Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
By Trish Patterson
It was 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 4 that I departed from my home in New Orleans headed toward Bushnell, Illinois, to attend Cornerstone 2000. The thirteen and a half hour road trip was quite pleasant. I listened to a number of CD's by various artists who would be playing at the fest along with a few others by artists who are no longer with us (i.e. Rich Mullins). This was my third year at the fest, and it proved to be the best one yet.
I arrived in Macomb, IL, at 6:00 p.m. and checked into the motel (my version of camping). After getting somewhat settled, I headed toward the farm. It had already been raining, so I wore a pair of "it's okay if these get ruined" shoes. Upon arrival at the fest, I went to check in with Compassion International as I serve as a volunteer and to see the staff of The Legacy of a Kid Brother of St. Frank (they'd already called it a day). Then I headed toward The Phantom Tollbooth tent and said "Hello" to some old friends and introduced myself to others who I only knew via e-mail. That's one of the nice things about Cornerstone--putting faces with names! Having glanced at the schedule, I then headed toward the Gallery Stage to see Monk. Although I enjoyed what I heard, I only stayed for a few songs then called it a night knowing that there was a show I wanted to see each night of the fest at midnight. I had wanted to see The Wayside's set too but opted for sleep. Of course, Lisa (Reid) , my C-stone roommate of three years, informed me that The Wayside were excellent.
On Wednesday, with plenty of water and a portable chair in tow, I got to the farm and headed toward The Legacy of a Kid Brother of St. Frank's booth to say hello to the staff. (The Legacy was established to continue the ministry begun by the late Rich Mullins to Native American children.) After that, I went to the Acoustic Stage to catch Steve & Derri's (The Choir) excellent set. It was very crowded, so I ended up sitting behind the stage. Kemper Crabb was up next. I listened to a few of his songs before heading over to the Press Tent to get my credentials. While at the Press Tent, fellow Tollbooth staff member Dave Draeger passed by, and we made our way through the mud to hear a bit of The Violet Burning. We left there and went back to the Acoustic Stage to hear Mark Townsend and Miranda Stone. I'd only heard Townsend on electric guitar while playing with Knapp and dc Talk, but his acoustic set was pretty good. I loved when he and a friend played "Bohemian Rhapsody," a song by the group Queen, to conclude his set. Stone's set was rockin', as usual. She hosted a free vegetarian dinner for those who had a fork and plate. It was one way she used to build community.
At this point, Dave and I parted company, and I caught a couple of songs by Glenn Kaiser on my way down to Main Stage to work for Compassion International. I caught the end of the W's show and heard Jennifer Knapp and Third Day while I was working. Around 11:30 p.m., several of us Compassion volunteers made our way to see the Lost Dogs. The Gallery was so crowded that the only place we could get was an open area on the side of the stage. I found an opening in-between the speakers and sound board to where I could see the band. (This ended up becoming my spot for other shows held on the Gallery Stage.) The Lost Dogs' set was wonderful. I'm not familiar with a lot of their music, but it's the sort of rock 'n' roll I grew up with. The audience seemed to enjoy themselves, and it was quite apparent the band members were having so much fun making music together. It was great.
Thursday morning required that Lisa and I get up rather early because we were co-hosting the Seventh Annual RMC, etc. BBQ/Picnic (formerly known as the RMC BBQ) along with Shari Lloyd and Linda J. T. LaFianza, co-publishers of The Phantom Tollbooth. Lisa and I picked up the food then headed out to the farm. With the help of a bunch of the guys, we got everything ready for our anticipated 131 guests. The luncheon, including a CD/book exchange, was a huge success.
After the picnic, I wanted to see the Altar Boys but opted to return to my motel room to catch up on some sleep because I wanted to be awake for the Daniel Amos show at midnight. Too bad for me, because I heard rave reviews about the powerful and passionate set Mike Stand and the Altar Boys played. Oh, well. I also missed Greg Lawless (Adam Again) and Kate Miner on the Acoustic Stage that afternoon. Perhaps another year. Upon returning to the farm, I went to the Main Stage to catch the end of Fono and the 77s. Both were good. Some people were disappointed that the 77s played a lot of new material instead of their older stuff, but I walked down close to the stage and thought they played a good set. Loved Mike Roe's #77 football jersey. I wanted to catch part of Resurrection Band's set and needed to get to the Underground Stage to hear Farquar Muckenfuss, so I left near the end of the 77s show. I heard Rez Band play a couple of songs, including the oldie "Don't You Want Somebody to Love?" Wendi Kaiser sings with passion. Very nice.
