the video screens off in the distance, and it looked pretty impressive.  We didn’t get one of the truly glorious sunsets that you sometimes see at Cornerstone this year, but if we had, it would have made an epic backdrop for the stage.
  • The new location meant that it was less of a commitment to sample shows on Main Stage.  That’s a good thing, although I think I actually spent less time at the evening Main Stage shows than I usually do.  My Main Stage attendance tends to vary year to year based on who’s playing, and this year, the only full set I saw was Switchfoot, but I was able to get a taste of some other things I might not have seen otherwise, like the Almost, Toby Mac, Phil Joel, and The Devil Wears Prada.  Being able to sample Main Stage bands and then go to other shows is pretty cool.
  • With bands playing Main Stage during the day (a new thing for Cornerstone), it did occur to me that if the weather had been hotter, sitting out in the midday sun to watch bands might have been a problem.  Thankfully, none of the bands I saw on Main Stage in the afternoons got swallowed up by the giant stage, although some of them would have been as good or better playing Gallery or Encore sets where the crowd was a bit more packed in and the band was a bit closer to the fans.
  • The Gallery actually didn’t feel much different in its new location when you were inside the tent.  It was a bit less convenient to hike back over to the food court for a quick dinner between sets, but otherwise, the Gallery move was barely noticeable.  One thing I did miss, though, was having the Gallery and other covered stages near the food court to provide a centralized, shady place to hang out during the day.  A covered place to sit and eat would be a nice thing to add if Main Stage stays on the midway next year.
  • I didn’t see many bands on the Encore Stage this year, but it seems like that stage got demoted a little this year.  The fact that there weren’t that many bands on Encore that I wanted to see this year (several that would have played Encore were on Main Stage instead) might be coloring my perception.
  • The new layout for the generator stages worked about as well as it could.  The schedules were kind of mixed up on all the stages, and adjacent stages stomped on each other’s sound occasionally, but overall, the quality of the generator stage experience was much higher this year.  I would like to see all the generator stage schedules posted (and updated) in a location closer to the rest of the grounds so I didn’t have to go all the way out to the stages to find out that the band I wanted to see wasn’t playing after all.

 So, how was your Cornerstone experience this year?  Have you gotten all the dust out of your shoes and off your car?  Are you working through your post-fest depression?  I think I’ve got one more blog post in me – I’ve got to talk about the bands that rocked my face this year, so stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, if you need EVEN MORE photos of the festival, go check out my Flickr Cornerstone set.


Take Me Back

Its July 15th.  I’ve been away from Cornerstone for nine days, and I’m still completely homesick. Yes, the wonders of flushing toilets, showers, and paved roads just dont seem to delight me. I came home from the fest and was practically escorted to the nearest shower so I could start chipping away at the multiple layers of dirt, sweat, dust, and even other people’s sweat.  But I still rebel even now.  One of my best friends at the fest gave me a single dreadlock that I simply can’t wash.  Knowing that there’s still some Cornerstone dirt in there keeps me a little more sane.

Through various social medias, the overall question is: “How does one recover after a week at the fest?” For some, its as simple as a shower and a few extra hours of sleep.  But for people like me, the ones that are the lifeblood of Cornerstone, its much more difficult.  Cornerstone has become a home to many “social rejects” like myself, and it’s just not as easy as washing all the dirt from our clothes.

Some Facebook statuses and comments Ive seen are as follow:

Cornerstone relapse….when cleaning your shoes avoid breathing any dust that may come off lest you aquire a severe case of C-stone Homesickness..

Who knew some of the worst smells could bring such joy and memories?

It’s like heroine, you get hooked the first time, but after every time after that you only get more addicted; with one exception: it gets better with every time.

I was listening to Flatfoot 56, my favorite of Cornerstone bands, and the faces of all my new friends flew through my mind. Ducky, the punk from Nashville; Justin and Luke, the brothers from Indiana; Youngest… We’re all different people, but these along with a few more familiar faces became my family.  I laughed with them, I cried with them, I let them laugh at how much of an idiot I am. But through it all, there is still that overall sense of family.

