Cornerstone Vids #14, Rich Mullins – 1997

When Rich Mullins first played at Cornerstone, it didn’t appear that it would be a good match. Cornerstone Festival has always been on the more progressive side and Mullins seemed to have the mainstream CCM image. On the contrary, Mullins came to Cornerstone and made it *his* festival. In the years that Rich played at Cornerstone, he was ubiquitous on the festival grounds, eating meals with others next to the Gallery stage, tromping around in his shredded jeans, showing up at friends’ concerts (and sometimes showing up on stage with them in guest appearances.) and talking with everyone and anyone. In 1997, Mullins brought with him with newly written musical Canticle of the Plains. The musical was written about the life of St. Francis of Assisi, but in an odd twist, set in the Old West with Cowboys and Indians and such. Mullins had only a bit part, a gun-toting cowboy with a girl on each arm in a bar, but his once-in-a-lifetime musical with a full cast of actors featured a unique performance different from the standard performances at the Gallery stage.

Rich Mullins also had a Main Stage slot at Cornerstone Festival 1997, introducing to the crowd a new set of songs that he was writing for an album that he simply titled Ten Songs About Jesus. Here in this clip, he performed one of the songs:

Unfortunately, the album was never completed as a car accident took Rich Mullins’ life later that year in September. Rich’s band, named A Ragamuffin Band, took up the demos that Rich had recorded and finished the album, titling it The Jesus Record. They performed most of the album the next year at Cornerstone Festival 1998 at a tribute concert to Rich Mullins that I was fortunate to attend.


At Cornerstone Festival 1997, Rich Mullins made many guest appearances, showing up on stage with Third Day, Caedmon’s Call, and This Train (maybe others, also, but those on the ones that I have audio/video evidence). Here’s Rich joining This Train for “Great Atomic Power”. Years later, bass player Mark Robertson told a story about how the piano was seriously messed up and caught Rich by surprise during their show. “If anyone has seen the video, I hope they can’t read lips.”

1 thought on “Cornerstone Vids #14, Rich Mullins – 1997

  1. Richard had a talent (among many others!) of participating with people and bonding to those around him, whoever they were.

    I once made the huge mistake of booking him for in a venue that had no piano–those were the days before he took up the hammered dulcimer.

    I think that’s probably in the short list of “stupidest mistakes I ever made.” I saw (and heard) a very similar reaction to the one you described. Though I was present, he saved that startling song for the dinner club manager’s ears, and then he negotiated a piano to play. He’d do anything he could not to disappoint his audience–or the One he was ultimately playing for.

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