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Peter T Chattaway

R.I.P. Cornerstone Festival (1984-2012)

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A friend forwarded this e-mail on another list; apparently it was sent out to ticketholders recently.

A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FROM CORNERSTONE FESTIVAL

May 15, 2012

Dear Cornerstone Festival Family:

We are so grateful to have been able to share with you the gift that has been Cornerstone Festival all these years. Our annual gathering in this truly special community has shaped and illuminated our journeys together and apart, beginning in 1984, when the first Cornerstone drew 5000 people to a small fairgrounds outside Chicago. Through our peak years in the 90s when tens of thousands celebrated this festival's amazing unity-in-diversity amid the Midwestern countryside, to more recent belt-tightening days, we've traveled our ups and downs together in a way that will be a part of our lives forever.

In 2012, we'll be celebrating one final Cornerstone Festival together. Based on a range of factors ^V including changes in the market and a difficult economy ^V the timing seems right. This was obviously a hard decision, wrestled with over years and particularly over recent months. But with the decision made, we have the opportunity to come together one last time and bring to a happy, grateful ^V if tearful ^V close to this chapter of our lives.

Given this change, we'll be making some adjustments to the lineup and schedule in the days ahead. Without giving too much away, we can say that we'd like to make this a special gathering to remember, to share stories and encourage one another with the vision of Cornerstone in ways that look back and ahead toward new things God is doing. Along with activities like art workshops, kids' programs, seminars, games, movies ^V and MUSIC, of course ^V Cornerstone 2012 promises to be a time of thankful reflection and sharing among people who've walked this significant part of their life's journey together.

Keep checking our website and Facebook page for changes and latest information.

Most of you know that Cornerstone Festival grew out of a labor of love from our church and community, Jesus People USA. The festival emerged from JPUSA's Cornerstone magazine and Resurrection Band. Our community continues to operate one of Chicago's largest homeless shelters, also bearing the name Cornerstone. We remain confident in God's faithfulness and grace to lead us on to new chapters in our ongoing journey.

Thanks again to everyone who's been a part of this amazing journey with us! What a privilege it's been. Most of all, thanks to Jesus: the stone rejected that became the true Cornerstone. Amen!

We look forward with mixed sadness and joy to seeing you all this summer, one last time on our Bushnell campground, for a very special Cornerstone Festival 2012.

In His grace,

Pastoral Team, Jesus People USA ^V Evangelical Covenant Church and The Cornerstone Festival Staff, Genesis Winter & Scott Stahnke, directors

FWIW, I became aware of the festival almost as soon as it began, thanks to magazines like Campus Life and The Wittenburg Door, but I only managed to go to the festival twice in the end. However, I'm really glad I was able to see the Daniel Amos reunion in 2000, and to speak at a couple of film seminars there in 2004.

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I just downloaded their lineup a few days ago. It had a lot of the same acts who had attended when I visited 15 years ago.

A Phantom Tollbooth podcast fr the fest a few years ago had a serious forboding: It used to be that one attended this festival to get your hands on to music you couldn't get anywhere else. New technology, digital distribution, social media, even this A&F board--this relaced Cornerstone Fest's need for existance.

A darn-tootin' shame. I was looking forward to bringing my kids in about eight years.

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I will be there this year, my 16th Cornerstone overall. It's a shame this will be the last one. The Fourth of July weekend won’t be the same without those trips to Bushnell. I have many great memories of Cornerstone, so many great shows in those tents late at night. And the Imaginarium tent which such a cool place for discussion about sci-fi and theology and geeky stuff, and a great place to just hang out. And the Flickerings Film Festival, the old barn where I first discovered the films of Bresson, Godard, Dreyer, and Rossellini. Not to mention the A&F folks I have met there: Jeffrey, Peter, Mike, Jim Tudor, Opus, Andy Whitman, and other fellow travelers.

Edited by Crow

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Crow, if I'm not mistaken, you're in this photo from Cornerstone 2000, yes? (That's me standing next to Terry Scott Taylor. And oh, he put his hand on me. HE PUT HIS HAND ON ME!! I was in heaven.)

post-46-0-26868200-1337194804_thumb.jpg

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Yes, I was in that photo, bottom right. I remember the gathering of the DADL (Daniel Amos Discussion List). All of us getting to meet Terry for the first time, and meet each other in real life, as well as the first time I met you, Peter. Good times! So many great shows that year: Daniel Amos, The Choir, Over the Rhine, Cush, the 77s, Ashley Cleveland, and the tribute to Gene Eugune.

