It was announced earlier this year that, due to financial difficulties (editorial comment: surely exasperated by the failed economic policies of the last few years), that this is the final Cornerstone. The scope of the program this year was greatly reduced and any bands that wished to play would do so for free. Given that, it was an excellent fest.
I arrived on Tuesday and was pretty excited that, with the temps in the mid-90’s, I was able to get my tent assembled by myself. After wiping my brow I noticed I had 2 tent poles left over and had some reconstruction to do. And then it got hot. The next 4 days were well over 100 degrees.
The high temps cut down on my plans to visit the generator stages and, indeed, I spent most of my time at the Gallery stage with a few trips to the Underground stage to see old JPUSA bands like Crashdog and The Blamed, plus an old personal favorite, Ilia.
Every night at the Gallery there was at least one band that made the trip worthwhile. Tuesday night it was The Listener. The band played many songs from their upcoming CD and it seems there are going to be more electric guitars on the new CD.
Wednesday night was magic with Ashley Cleveland and her husband playing acoustic guitars.
Old Cornerstone favorites, the 77’s, did an unplugged set but by the end of the night they were a full electric band. Most excellent. Here is one of their classics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9ohPQt4-zI&feature=related I have since bought one of their first CD’s, the eponymous “77’s”. This CD is on HM Magazines 100 greatest Christian CD’s list.
Thursday night belonged to Iona. If you ever get a chance to see this band do it. The worship was so ecstatic I thought Joanne Hogg was going to burst out in tongues. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJMcZSOq6Aw Iona was followed by a new band for me, Aradhna. This band is a fusion of western guitar and Indian Sitar. The mood is sublime when they play. I picked up one of their CD’s and love it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJE5Aeh9l9A
Friday night was the best of the fest. After watching shows by Crashdog and Destroy Nate Allen at the Underground stage I settled in for the progressive rock of Neal Morse. This is a large band and I was surprised they did not cancel when asked to do it for free. And they put on an impressive show…but the night belonged to the Violet Burning. The VB is playing the best they ever have while supporting their 3 CD opus. Michael Priztl is a tremendous talent with a humble heart. They played a long set that finally ended at 2:30 AM. I broke my rule that says an overweight old man has no business wearing a rock band t-shirt and bought a VB tee. This show was the best I have ever seen at Cornerstone. Check out this youtube and, while there, catch the rest of the show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heB20qTHSEE
Friday was almost anti-climactic but still dazzled with a new band for me called Kye Kye and then Josh Garrells.
The seminar schedule was also reduced but there were two memorable ones. The first was a very interesting discussion of the Inklings and their writings. This included an in depth look at how C S Lewis and Tolkien wrote their novels. The other memorable seminar was put on by the head pastor and one of his associates in a discussion regarding how they came to form a church in Denver called Scum of the Earth. I bought his book if you want to know the story.
I am going to miss the friends I have made over the years. I finally introduced myself to a guy I had seen over the years and am sorry it took me so long to do it. Todd and Kim, if you read this, please contact me.
There is plenty of talk about how this cannot be the last Cornerstone. Perhaps it can be revived in a smaller version. All I know is that it has been a big influence on my life and it will be sorely missed.
I gotta go…