Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cornerstone 2012 Day 4 (7/7)

For the final day of Cornerstone, I took the opportunity to see true Cornerstone-style acts. Again, most of the acts we wanted to see were at the Chelsea Cafe stage. So after my last round of Fest Food and a trip through the merchandise tent, we settled in.

Photoside Cafe started the set, and I enjoyed them. They are a Chicago band with an acousticy rock sound. Then another funky folk band took the stage for a great batch of music, Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk. Their music was awesome, their vibe was awesome, and we fell in love. To me, this is what Cornerstone is about -- discovering music that you would never find any other way, or in any other setting. We bought their CD, and totally dig it.

Another oddball act came on next, the harpist Timbre. And I mean "oddball" in th emost positive way possible. I guarantee the Cornerstone is the only Christian music festival to put a harpist on their lineup. Timbre interrupted her European tour to come to the fest, and then jetted back to Sweden a week or two later. Another surprising, bizarre, unique concert experience.

After the folk show and the harpist, I realized that there was not better way to end my fesitval experience than with that eclectic music mishmash. My wife and daughter took me back to the hotel, but they returned to bid Cornerstone its true farewell.

They attended the Viking funeral.

Again I ask, what other Christian music festival would end its life by marching a ship through the grounds, only to light it aflame (they tried with flaming arrows, but had to settle for a lighter and gas-soaked rags).

Cornerstone tweeted a picture of what the boat looked like the next morning, and it looks pretty much like a cross with tattered sheets on it.

An most appropriate ending, to say the least.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cornerstone 2012 Day 3 (7/6)

This was the crazy hot day. Crazy hot. That is an actual picture of our dashboard display when we left the festival.

My daughter and wife both enjoyed their seminars from the day before, but we all agreed it was just too hot to get there early, as the band we wanted to see was in the late afternoon, skipping the early bands and the seminars. We hung out in the hotel, had a nice lunch at the Mexican restaurant near the hotel, then loaded ourselves up with water and headed out in the mid-afternoon.

This meant that I missed a few bands I would have liked to seen, the Wiitala Brothers and Maron. I saw Maron in 2007, and would have like to have seen her again, but these shows were sacrificed for the intense heat. We headed to the Underground stage, which was much hotter than the Chelsea Cafe stage we had spent time at the last few days. not nearly as much air flow, and we were sweating like crazy, just sitting there. We saw Thirtyseven play most of their set, but we were there to see the next band.

We discovered Don't Wake Aislin at Cornerstone 2010. We saw them play 3 or 4 sets at a bunch of different generator stages, including an acoustic show. Great music, great lyrics, a very artistic flair. We became fans, bought the CD, and have followed them since. For this final festival, they were promoted to a "real" stage, and this show was definitely a bigger crowd than the 2010 shows. It was their last show as Don't Wake Aislin, as they announced they were going to undergo a name change. Again, they put on a terrific show, and we were even able to chat with Deena, the lead singer, after the show. We bought some merch from them, and figured that was a great way to end the day.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cornerstone 2012 Day 2 (7/5)

We got to Cornerstone at about 10 AM on Thursday. This was our earliest arrival time, which was to give my wife and daughter a chance to get to some seminars. I hung out at the Chelsea Cafe, starting with the morning owrship service. The Ember Days led worship, which was terrific.

The rest of family rejoined me for a walk down to another tent, where Doug Mains & the City Folk were playing a set. This was another example of an offball little band that we would never have found except for Cornerstone. They played modern folk, and put together a very interesting set.

We grabbed some lunch on our way back to the Chelsea Cafe tent, where JPUSA artist Joy Williams played. After that, we went back to the hotel for a while, and that is where I called it a day. It was hot, we were outside, and even though I felt pretty good, I did not want to be a burden on my family for the evening, which had some bands that they were stoked to see.

After a rest, they headed back to the Festival and I headed across the street to Burger King. Let's be fair -- they got the better end of the deal. They ended up seeing The Crossing, one of our favorite discoveries from 2010. Then they caught a little bit of Iona, our all-time favorite band, who we had seen earlier in the week near our hometown. But they ended their evening with an awesome concert by Icon For Hire, and even chatted for a little bit with Ariel, their great pink-haired lead singer. I was sleeping, and they were rocking.

Everyone was happy with their choices.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cornerstone 2012 day 1 (7/4)

The final Cornerstone festival started in full swing on the Fourth of July, although the gates opened two days before, and a few bands played the night before.

I wore a Pepsi shirt, the only thing I had with red, white, and blue. There some outrageous clothes on display (of course), including some crazy patriotic gear.

We spent most of this day in the Chelsea Cafe venue, a large tent with a decent breeze -- after we were able to scout a place for our seats near the edges of the tent. We got there right after lunch, and caught a show by Paul Brennan Lile. He played southern-rock style set, which was enjoyable. David Curtis (of Run Kid Run) followed, and then a cool act called Oh Sister Oh Brother came on. This is what I was looking for during this final Cornerstone -- a unique, independent act that no other festival would have room for.

Then came the highlight for the day, what we were in that tent waiting for -- the Rez Band 40th birthday party! A brief video played about the band's early days, and then they opened the stage for people to share their Rex Band memories, as Glenn & Wendi just hung out in the tent, letting people come up and chat with them, and share their Rez Band memories.

I tracked down Glenn Kaiser and told him about my early days playing Christian rock on the University of Richmond campus radio station. I shared with him that in those early days it was impossible to do a three-hour shift of Christian rock without playing three or four songs by Rez. I thinked him for his music, the magazine, the festival, all of these things that greatly influenced me in my early days in the faith. And then I waved my daughter over and she took a picture of us!

And since it was a birthday party -- so there was cake!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Cornerstone 2012: Day 0 (7/3)

The drive to Cornerstone was nice -- as always, it seems to take longer than I think it should. Those last 60 miles, once you get off the highway, just drag on. But that was not a problem -- we had plenty of good music to listen to, good podcasts, and just good conversation. My wife and daughter shared the driving with me, which was helpful.

We are not campers, in the tradiitonal sense. By that I mean, we are not campers at all. We stayed at a  very nice hotel in Macomb, about 20 minutes from the festival. You know you are in western Illinois when your hotel is surrounded on three sides by corn fields!

We did our traditional pre-fest shopping at Wal-Mart, getting snacks and water for the next few days, took another look at our schedule for the fest, knowing full well that the online schedule was not up to date. But it gave us something to do.

And we also noticed just how hot it was.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

A Few Concerns

The final Cornerstone is right around the corner, and I have two main concerns: weather & health.

It will be EXTREMELY warm in Western Illinois this coming week. Like 98-105 hot. When I went in 2007, and the family went in 2010, sure it was warm. The festival takes place over the July 4th weekend, you expect it to be warm. But I don't recall any outrageously warm days, any days where the heat was oppressive. But it looks like that may be the case in 2012. Now a nice thing about the smaller festival is that there will be no main stage, and while this is a bad sign for the festival as a whole, it does mean that every stage will be under a tent. Those tents can be awfully hot, of course, but at least they will be covered.

I have been struggling with allergies and sinus issues for almost two years now, and my strength is not what it once was. I have not spent extended time outside, in the heat, in a long time, and wonder how well I will do. My allergies concern me, with the different grasses and weeds out West, and the heat won't help.

All this being said, I am very much looking forward to the festival.