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I know they keep saying '84-2012, but I swear there was a Cornerstone in 1983. When did they leave the Lake County Fair Grounds?

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1990 was their last year at the Lake County Fairgrounds. I remember that because the first year I made it to Cornerstone was the first year they had it at the Cornerstone Farm, which was 1991. I do wish I could have made it to one of the early years at the Lake County Fairgrounds, because of the closer proximity to some genuine Chicago deep-dish pizza.

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I've posted some thoughts, memories, and nostalgia trips over on Opus.

Come the first week of July, I would make the trek to Bushnell, Illinois along with a group of Nebraska friends. We’d invariably meet up with a host of new and old friends from around the world once we got there, and spend the next week hanging out, seeing awesome concerts, and generally enjoying what several of us came to consider a true slice of heaven on earth.

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My strongest Cornerstone memory is mainly for the irony...but it was listening to some punk guys with mohawks complain about Goth kids and how they didn't "look like Christians." It was kind of surreal.

Otherwise, it was all the music and getting to interact with other fans, the artists and so on.

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My strongest Cornerstone memory is mainly for the irony...but it was listening to some punk guys with mohawks complain about Goth kids and how they didn't "look like Christians." It was kind of surreal.

Heh… While never much of a goth myself, I did spend a lot of my Cornerstone time hanging out at The Asylum (the unofficial Cornerstone goth tent). And we, i.e., everyone inside that tent, received many an odd look, criticism, etc. from a diverse group of passersby, many of whom were equally weird-looking.

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I also fondly remember going to a seminar on the Simpsons and there was this guy sitting next to me being all buggy. In the Q&A he stood, gave a long rant about how the Simpons were a part of the Illuminati One World Government Plot... he cited specific scenes to prove it. Then he ran away. It was really weird.

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My strongest Cornerstone memory is mainly for the irony...but it was listening to some punk guys with mohawks complain about Goth kids and how they didn't "look like Christians." It was kind of surreal.

Otherwise, it was all the music and getting to interact with other fans, the artists and so on.

The only time I was at Cornerstone my wife and I were picked up at the Peoria airport and driven through miles of cornfields by a guy who looked like Dracula. He actually gave us an excellent primer on Goth culture and its intersection with Christianity, and invited us to the Goth tent to see his band's show. We went, and I'm glad we did.

That was the year my wife and I were the two people at Cornerstone impersonating middle-aged suburban midwesterners.

I'm sorry to hear about Cornerstone's demise.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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Here’s a trip down memory lane. Someone posted to YouTube the sets from the 77s, Daniel Amos, and Steve Taylor from the first Cornerstone in 1984. This is the time when Steve jumped off the stage and broke his ankle. Also you can see Mike Roe do his best David Byrne impersonation during his song "It's So Sad", and a glorious display of (un)forgettable '80s fashion sense.

Edited by Crow

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Here’s a trip down memory lane. Someone posted to YouTube the sets from the 77s, Daniel Amos, and Steve Taylor from the first Cornerstone in 1984. This is the time when Steve jumped off the stage and broke his ankle. Also you can see Mike Roe do his best David Byrne impersonation during his song "It's So Sad", and a glorious display of (un)forgettable '80s fashion sense.

This is why I said there was a C-stone '83. I was there when Steve broke his ankle, and I could have sworn it was the second year I was at C-stone.

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John J. Thompson (The Wayside) has posted a nice remembrance of the festival on Christianity Today.

This annual experience sparked a dream in my heart, and I have been following it ever since. Every aspect of my life has been touched by this community, and after this week, it's as if my hometown is being wiped from the map or my native language is being officially retired. I fully believe the church is witnessing the end of a very important era.

Cornerstone should not be dismissed as merely a contemporary Christian music festival; such events about from coast to coast, and even on cruise ships, attracting millions of CCM fans. But there has only ever been one Cornerstone, where much of what is heard and said would curl the hair of the average Christian radio fan. And I'm not even talking about the music yet!

