Cornerstone Festival 2012 – Friday


In the post-processing Cornerstone phase. Sorting out all of my media (pictures, videos, music, etc.) and my thoughts. I’m reposting my blog posts from the Cornerstone Festival blog for archival purposes.

I’ve been doing a good job of being adventurous and checkng out all of the stages up to this point, but today I finally succumbed to the heat. Whatever was on the Chelsea Gallery stage was good enough and that’s not a terrible thing. The day started out at the Bushnell Locker for their infamous ribeye sammiches. These are the kind of traditions I will truly miss. There may be other festivals, and Lord willing there will be some festival like Cornerstone again some day, but I have my doubts I’ll ever have a ribeye sammich again. I almost assuredly will not enjoy it with friends in a butcher shop’s break room again, for sure.

Before we bury Cornerstone though there are still two days of music left and we started the day out with Relentless Flood at the Underground Stage which had some nice shreddy guitar and a drummer on vocals. After that I caught a second performance by Doug Mains and the City Folk. They seemed an odd fit on the normally metal Sancrosanct Stage, but they drew a nice crowd and delivered a nice set of folk music.

Maron Gaffron shared a scrapbook of pictures from her Cornerstone experiences all the way back to 1985. It was a lot of fun to see pictures of her as a child (weren’t we all?) at the early festivals all the way up to last year’s festival. The Maron of today played a nice soulful set and then joined Jeff Elbel for his show. Elbel pulled out all of the stops for his last show at Cornerstone even throwing in an enthusasitic cover of Adam Again’s “Deep.” Thanks for the bag of one hundred glow-in-the-dark bouncy balls, Jeff. My children will very likely set off some epic mischief with them. Of all the shows at Cornerstone, these are the ones I am saddest to see end. Many bands I will be able to catch on tour but it’s not likely I’ll see these bands again.

I tried to go over to see Don’t Wake Aislin on the Underground Stage, but after about two songs I reached the point where I was losing my will to live due to the heat. Nothing wrong with Don’t Wake Aislin, I had heard this would be their last show but was relieved to find out it’s because they are renaming and restyling themselves a little bit. Nonetheless, I couldn’t endure it and decided I would spend the rest of the evening under the shade of the Chelsea Gallery tent. Going to the Gallery stage proved fortuitous as I was able to see Trace Bundy on acoustic guitar. Bundy kept the crowd entertained with his multitude of capos even shifting them around the guitar in middle of songs. He also played “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder entirely using guitar and drum apps on his iPhone which was a lot of fun.

The highlight of the night next was Mike Mains and The Branches. The chairs at the front of the Gallery stage were pushed away as people danced in front of the stage. The show was straight up rock with some heartfelt lyrics. When the band beckoned the crowd to come up on stage I really felt like we had a genuine Cornerstone Moment. Neal Morse followed with progressive rock and it was overindulgent, ponderous, and complicated. I’m not gonna lie, the Yes fan in me loved every moment of it.

At the end of the night, The Violet Burning gave us what I like to call a “real Cornerstone Encore.” Years ago, the midnight encore shows used to run two or three hours late into the night, but the last few years the setlists have gotten shorter. Not so with The Violet Burning. After blazing straight through one-and-a-half of the three CD’s of The Story Of Our Lives. Micheal Pritzl took the band through an extended encore through some crowd favorites and even took a little time to call Mike Roe and leave a voicemail. I missed the Flatfoot 56 show where even our intrepid festival co-supervisor took a slide down the waterslide into the pool party, but I’m pretty it had it’s share of “Cornerstone moments” as well. For whatever reason, it always seems like the night before the last night has the big Cornerstone Moments and I’m glad that tradition continued to the end.

Cornerstone Festival 2012 – Thursday


In the post-processing Cornerstone phase. Sorting out all of my media (pictures, videos, music, etc.) and my thoughts. I’m reposting my blog posts from the Cornerstone Festival blog for archival purposes.

This is starting to feel like the journal of a foreign legion soldier in the Sahara. “The sun beat down upon me as I trudged along the path….” Yes, it’s still hot. Nonetheless, the show must go on. Ravenhill brought no less than seven members on the band for their performance on the Underground Stage and they pulled in the crowd with some tight jamming rock that reminded me just a little bit of The Black Keys with soul and rock.

Later in the afternoon we swung by the press tent to hear Jeff Elbel and Mike Roe talk about their experiences at Cornerstone and their future works. With the end fast approaching, people are trying to grapple with putting words to what it will mean to not come back here next year. It almost feels as if people are going to show up on this farm next year with their guitars whether or not there are any speakers, amps, stages, or chairs.