I made my way over to the Underground Stage to hear Farquar Muckenfuss. I'd written a review on their album, and the drummer, Harvey, had asked me to stop by to say "hello" at the fest. When I arrived back stage, there was a guy on the ground rapidly doing push-ups. That was Harvey. We chatted for a minute, and then they were on. It was an entertaining show. They use some interesting props and costumes. If you like sci-fi and surf/rockabilly music, check these guys out. They're a scream. Next up I wanted to see Delirious? on Main Stage, but skipped their set due to lack of energy. Instead I went to the Gallery Stage to get ready to hear Daniel Amos. Yes, I got to my spot and relaxed while the band was performing their sound check. At midnight, Daniel Amos took the stage and rocked the house. Again, I'm a relatively new fan, so I'm not familiar with a lot of their music. However, the band's music is the kind I grew up listening to, so I loved it. One of the highlights was when the band members left the stage and they allowed substitute musicians from the audience to fill-in for them on "I Love You #19." That was not planned, and those guys were fabulous. Bruce A. Brown nailed the drums and John J. Thompson (True Tunes/The Wayside) smoked on Phil Madeira's Hammond B-3. (I don't know the names of the other musicians.) Then Daniel Amos took the stage again and allowed anyone who wanted to to go up on stage and sing along with them on another song. Lots and lots of fun. (No, I didn't go on stage.)
Friday's schedule allowed me to sleep in a bit. I made it back to the fest in time to hear the promising new act, Sam Ashworth (Charlie Peacock's son) and CCM pioneer Larry Norman, who is always entertaining and edifying. That was the second time I'd seen Mr. Norman perform and look forward to seeing him again in the future. He spoke from his heart. I put my Compassion International hat back on during Ballydowse and Bill Mallonee and the Vigilantes of Love. (By the way, a record total of 431 children were sponsored by the end of the fest.) VoL is one of my favorite bands. They performed a lot of new material. It wasn't my favorite VoL show, but it was still a great show. After that, I went to the Prom at the Dance Club to hear a few songs by Jason & the G-Men. Although they were good, it wasn't what I expected (for some reason I expected loud). People were dancing and seemed to be having a good time. I left after a few numbers to get ready for the Gene Eugene Tribute.
When Cornerstone announced that Adam Again would be in the band line-up, I was psyched because I'd never seen them before but had heard good things about the band. At midnight, the remaining members of Adam Again took the stage, and Riki Michelle served as hostess for the evening. After performing a couple of songs, she invited some of Eugene's closest friends to the stage one at a time to sing some of his songs. Guests included Derri Daugherty, Mike Knott, and Mike Roe among others. Although most of the friends didn't comment much, it was a nice tribute to Eugene. I understand that it took all they had in them just to get up and sing those songs.
Now it's Saturday--the last day of the fest. A group of us went to the Label Showcase to hear Earthsuit. Although I don't generally listen to that style of music, I was impressed. The band is from my home town of New Orleans, but I'd never heard them play before Cornerstone. My 17-year old daughter would probably like them! We then took our annual group picture in The Phantom Tollbooth tent. After that I went to the Acoustic Stage and heard several wonderful artists on Silent Planet Records including Matt Auten, Jan Krist (she was wonderful!), Skatman Meredith (he had the flu but performed anyway!), Rick Unruh, Phil Madeira & Friends (including Jeff Elbel of Farewell to Juliet and Pong), and Terry Taylor & Friends (his song "Piehole" and "Pretend I'm Elvis (for Just One Night)" are hilarious). (NOTE TO CORNERSTONE: If possible, the Acoustic Stage needs to be larger and placed away from stages playing loud music. The artists on the Acoustic Stage often found themselves competing with other bands playing at the same time.)
Later on that evening I went to the Ashley Cleveland Meet and Greet and then to her concert. Ms. Cleveland and band put on a stellar performance as usual. Both Cleveland and husband Kenny Greenberg put their entire beings into their set to the point that the audience is intensely feeling their passion for what they do. Michael Rhodes (bass) and Chris McHugh (drums) were back there keeping the beat steady. Very powerful set.
And last, but certainly not least, was The Choir. I chose The Choir over Over the Rhine only because I've seen the latter before. The Choir's set was super. Someone commented that it was the best Choir concert they'd heard. By 1:00 a.m. I was beginning to fade and started thinking about the long drive back to New Orleans on Sunday morning, so I called it a night.
There were so many good artists and speakers on the program that I missed seeing a number of bands and failed to sit in on any of the seminars this year. It was impossible to fit everything in.
Sunday morning I got up and after hugging Lisa good-bye, headed back to New Orleans at 9:00 a.m. and arrived home at approximately 10:45 p.m. Somehow, each year the drive seems less and less burdensome. My 17-year old daughter called me on my cellular phone about three times that day checking on my whereabouts. Michelle had stayed with my parents all week, and she sounded delighted to hear her mother's voice again. When I arrived home, she had gone off with friends for a little while. (She did return home shortly and we played cards and talked.) DJ, our faithful mixed terrier, was there when I opened the door, very glad to see her owner after nearly a week's absence.
Cornerstone Festival has proven to be a time of not only great music and seminars, but a time to network and develop/strengthen relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ. It's a time when the musicians whose music you love will sit right next to you in the audience while watching a fellow artist perform or perhaps give you a big hug when they see you.
This was the best fest yet
for me personally. Thanks to JPUSA for hosting Cornerstone Festival each
year. And special thanks to everyone I came in contact with.
You guys rock and made my week a very pleasant one.