Beneath Medicine Tree

After a week in the hospital, Adriene is back home and we are back to almost normal life around the house. The week in the hospital was … oddly serene. We didn’t do a whole lot other than watch TV, browse the Internet, and read a whole lot (Adriene knocked out the last Harry Potter book in something like seven hours. I’m reviewing all previous six books before reading book 7, so I’m not quite there yet. Don’t tell me what happens or I will cut you.) We really felt like we were in the eye of a hurricane with it all so calm after drama and no doubt before more drama as the birth approaches.

I’ve always had a pretty big aversion to hospitals, mostly because my only childhood memories of the hospital were going to visit relatives shortly before they would die. That’s not really good memories to build on. I had to keep telling myself there are far more sinister reasons to have to spend time here. A friend of mine lost her mother to cancer in a hospital this past week. I hope after God throws Satan and Death into the lake of fire that Cancer is the next to go in.

It was an odd juxtaposition walking from our room to the cafeteria, walking from rooms where new life begins past halls where everyone was sick and dying. It was a lot for my mind to process and I think I’m still processing it. Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I’m around so many people with such a vast range of emotions going on and I shut down. When I get in these situations, I let myself go numb so I won’t get overwhelmed. I’ve ordered a lot of fast-food this week and I’m sure each person behind the counter has thought “who is this guy and why does he mumble his orders so quietly?” I dunno. I guess I just need some time to sort out how I feel about so many different things going on right now.

In the Shadow of the New Mountain


I’ve spent the last couple of days at the hospital visiting Adriene and driving back and forth from the hospital and home. On the drive from home to the hospital, I drive around Kennesaw Mountain each time. I find something comforting about seeing the same landmark each and every day. When I moved out to our new home about five years ago one of the things I loved most about where we lived was that it was near the mountain. I often head over there to go running around the base of the mountain for an afternoon jog, or I climb to the top for some vigorous exercise and a nice view of Marietta and the Atlanta skyline. For the last couple of years I’ve dragged my camera up and down the mountain each season, getting pictures of springtime flowers, fall leaves, and city skylines when the leaves are gone in the winter.

I don’t know why I have such a magnetic attraction to the mountain, but it’s not the first mountain I’ve developed such a connection. I grew up in the shadow of Stone Mountain and in college I spent a lot of time winding around the top of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga. Interesting that all three mountains have Civil War connections (major battles at Lookout Mountain and Kennesaw Mountain and a giant carving on the side of Stone Mountain.) Maybe I have a fondness for Lost Causes. All I know is that when I see the profile of Kennesaw Mountain on the horizon, I know I see home.

Cornerstone 2007, Day 4

After a week home, I’m going to document my week at Cornerstone Festival, mostly for my own archival purposes. This is built on posts on the blog with a little more details and commentary here.

Every year on the last day of Cornerstone I feel about the same way. “I’m so tired and ready to go home” and yet also, “this is the last day so I better soak it all in.” So, with those two thoughts in mind, I ventured forth for my last day of Cornerstone.

I arrived at the Press Tent for an interesting discussion about “Re-Imaging CCM.” The music industry is undergoing big changes and Christian music is just a small niche in that industry, but nevertheless, it will also feel the changes as the industry as a whole changes. Downloadable music has struck a big blow at the traditional structure of how product is marketed and now affordable audio editing tools and advertising avenues like MySpace, PureVolume, and Virb are leaving bands asking questions like, “Just what does the label do for us anyways?” and that’s just as true in the Christian music market as it is in the music market as a whole. We sat through a couple more press conferences, one by Decyfer Down and one by Sean Michel, a contestant on American Idol this year who was here with his band at the festival. The most interesting press conference of the afternoon, however, was Family Force 5, as they entertained the crowd with beatboxing into the mikes and answering questions from young kids. They’re just a fun band all around and they are still really accessible despite their recent success.

Jeff Elbel enlisted us to help him record and film his show at the Gallery stage so we showed up early and caught a little bit of Spoken Word. Then we watched Exit The Ordinary, a three piece straight-up rock band that seemed a little out of place on the quieter Gallery stage, but still delivered a solid show good enough to make me pick up their EP.

Elbel and his band Ping performed next. Elbel is the guitar tech to everyone during the week of Cornerstone and works hard keeping everything running smoothly at the Gallery Stage, so this is his well-deserved chance to get a little visibility on the front of the stage. Armed with a cavalcade of video cameras, there was plenty of recordings which will hopefully someday make it into a DVD of some sort. The highlight of the show for me was his cover of U2’s “North and South of the River” which he also performed last year.

I took off and kicked it up to warp speed to get down to the Main Stage to see Family Force 5. I don’t know what to say about these guys. I’m way too old to like this kind of music, but it’s infectious, catchy, and a whole lot of fun. The crowd was one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen at the Main Stage for an opening band early in the evening and they did not disappoint entertaining everyone. I love seeing bands from home in Atlanta make it big and I have a feeling they are well on their way towards that.

