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Once upon a time...

Cornerstone 2001

This website is meant to serve as a place for me to tell about my experiences at Cornerstone 2001 (The Christian Music Festival). The next page of this site contains links to the photographs I took during my week at Cornerstone Farm, but I wanted to describe some of my experiences in words as well. If you'd rather not read my story and would like to just see the pictures or if you've already read it once, click here. Otherwise, get ready for story time.

Luxury Guitars

My excitement was building as it grew closer and closer to my very first Cornerstone experience. I had attempted to prepare myself for this week of music by talking to people who had been there before and by reading about the festival on the official website and a helpful personal website, but nothing could truly prepare me for what was lying ahead of me.

I had made arrangements to meet up with two of my friends, Debbie and Quin, at a McDonald's in Peoria on the afternoon of July 2nd.

Luckily, no one got lost on the way, and we successfully met up with plenty of time to make it to Cornerstone farm and set up our campsite. After setting up the tent, we got right back in the car to head to Galesburg and the Pre-Cornerstone concert.

In truth, I had been looking forward to the Pre-Cornerstone concert at least as much, if not more so, than the festival itself, since two of my favorite bands - Seven Head Division and The World Inside - were going to be performing there.


Pre-Cornerstone Feet

It was amazing to hear and see them play live again, even if their sets were both cut short due to time constraints. The night also allotted us the opportunity to talk to the guys about their trip out to Illinois and to confirm which shows they were going to be playing at Cornerstone. While these two bands didn't actually get to play their own music at Cornerstone, we had a great time following them around to the various shows they were playing back-up on and hanging out around Cornerstone Farm with them.

It was also exciting to meet two more Poor Old Lu-loving zonies (i.e. people who frequent the CCM Chat site), Luke and Pamela. We had hoped to meet up with Lex, another one of us, at the Pre-Cornerstone show, but unfortunately due to a car mis-hap we had to wait a couple days to meet up with him when we joyfully discovered that he had camped not two tents away from our site.

After the evening's festivities were over, we all headed back to Cornerstone Farm to spend our first night in the tents which we had set up on the hill by the "Cornerstone University" tents. While the temperature was comfortable and there was plenty of space in the tent, it was somewhat difficult to sleep on the incline, as we had to try to keep ourselves from sliding down the hill.


Blue Light

The next day was Tooth and Nail day at Cornerstone, which meant that the only music going on was that of the two Tooth and Nail stages. Thus, we had to brave sizable crowds to see the bands we had come to see. The crowds only got larger as a torrential down-pour began. The three of us (Quin, Debbie and I) had come to the tent early, in order to watch Joel, Brian and Jesse (of The World Inside and Seven Head Division) back up MG! The Visionary; however, the guys only ended up playing one song with MG.

While waiting for the MG set, we had the opportunity to listen to many bands some that were pretty good, and some that we might rather have missed, but the rain kept us inside the tent even after the lightning struck, which took out the power for awhile. The rain eventually died down, and we made our way to the other Tooth and Nail tent just in time to watch The World Inside/Seven Head Division guys playing with Mike Knott. I had really enjoyed seeing these guys play their own music at the Pre-Cornerstone concert, but seeing them play in this different style really impressed upon me how talented they are (and this was only the beginning). After the Mike Knott set was over, it was time to head back to the first tent to await the event which had brought us to Cornerstone. Poor Old Lu - back together again!



Again, we had to wait through some bands that we would have liked to have missed, in order to make our way to the front of the crowd to gain a good vantage point to take photographs from and to hear Poor Old Lu play. By the time Poor Old Lu's set came around the crowd was packed and the energy was high! We apparently weren't the only ones anxiously awaiting this reunion. The set was amazing and worth the wait. After the lights had dimmed on that show, we left the tent and made our way to some very cold showers before our first shift as volunteers.

The three of us had been given the opportunity to serve as overnight security during the festival. This meant that we had the pleasure of sleeping in various places to keep people from stealing art or equipment. Debbie and I slept on tables in the Artrageous tent amongst paintings, photographs and sculptures, which was a great job with the exception of being awakened to the sounds of chainsaw art in the morning. Quin, however, spent his nights on the Cornerstone Magazine stage, which meant that he was kept awake until quite late as people packed up instruments after the last performance of the evening.



July 4th brought the three of us out of our tents to see Andy, Joel and Brian (Seven Head Division) play a set with Dirt, and again their versatility amazed me. These guys can go from playing their original music to backing up a rock legend like Mike Knott to playing some pretty mean hip-hop stylings with Dirt and MG without missing a beat (both metaphorically and literally). Not only are these guys incredible musicians, but they are also great guys. It was fun to get to hang out with them and get to know them a little better as we ran into them time and time again at the shows they were playing, at the merchandise table, and randomly along the festival road.

I had been looking forward to finally getting to see the 77s play live on the 5th of July, but I was in for an Independence Day surprise. While hiking back from the Waterdeep show on the Main Stage, which had been cut short by yet another power outage, I overheard a conversation which stopped me in my tracks. Apparently, Iona had canceled and the 77s were given the chance to play on the Main Stage. I quickly turned around and hiked right back out to the Main Stage basin. I got there just in time to get to the front of the crowd (thanks to some very nice tall guys who let this short girl with a camera get in front of them) and wait for the power to come back on. I was almost overwhelmed as I watched these legends performing on stage, and I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face as I nearly ran back to the Encore 2 Stage to meet up with Quin and Debbie to watch Mike Knott's second set.