Closing out the afternoon on the Chelsea Gallery stage, The Wayside played their last show here. John and Michelle Thompson introduced new music from Michelle’s new ep and even brought their daughter up on stage to sing with them. If anyone is surely profoundly impacted by the end of Cornerstone, it’s the Thompsons as they shift to a new paradigm and platform to share their music, just as many artists here at the festival will have to do.

I passed by Da MAC doing hip-hop on the Underground Stage on my way to see Golden Sun on the Michigan Stage, but alas, no Golden Sun. Since I now had some open time I wandered over to the Arkansas Stage where Sean Michel was well under way. Michel’s delta blues were so effective that he conjured up the very humidity of the Delta and soon the grounds felt like a swamp. Drenched in sweat, I spent the rest of the early evening at the New Band Stage. The New Band Stage this year was hosted on the Impact Stage, a generator stage that was pretty professional. Two piece band The Bends played and were joined by the violinist from Doug Mains and the City Folk before they played their own show of laid-back music on violin, accordian, and cello.

Finally the sun went down and Icon for hire took over the Underground stage. The band has grown in leaps and bounds since their days on the generator stages years ago and it was clearly evident that they are well in swing of touring as they had the crowd eating out of their hands. Some trampolines, super soakers, and covering House of Pain’s “Jump Around” helps, too. I thought about walking over to the Gallery stage to catch the end of Iona’s show but at that point in the day I had used up all my energy for day. I’m sorry I didn’t as it turns out Iona stretched out their show since the following band Aradhna arrived late. For the last show of the evening, Squad Five-0 entertained the crowd at the Underground Stage as the lead singer crowd-surfed, sprayed water into the crowd and kept us entertained with jokes about my hometown Georgia.

Starting today, we start to get into the hometown stretch with some of my favorite bands, The Violet Burning and The Choir closing out the evenings. Up to this point, I don’t think the reality of the finality of the festival has set in on me yet but I expect it to start becoming something I will have to seriously contemplate soon.

Cornerstone Festival 2012 – Wednesday


In the post-processing Cornerstone phase. Sorting out all of my media (pictures, videos, music, etc.) and my thoughts. I’m reposting my blog posts from the Cornerstone Festival blog for archival purposes.

This is probably the last 4th of July that I will spend in Illinois. I’ve missed grilling burgers and watching fireworks with my family, but instead I get to drive through Macomb with its hundreds of American flags and listen to music. I’ll think about all of those flags and fireworks over the lake next year when I celebrate 4th of July with my family.

The heat is still here but I’m not jumping from stage to stage today. Since I’ve more or less settled into the Chelsea Gallery stage, I’m not having hallucinations and such in the middle of the afternoon and that’s probably a good thing. The first band I see today is David Curtis doing a solo show apart from his band, Run Kid Run. It’s not just a solo person on a guitar though, he has a nice sounding band behind him and do es some really nice music putting the crowd in the mood for worship. Oh Sister, Oh Brother plays next and they sound even better than I remember when I saw them at Cornerstone a couple years ago. They now remind me a little bit of Eisley with some nicely-structured songs.

The next show in the afternoon is not a concert but a celebration. Resurrection Band celebrates their 40th birthday with an open mike where people could come forward tell stories about how the band impacted their lives. Each of the band members milled about the crowd as a giant cake was cut up for the crowd. The celebration was a nice way to tie a bow on this part of Cornerstone. I’ve seen Resurrection Band in bits and pieces over my years here and I couldn’t help but think it’s probably the last time I’ll see them.

On into the evening it’s time for fun again. The Hollands (no relation to yours truly) start their show off with a cover of Over The Rhine’s “Poughkeepsie” which naturally has me hooked but then move into some original songs and some gospel spirituals performed on mandolin, banjo, guitar, and accordion. During one song, the band threw shakers, tambourines, and other noise makers into the crowd so they could participate. Pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve ever been pelted by something while taking photos at a show.

Taking a little break from the Chelsea Gallery Stage, I walked over to the Underground Stage where Ilia was cranking out some pretty strong rock. These three ladies worked extra hard to deliver as much music as twice as many men. Run Kid Run was the highlight of the night on the Underground Stage for me. A decent-sized crowd showed up and the band played a fun set of music that was a little more pop than what’s normally on the Underground Stage, but nonetheless really enjoyable.