There's nothing wrong with Christian music festivals. But when one closes, like Spirit West Coast did this year, others will fill the void. Fans of those events have plenty to choose from. But when Cornerstone closes up shop, nothing will fill its shoes. Many of the surface level fruits of Cornerstone are being replicated elsewhere, but the heart and passion behind the festival are unlikely to be repeated unless done so by Jesus People USA (the Chicago folks who run the event), or a group of like-minded Christians.

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John J. Thompson (The Wayside) has posted a nice remembrance of the festival on Christianity Today.

This annual experience sparked a dream in my heart, and I have been following it ever since. Every aspect of my life has been touched by this community, and after this week, it's as if my hometown is being wiped from the map or my native language is being officially retired. I fully believe the church is witnessing the end of a very important era.

Cornerstone should not be dismissed as merely a contemporary Christian music festival; such events about from coast to coast, and even on cruise ships, attracting millions of CCM fans. But there has only ever been one Cornerstone, where much of what is heard and said would curl the hair of the average Christian radio fan. And I'm not even talking about the music yet!

There's nothing wrong with Christian music festivals. But when one closes, like Spirit West Coast did this year, others will fill the void. Fans of those events have plenty to choose from. But when Cornerstone closes up shop, nothing will fill its shoes. Many of the surface level fruits of Cornerstone are being replicated elsewhere, but the heart and passion behind the festival are unlikely to be repeated unless done so by Jesus People USA (the Chicago folks who run the event), or a group of like-minded Christians.

I don't mean to be polarizing - well, maybe I do a little - but I am so saddened to see this CCM festival is dying while others linger on. Nothing else will fill it's shoes indeed. Well, hopefully something will. For those of us still struggling to reconcile faith and art, faith and day-to-day life in America, Cornerstone was an event that was truly an honor to it's name. An event one could look to as an anchor. Had I the time and money, I'd have been there more often and supported it more fully. I count as a blessing my one trip there. It will be deeply missed.

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Stef, I believe there was a C-Stone '83 as well. I thought the first year I went was the second year of the festival. Maybe, just maybe, the '83 Cornerstone in question wasn't an "official" festival in terms of promotion and such.

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J. Henry Waugh, the Adam Again shows were legendary at C-Stone every year they played. It was a much anticipated artist at the festival and NOT to be missed. They packed the tent!

I am a 16 year veteran and I think I am going to leave in the next hour to be there the last day. If there was no C-stone '83 then I was at the first and will be at the last.

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I am back home from Cornerstone, and it was an amazing experience. It was the hottest Cornerstone ever, literally, with temperatures over 100 degrees by the end of the week. But I did get to hang out with old friends from our Camp 77s campsite, and I got to talk to J. Robert Parks. Highlights included some energetic reels by Iona, smoking hot set by Ashley Cleveland and Kenny Greenberg, Neal Morse getting some serious prog on, and sets by old favorites like The Violet Burning, The Choir, and the 77s. I also discovered some cool new bands: The Soil and the Sun, which was kind of a cross between Fleet Foxes and Waterdeep, Kye Kye, kind of an heir apparent to the great Echoing Green, and Sean Michael, who was a guitarist who plays some down and dirty delta blues. Glenn Kaiser played a set playing a cigar-box guitar with a terrific harmonica player named Joe Filisko. In the Imaginarium I heard a fascinating series of talks on spiritual and moral themes in the Joss Whedon-verse. I missed the Blue Like Jazz screening, but I heard they had about three hundred people there.

The craziest, and most fitting, event of the week was when a group of people built a longboat, carried it down the main road to the beach, and set it into the lake. Then they set the boat on fire, as a kind of Viking funeral for Cornerstone. The Choir played the last gig of the fest, ending their set with their song "To Bid Farewell," which was a very emotional way to end it all. One speaker at the fest described Cornerstone as "the island of misfit toys", a place for people to find acceptance who don't feel part of the rest of the American Evangelical subculture. That is how I have always thought of Cornerstone, the only place where dorky white guys like me can hang out with Christian punks, metalheads, hippies, goths, comic book geeks, and a lot of other cool crazy folks. Cornerstone will be sorely missed. But I think the spirit of it will live on. Jesus People USA are planning on opening a music venue in north Chicago where they can host shows. Shoot, just with all the talented musicians within JPUSA, they can host a street festival kind of thing. And I hope someone will put on an Imaginarium somewhere.

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