And family isn’t something you can just leave behind. So what is the cure for a bad case of Cornerstone homesickness?

Another trip back home next year. Only 345 days left.


Watching us grow up

As I blogged about earlier, coming home from Cornerstone is always hard for me. There’s something wonderful about that little piece of farmland that makes it feel like a little glimpse of heaven. Now that I’m home, if I had to pick a theme to summarize this year at Cornerstone, it would be watching the festival continue to grow up.

Bands growing up

Seabird's Aaron Morgan, and his daughter. Photo by Steve White for

This was my fourth year to see Seabird play Cornerstone, and their sound has matured each year. These guys have been coming to Cornerstone for years, even before they became a band. Seeing lead singer Aaron Morgan bring up his adorable little girl, “to see Daddy make music” was a beautiful moment for this band that I hope to see in an evening show at the festival every year from here on out (and which I will be seeing in my home town of Austin, TX tonight!).

Another growing-up moment was found in Don’t Wake Aislin, a band that’s also been around Cornerstone for several years. This year, in addition to the well-executed generator stage shows, they put on a fun show at the Label Showcase. These guys & one girl seem to know a thing or two about how to get people into their music, with creative ideas like using fortune cookies to promote their shows and being friendly with fans on twitter and other social media.

Eisley, a band that returned after an 8-year hiatus, also ranks in my list of growing-up moments. I sincerely hope their label & CD release issues get worked out soon, since I’d love to see more new material from this very talented family! I think this show marks a good growing-up moment, not just for the band to return, but for the Millennial generation (the generation after X) to be more represented in major evening slots at the festival.

The festival itself

Two weeks ago, I would have predicted that the Main Stage move would be the talk of the fest, but it really wasn’t. Everybody ran with the changes, which I think demonstrate how Cornerstone is growing up again, in ways that will help keep the fest viable for the long-haul.

I see the festival growing to accommodate the democratization of music. So many bands aren’t label-dependent anymore (and may hardly associate with the “Christian Music Industry” whatever that is these days). And, they’re not all just coming to Cornerstone as one stop on the festival circuit. So, I see Cornerstone growing to have places for these bands to play (with all the improvements to the generator stage area, changes to encore tents, etc.)

I also see the festival growing to accommodate how we, as listeners, enjoy music. The first major map change since the festival moved to the Cornerstone Farm reflects how I see most people enjoying the fest these days. Attendees aren’t just plopping down at one tent and staying there all day; we’re wandering from show to show, catching moments of one band and moments of another. The revised map makes that a whole lot easier. It also greatly helped sound-bleed issues, so soft sweet music (like at the Chelsea Cafe) wasn’t overrun by equally-passionate musicians singing hardcore.

The festival is continuing to grow to be a place for the American church of tomorrow. The Youth Leader Oasis and seminar & Imaginarium topics are excellent ways to swap stories and encounter the big ideas about what’s next in the American church. I’m excited to see how the fest will continue to tackle those big ideas.

And… the personal side

Cornerstone 20ten was another year filled with amazing friendships. I drive to Cornerstone with just my husband (who I actually met at the festival in 1998 – here’s a photo of us from this year’s coverage) and we spend the week with friends from all over. It’s always good to see each other face-to-face (normally we only interact online) and see what has changed. I sit by my sister-in-law at most evening shows and get to know her better. I talk to my friend Heather who works with JPUSA’s shelter and get inspired for community & causes (and quilting!). I laugh with friends and re-remember that I’m not alone. Cornerstone is a moment to mark how thankful I am that God put all of us in a place to grow as individuals and grow together through Cornerstone.

I love how Cornerstone is becoming this kind of community for even more people – it’s not just us internet geeks who find lasting friends there: it seems to be happening for the next generations, too.

I’m happy to have been part of Cornerstone 20ten and look forward to seeing all of us continue to grow up next year.