Jerry posted a nice review of the 77’s show that closed down the Chelsea Gallery Stage for the evening. There was definitely a feeling of “let’s do this just one last time” that I think will get stronger as the week goes along. As John J Thompson noted from the stage, just because this festival is ending doesn’t mean these bands won’t continue working. We’ll have to work harder than ever to keep track of these bands and discover new ones without Cornerstone.

Cornerstone Festival 2012 – Tuesday


In the post-processing Cornerstone phase. Sorting out all of my media (pictures, videos, music, etc.) and my thoughts. I’m reposting my blog posts from the Cornerstone Festival blog for archival purposes.

Maybe I’m just in denial (I wonder if I will go through the other stages of grieving during the week, I’ll make sure to unleash anger at a hardcore show), but Cornerstone is off and running and it sort of feels like normal. There is a smaller crowd than normal, but many of the regulars are here. It’s funny how I see some of the same people year after year. I don’t know them very well but I can count on seeing wandering around the grounds almost as much a part of the festival as the tents. The tents are here too and if anything they look better than ever. The photographer in me loves the nice white tents. Maybe all of my concert photos this year won’t have that familiar red tint to them.

There aren’t as many bands that I want to see on Tuesday, most of the bands I want to see come later in the week. There are only two “official” stages, the Underground and the combined Chelsea and Gallery stage. Kiros starts off the day on the Underground stage and they are actually a lot of fun, much better than expected. Fun rock with a guitarist leaping across the stage, even hitting the light rack (oops). Little Brother has been forced to change their name so they are now Like Brothers. A little lighter but still a little bit of rock, they are pretty good also.

Triple Stitch started their show off with the doxology and then broke into some quality punk music. Loads of fun even in the heat. From there I walked over to the generator stages. The Generator stages this year are a little more “professional” and there are only about half of year’s present, but the do-it-yourself vibe is still there. Fight the Fade played some nice rock and we stayed to see She Said, but they never showed up. That’s generator stages for you.

The highlight of the afternoon shows so far was the return of Noah Reimer to the Gallery Stage. Some ten years ago he performed quite a few shows with his band Ticklepenny Corner. This year he was back with Duke Otherwise, his children’s band. His folk inspired fun songs about lions, monkeys, butterflies, and other animals had kids and their parents dancing, shouting, and having fun.

The late afternoon is for the generator stages for me today. We’re checking out a couple of bands and started with Carielle on the Michigan Stage and then Vice on Victory on the Impact Stage. The best band of the late afternoon for me was La De Les on the Gallery Stage. They were more of an abstract band, sort of like a more electronica Ester Drang for older Cornerstone days.

The heat has been unrelenting and I was swooning, so I laid low for a little while until the sun went down. I watch Ember Days, but I was still feeling pretty bad and then finally started to feel better during Good Luck Varsity. Of all the bands I saw on the first day, I think I enjoyed Good Luck Varsity the most. They were really active and were genuinely surprised when the crowd called them out for an encore. Rapper Da MAC joined them for their last song of the evening.

It doesn’t look like the heat is going away soon so hopefully we will acclimate to it. There’s only four days of Cornerstone left so fight through it!

Sunset of The Longest Day of The Year

I went for a run at sunset today. It was cathartic. I haven’t run very much lately and I am trying to get back into a regular schedule. It’s cheaper than therapy. I don’t usually make as big a deal about the summer solstice as I have the winter solstice, but I needed a little moment to pause and reflect. It has not been the easiest month. A couple weeks ago while home alone with the girls there was an accident and my daughter Erin ended up getting her legs scalded with boiling water. It was another trip to the Emergency Room where I have spent far too much time in the past year. Poor Erin had to have some surgery to prevent scarring and she has stayed home for a couple weeks wrapped up in bandages, but end is coming soon and she should be back in school before long. I’ve had to climb out of a deep hole of blaming myself as a negligent parent and feeling bad for her as well. We had a family vacation to Walt Disney World planned but that was postponed as well and I felt pretty bad about that as well. I’ve slowly been emerging from a pretty dark place and trying to get things back to normal.

Anyways, here we are and summer has arrived. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be heading up to Cornerstone Festival, which is going to be a massive onslaught of mixed emotions as I go to the last one. A couple weeks after that we will, hopefully, be going to Walt Disney World as our girls have patiently waited during the postponement. Hopefully somewhere in there we will fit in a trip to the beach and some other family vacations, too. I’m steeling myself for a couple months of a roller coaster of highs and lows.