Afterwards, I joined friends for dinner secluded away from all the noise in the back corners of the campground. As we sat around and talked about music, television and each others’ lives and just in general, enjoyed each others company, I thought about how many other groups of people were doing this same exact thing during this week at Cornerstone. This is a reunion time and meeting place for groups of friends year after year all across different age groups and fans of music of all sorts of styles. That’s one of the traditions about Cornerstone that I really love.

I went back to the Gallery Stage to see Leeland which was packed out. I was surprised by the big crowd as this had been the first time I had heard of them, but they brought the crowd into a mood for praise and there was definitely a very reverent and worshipful tone set over the show. The final show of the night was Sleeping At Last, which fit quite well into the late night with some dreamy songs and airy rock. Near the end of the show they played one of my all-time favorite songs by them called “Umbrellas” and the lyrics really hit me hard. Maybe it was just the Cornerstone dust or maybe I was just missing home and was reaching the emotional peak of the week knowing I was leaving so much, but returning to so much also, but let’s just say things got a little blurry for me to see.

One of the great quotes that I heard today was, “There is so much love at this festival, now take this love out to the world.” I’m tired and ready to go home, but I’m ready to take a little bit of Cornerstone with me, too.

Cornerstone 2007, Day 3

After a week home, I’m going to document my week at Cornerstone Festival, mostly for my own archival purposes. This is built on posts on the blog with a little more details and commentary here.

Fantastic weather today. It would appear that the rain clouds have blown out and the two last days are going to be unbelievably pleasant weather. It even drops into the 50’s in the evening.

The third day of Cornerstone was a whirlwind day for me. I have to say that I’m liking this new trend of bands with chiming guitars, keyboards, and heartfelt high-pitched vocals. It’s totally gettng to the inner-teenager in me that refuses to grow up. Some of them sound alike, but I can listen to a hundred of these bands all day long and I won’t complain. That being said, I tried to sample as many as we could around the festival this afternoon. The first band I saw today was Seabird. After that, I ran over to the Anchor Stage to catch a little bit of Redflecks, a female vocaled band with some older influences, almost like Blondie, but I don’t think that’s a very good comparison.

My friend David at the van was doing a DJ session, so I hopped over there to visit him. The folks at the dance forum/website have installed a DJ station with turntables into the top of a minivan and are doing impromptu generator shows from there. I’ve got to say that it’s a pretty cool visual sight and it’s successfully getting them attention from fest goers for their shows at the Dance Barn at night.

After stopping by there, it was back to some more rock and roll. I get back to the Indoor Stage and Decapolis Label Stage to first see All The Day Holiday, a band whose first album was produced by Ric Hordinski. The band features drums up front of the stage, much like Mute Math, bedecked with balloons all over the stage. Then, it’s a quick leap over to the other stage to see The Future of Forestry. The band features guitars, keyboards, and even a theremin and they sound great. I’m loving all these new bands with lush instrumentation. Deas Vail plays at the Gallery Stage, so I hike over to there again. The band sounds a little bit like Mae and they deliver a great show.

Michael Roe is plays with Michael Pritzl in the early evening in a show called Roe vs. Pritzl. The two formed a friendship after sitting out late one night at their hotel after a show here at Cornerstone and the recent tour is fruit of that friendship. Roe first played a solo show at the Gallery tent touching on many of his classic solo songs mixed with some work from his band, The 77’s. After the show, I take a dinner break and watch a little bit of The Wayside at the Jesus Village Fish Fry and Something Something Else Tent. Michelle and John Thompson have served for years behind the stage working hard with bands here and it’s always fun to see them on the front of the stage for a change.

The evening shows feature Roe vs. Pritzl and The Lost Dogs. These are the veterans of Cornerstone and they always bring entertaining shows year after year. Roe vs. Pritzl was indeed all that I expected. Michael Roe and Michael Pritzl join forces to sing each others’ songs and take some playful digs at each other including the playing of the 77’s “Greatest Hit”, “The Lust, The Flesh, The Eyes, and The Pride of Life.” Afterwards, there was a fabulous sunset going on over the grounds, so I ran out to an open area and shot about a hundred photos. Just another beautiful day closing down here on the Cornerstone Farm.

I didn’t really have anything I was strongly adamant about seeing in the evening, so I moved around a whole lot and tried to catch as much as I could. I swung by the HM Mag tent where Whitecross, X-Sinner, Bride, and Bloodgood were bringing the 80’s back in a metal way. I saw a little bit of Bride and though I was never really a metal fan back in the day, they sounded great. I stepped over then to the Fat Calf Stage where Flatfoot 56 was playing another show. I’m surprised the tent was still left standing when the show was over. The concert brought perhaps the most worshipful moment of the fest so far for me when all these sweaty punk kids all sang “Amazing Grace” together at the end of the show. Gave me goosebumps, I’ll admit.

