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Cornerstone 2004
By Trae Cadenhead
Photos by Steve White

Sunday, July 4

I overslept and was a bit late to the final session of "See Hear Now" where the ultimate reward was delivered: Christopher Walken dancing in a Fatboy Slim music video. Also, J. Robert Parks explained the opening of the film Ghost World and how it manipulates the viewer to see only through the eyes of a particular character. I can definitely say that I'll be looking at things closer now.

I had planned to see Bus 174 next, but I ended up talking with J. Robert and Doug Cummings for a while after the seminar about storytelling and comedy in film. My mind has really opened up about how to view things and think through films in a different way, something that will have an important impact in my life on how I make my own films. I got to eat lunch with Doug Cummings after J. Robert left and we talked about some more films. He told me about several European classics that I should see. I shared with him what I've done so far and where I'm trying to go as a filmmaker. It's so good to get to know people who care deeply about film.

The Best of Flickerings showcased the best short films shown earlier in the week. For the most part I found the films to be somewhat mediocre, but there were exceptions. The biggest of those exceptions was The Last Round, a 20 minute film about six strangers who meet to play Russion Roulette, knowing one will die. The tension in the film was incredibly thick and the plot twists were nice, taking the film in an unexpected direction. I'm looking forward to putting some new films of my own into the showcase next year.

After a few minutes of rest and preparation, I went to interview Sleeping at Last. Having already met the band members and talked with them throughout the week helped a lot in making the interview relaxed and fun. At the same time, the band provided a lot of insight into their meaningful, artistic music. They are one of the kindest, most earnest and appreciative bands I have ever spoken with.

My first show of the day was The Pale, an indie rock band from Washington who did a split CD with Copeland. The band's sound was very similar to Copeland in fact, though not quite as inspired. One of the songs had a definite Two Thirty Eight flavor to it, which was nice. In all, it was a pretty decent show.

Next was Kat Jones, who I had previously heard very little from. She was very nice when I met her earlier in the week, so I promised to come see her play. With a full band, she rocked out a bit, but also played some softer heartfelt stuff that won me over pretty quickly. It was a shame that she only got to play a 30 minute set because I definitely would have liked to hear more from Kat Jones. This first experience with her music was easily enough to convince me to buy her new CD.

It was great to see Questions in Dialect officially play at Cornerstone on the Decapolis stage. The band's 30 minutes on stage were quite amazing. The sprawling, beautiful instrumental music took on a life of its own. They didn't have a video screen on stage as they did the first time I saw the band, but I think I enjoyed Questions in Dialect more this time nonetheless. Fans of Sigur Ros should definitely check out Questions in Dialect.

Right afterwards I hurried to the Gallery Stage to catch Denison Witmer. He played a solid, heartfelt set with songs from all of his albums, even covering Jackson Browne's "These Days." There's something about Witmer's honest, soothing music that just gets me every time. Aside from some female background vocals from a friend, Denison Witmer played solo and did a great job.

Unwed Sailor followed Denison Witmer with their unique brand of instrumental music. If Questions in Dialect is a soundtrack for the highs and lows of life, Unwed Sailor is for the day in, day out working life. The band played a mix of songs from various albums they have made over the years, including a few new ones from the upcoming album Little Wars. It was a highly enjoyable set.

The final concert on the Gallery Stage for 2004 was Ester Drang. Last year I proclaimed them to have the best show of the festival. I think they actually topped it this time, though. The breathtaking atmosphere and beauty of the music was a thrill to drink in. This time the band had a projector playing perfectly edited video footage. The timing of the cuts with the beat of the song was absolutely impeccable. The visual element added to the sonic beauty made for an experience I will not soon forget. Some of the songs were brand new to be included on an upcoming album and many were from the brilliant Infinite Keys release. This was the best show I've seen since... yesterday.

My final conclusion is that Sleeping at Last and Ester Drang are in a dead heat tie for best show of Cornerstone 2004 in my book. As always there were many musical highlights this year, though.

Perhaps even more important to me than the music this year were the conversations. From talking with J. Robert Parks and Doug Cummings about film to getting to know amazing musical artists like Sleeping at Last and All Things Bright and Beautiful, these conversations meant a lot to me. This may not be the best Cornerstone ever in terms of musical lineup, but I feel that I have been more encriched this year than the previous festivals I have attended.

Cornerstone Festival is a crazy thing. There are thousands of voices telling you to check out this band or get involved with that organization. More importantly, there are many voices telling what or how to believe. Some of these even contradict each other at times. But the great thing about Cornerstone is the freedom to listen to the voices you want to hear. The kingdom of God is a lot more diverse than the local church we attend. There is truth to be found at Cornerstone and an ingrained truth that those who desire truth will seek it out. I thank God that such an opportunity exists.

Thursday Friday  Saturday

Trae Cadenhead is a student at Union University. He is pursuing a Digital Media Studies major with a Film Studies minor and plans to become involved in film making following school. Trae also has an enormous interest in music. Along with writing for the Tollbooth, Trae maintains Loconotion (, a digital archive of his
thoughts on music and movies as well as a gallery of the art and video work he has done.



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