My Foot


Once again, the power situation altered our plans (as well as the plans of many other fans) a bit, and we were only able to watch the first few songs of Mike Knott's set before heading to out to our posts as Overnight Security. Jesse, Brian and Joel once again backed Mike up and played with as much energy and skill as I have come to expect from them.

Wednesday was a big day for me. It started with more Poor Old Lu and ended with Pedro the Lion with some 77s in the middle.

My two amigos and I (yes, we were practically attached at the hip) decided to stake out good spots for the second Poor Old Lu set and were glad that their set was first on the stage that day. That meant that there would be no sitting through any random bands in order to gain a front row position. We did, however, end up listening to a seminar while we waited. The second Poor Old Lu set was again a treat, even if the crowd's energy was not quite as high as it had been on the first night. While I had come to love the music of Poor Old Lu via their albums, there's just nothing like seeing a band perform live!

The Crowd

Baby Feet

It was also fun to meet back up with Pamela and spend a bit of time with her and her adorable baby before the show. While I took a lot of photographs of bands and such during the festival, I have to admit that some of my favorite shots were of Emmett.

Later in the day we found out that Mike Roe was not going to be playing his acoustic set, which saddened me. However, in his place, Stickman Jones played on the Acoustic Stage and Jesse and Andy were afforded the opportunity to play percussion with another band. Naturally Debbie, Quin, and I were there to watch and take pictures.

One of the very rare occasions in which Debbie, Quin and I did not all attend the same show occurred on the evening of the 5th. I parted ways with my comrades to take in Daniel Amos and the 77s on the Gallery Stage for Legends night. The 77s again floored me with both the classics and some new songs. As I looked around the tent at the 77s show, it hit me once again just how diverse the people are who attend Cornerstone. From the old-timers at the 77s, to the hippies at Miranda Stone, and the hip-hop scene at Dirt and MG, there was just such a vivid display of the unity of Christ through the diversity of man among the people I came across. It was a beautiful thing.

Michael Roe


Although my Overnight Security shift was supposed to start at midnight, my partner in crime, Debbie, and I made arrangements to take turns seeing a couple of after midnight shows. I have already thanked her a number of times, but I want to do it again here. Thank you Debbie! The Pedro the Lion show was...well, I'm not sure I can put it into words, but I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to be a part of it. David Bazan is a very wise man, and I appreciated very much the opportunity to hear him speak and perform. I laughed, I cried, I worshiped and I was challenged all in one set.

Day four of Cornerstone 2001 brought another of the shows that I had specifically come to see - Aaron Sprinkle, guitarist for Poor Old Lu, performing his solo material on the Acoustic Stage.

Aaron's music has had me captivated since the moment I put Moontraveler into my CD player for the first time; I was just as entranced by his live performance. His music has touched my life, and being at his performance was an experience I'll treasure for years to come.

It also afforded us the chance to meet up and hang out with Luke as well as Lex, who had serendipitously ended up camping not two tents away from us.

Aaron's Guitar


That evening we had the opportunity to see Miranda Stone play again with Jesse behind the drum set. I had enjoyed hearing her music for the first time at the Pre-Cornerstone show, where she had roped Joel and Jesse into playing with her at the last minute, and her performance at Cornerstone was even more interesting with the numerous musicians who joined her on stage.

The final day of Cornerstone 2001 was incredibly hot, and the heat drained us so much that we didn't make it to as many shows as we had originally intended to see that day. We did, however, end up seeing Luxury play on a small stage. We also made it to the Larry Norman and Third Day Main Stage performances. Our Overnight Security obligations were over on Friday night, and so we headed to the after midnight Starflyer 59 show.

By that point in the festival we were all so tired, and so sick of taking photographs (I wouldn't have believed it myself, if I weren't there) that we decided to sit at the back of the tent and just listen. The music was lovely and apparently quite soothing, since at least two of us ended up sleeping through most of the set.

We were all exhausted and somewhat depressed on that last night - Could Cornerstone 2001 really be coming to an end? Were there to be no more ice-cold after-midnight showers? No more sulfur water to brush our teeth in? No more waking up to the sound of chainsaws?

Brian's Feet


My first Cornerstone experience was an incredible mix of emotions. There was joy, sadness, exhaustion, laughter and plenty of silliness. It was great to finally meet some of my friends from the zone and to spend more time with the friends I had already met. I will not soon forget the time I spent with these very special individuals, and I consider it an honor to call them friends.

I also count it a joy to have gotten to know Jesse, Brian, Joel and Andy better over the course of the week.

The sun had set on Cornerstone 2001, but my week of music wasn't actually over yet. I got the opportunity to end my week the same way I started it - by hearing Seven Head Division play. On Friday, the guys got a last minute show with Mike Knott in Chicago (my home town) for Sunday night, but didn't have any details. I eventually found out where Mike was supposed to be playing and made it back to Chicago just in time to quickly unpack the car, take a decent shower, and head out to the Subterranean Lounge and Cabaret on the north side.



While I was quite tired, my exhaustion couldn't keep me from going out to support these guys. Seven Head Division played a four song set, and Jesse, Joel and Brian played with Mike for the third time that week. The week couldn't have ended on a better note. I eventually made my way back home after this Post-Cornerstone show, and attempted to re-adjust to living in the real world.

Cornerstone 2001 was an awesome experience, and one I won't soon forget. Thanks to all the people who went into making that week of my life an event to remember.

To anyone who made it this far,

I thank you for sharing in my Cornerstone experience. I hope you enjoyed reading about my time. Please click here to continue on to the pages of photographs that I took during the festival. Enjoy!