I swung down to the Dance Barn where my friend is keeping things moving along. His road-trip partner, Doug Theodore, was spinning and the crowd was just beginning to arrive. After that, I caught a little bit of The Myriad at the Gallery Stage. I heard that Jonezetta was doing another show at the Anchor Stage so I swung over there, but it was not to be. So, I headed back to the Gallery Stage to get a good seat for The Lost Dogs. The four veterans of Cornerstone, Derri Daughtery, Terry Taylor, Mike Roe, and Steve Hindalong delivered once again bringing smiles and howls from their long-time fans. They even indulged a couple of girls in a little karaoke for the night.

The weather had been cool all night, but by the end, I was freezing. As a Southern boy, I have a hard time reconciling shivering in July, but sure enough there I was shaking in my seat. Brrrr.

Cornerstone 2007, Day 2

After a week home, I’m going to document my week at Cornerstone Festival, mostly for my own archival purposes. This is built on posts on the blog with a little more details and commentary here.

Day 2 was a pretty big day for me. So far, the festival has been mostly about discovering bands that I’ve never heard of and that’s pretty cool, but I was ready to see some of my favorites like The Violet Burning, Anberlin, and Over the Rhine on Thursday.

However, the afternoon was usurped by some more new bands that I’ve never heard of and wow, was I impressed. We started off the day at the New Band Stage to see The Divine Soldiers. Unfortunately, they showed up late and only had time for two songs, but it was enough for some fun hip-hop with lush female background vocals. Too bad they couldn’t have played some more. After that, Tifah took the stage and I was taken by surprise by their intense but relaxed sound that reminded me a little of one of my favorites, Over the Rhine, though not exactly like them. A violin and electric guitars accompanied bass and drums with piano to produce a big sound. They even did a cover of Radiohead’s “Karma Police” which was totally different than the original, but impressive all on it’s own.

Micheal Pritzl performed a solo set at the Gallery stage before his set with The Violet Burning tonight. Pritzl took requests from the audience and even ribbed some of his friends like Doug Van Pelt of HM Magazine and John Thompson who watched on from the crowd. After that show, the band Paper Route played and I couldn’t get over how many different instruments each band member could play. They swapped guitars for keyboards and then for shakers and all sorts of stuff and took me by surprise.

The big news of the evening came when I learned that Relient K’s bus blew up. No really, as in burned to the ground on the way to Illinois. I hope everyone is okay. That was unfortunate for us because it totally changed the Main Stage schedule. That was good for Jonezetta, who gained a Main Stage slot and from what I hear rocked it out, that was bad for me because it pushed Anberlin into the headline slot and therefore in conflict with Leigh Nash. Bummer.

The power cut out during the middle of the Violets set, but it didn’t dampen the energy on stage. They still managed to bring enough rock to satisfy my rock n’ roll craving. After getting a great spot (and taking some of my favorite photos yet!) of The Violet Burning at the Gallery tent, I decided I’d best bunker down for the evening there. I wanted to run down to the Main Stage to see Anberlin, but that would probably mean giving up this prime real estate. Plus, it would also mean missing Ric Hordinski with Leigh Nash which was a combination that intrigued me to no end. So I stayed put.

The performances in between did far more than pass the time. Ric took the stage with his band Monk and jammed it out with his three-piece band. Hordinski’s bemused facial expressions are priceless and he has no fear of abusing his guitar as he runs the strings across the tent poll, slaps them with a guitar cord and in general, bangs the strings about as hard as he can. The bass player hopped around and bounced on his feet while the drummer was just as active. Rosie Thomas followed and I’ll admit that I’m only familiar with her work by way of Sufjan Stevens, but her squeaky voice is quickly replaced by beautiful singing. Her songs are beautiful and her stage banter is cute in an awkward way. Her alter-ego, Sheila, even made a guest appearance at the end of the show.

Monk proved to be a great backup band for Leigh Nash. I enjoyed her show last year where she was only accompanied by an acoustic guitar, but this show had a lot more depth to it. Michelle Thompson of The Wayside shared the stage to sing background for a couple of songs as Leigh Nash once again charmed us with her sweet vocals and banter about her son.

Over the Rhine is probably one of the big reasons I go to Cornerstone this, so this night was pretty much the apex of the festival for me. Thankfully, it wasn’t all downhill from there. Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler have become standards for this midnight slot at the Gallery tent and year after year they prove why they deserve it. The four-piece band with Mickey Grimm and Jake Bradley debuted many songs from their upcoming album The Trumpet Child. Grimm got halfway into an amazing drum solo when the power cut out again at the Gallery stage, but it didn’t deter the drummer as he frantically continued. In no time the power was back on and he never missed a beat. Good times.

I have to say that the ladies really brought their “A” game today. Between all the vocalists and instrumentalists in The Divine Soliders, Tifah, Rosie Thomas, Leigh Nash, and Over the Rhine, there was much talent to balance out the overwhelming testosterone in rock and roll here at Cornerstone and the festival is so much the better for it.