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Diary of a Press Tent Volunteer – The Cornerstone 2008 Experience

By Moon Dancer

Publisher’s note: Once a year, that Shadowy Structure known as The Phantom Tollbooth takes on physical shape and runs press services for Cornerstone Festival. As a zero revenue publication, we rely on volunteers to make the magic happen. Here is one volunteer’s story. In the Press Tent and beyond . . . yes, we ARE taking applications for next year . . .”Press conferences, concerts, and celebrations, OH MY!”
And Away We Go – Cornerstone Festival 2008 - Day 1

Sunday – Travel Day – June 29, 2008

After a month or so of talking via email and Myspace messages, I met my Cstone travel buddies today. Yep, I was a little nervous. I’ve had never met these people before and have agreed to travel 9-10 hours into Mid-Western cornfields with them – OH…MY…what if they are stranger than I am???

The trip went well with Anna and Ben from Alabama. They camped near my crew and became part of the Camp 77s family. Welcome aboard peeps, your lives will never be the same. LOL.

Quiet Day – Cornerstone Festival 2008 - Day 2
Monday – Getting Set – June 30, 2008

I had a pretty good sleep last night. We set up camp in the dark so I didn’t realize until daylight that I had placed my tent very darn near the common water pump. Yep, I had the joy of a location change in the heat of the day.

Today was spent doing the initial walk-through of the Phantom Tollbooth Press Tent. This year, we are sharing the tent with Grrr Records, therefore, we are unable to decorate as much as we have in the past.

Banners were hung, people sweated, and thoughts of how we were going to handle the special task (and challenges) for Tollbooth 2008 were passed around.

The evening was spent in RV site A with the Dix’s. They prepared supper for the Tollbooth staff. It was good time to sit down and breath before the fest kicked into full swing.

Elwood was given the chance to hold a baby for the first time. AMAZING, he appeared to be an old pro. :)

Tomorrow, the Official Pre-fest activities began. More Press Tent set-up duties to be performed and more friends are scheduled to arrive.

A Little Dust – Cornerstone Festival 2008 – Day 3
Tuesday – First Sounds – July 1, 2008

Pre-Fest! Oh the sights, the sounds, the…well…just the.

Today is the first day for signing up peeps who pre-registered as official Press for Cornerstone. Ummm..that’s all I’m saying…just…ummm…

Shari and Linda are scheduled to go into town to collect things for tomorrow’s “Not-So-New-BBQ” event. That should be fun.

This evening, I attended events at the Grrr Records stage. I got to the tent to see Jack London, a band of very tall gentlemen from Iceland kick my fest off right. Simon, the drummer, clocks in at 6’9. He is the tallest and the only band member name I can even begin to pronounce…Hey, I’m from the South, there are certain tones, words, and sounds I am restricted from making!

Tonight’s events were shared with Camp 77s boarders, John U and Elwoooooooodddddd! No better concert company can be had anywhere. I love sneaking peeks at Elwood enjoying music. He has such a sweetness that is always with him, but add music to the pot and ya got something special. I luvs me some Elwood.

Brother Red Squirrel was next up. Fun, fun, fun! Pure joy was pouring from the stage as Brother Red danced around and played his guitar with Maron and friends.

Closing out the night was the Glen Kaiser Band. Blues under the evening sky. During the set, Kaiser threw his harmonica (harp) into the audience right to sweet Elwood. Yep, he screamed like a girl but he’s forgiven. John decided I was good luck to sit by during shows as he reminded us that he was also sitting next to me at a concert last year or the year before when he caught a drum stick Steve Hindalong threw into the audience. Hummmm, maybe I should start charging people for the opportunity to sit next to me.

BTW, did I mention that the Reaper is squatting at Camp 77s???

Fully In – Cornerstone Festival 2008 – Day 4
Wednesday – And So It Begins – July 2, 2008

The BBQ was fun and well attended. Linda (QoW) and Randy L made it onto the dusty grounds and joined us for a little convo and joy.

Press Tent happenings got underway today at 1 with our fave Cstone Icelandic band, Jack London, in all of their long leggedness. John C, of Skillet, handled the craziness of fest sound checks and Press conferences well. Wendi K spoke for the Rez Band, and Family Force Five seemed a little tired…but eh, it happens.

Fave show of the day was seeing Sixpence back at the ‘Stone playing the Gallery at night. Leigh looked sweet, ready, and happy in her gaudy thrift store dress. They brought old favorites along with new material.

Personal observation, Leigh seems to have a better handle on the songs than I remember her having in the past. There seems to be an urgency in her delivery…a realness that I did not easily detect in the prior incarnation of this band.

The evening was spent in one of the Encore Tents listening to The Myriad. I really like them better in the Gallery. Really hope they are scheduled there again next year.

I actually made it to bed before 4am. WOW, CSTONE???!

Generate Me – Cornerstone Festival 2008 – Day 5
Thursday – Stages Galore – July 3, 2008

Oh, I forgot the mention all…of…the...generator…stages…on…the…grounds…this…year. Kind of a good idea – but maybe this should be parred down a little next time. There is a stage every few feet. How many stages of white boys playing one chord behind another screaming into a microphone does one need? Just asking.

The best of the Generator Stages was the Indie Community Stage. They actually had it set up like a legitimate stage and invited some interesting players to decorate it.

This stage was set up, not too far from the walk path to Camp 77s so there was no excuse available for not stopping in.

Wednesday, I went intentionally with David C & Trish L to check out Homer Hiccolm and came away with a CD I still have not had a chance to listen to. We ran into the Knox clan there (David has a skirt and purse pic somewhere). I really dig those Knoxblox peeps.

Thursday’s events were pretty full starting with Jack London early in the afternoon. They performed a good set under the tackily patched Gallery Stage big tent. The band is very talented and fun to watch. IIRC, they are supposed to have a disc out in September. I am very interested to see how their live show transfers to the studio. Think The Choir Boyz could capture that energy but don’t think they were asked…oh well.

Jan Krist took the stage around 3pm. Jan spoke of and quoted Anne Lamott during her set – ummm, I love her even more as Anne Lamott is my girl crushes! We had a chance to share A.L. stories after her set. I went away glowing a little.

Jeff and Ping put on a pretty awesome show. The band seemed to be more in sync than in the past…maybe it had something to do with Jeff’s wife and daughter being in the audience. Whatever the motivator, I really enjoyed them.

Had a chance to duck into the Rue Royal set for a few minute on the way to pick up some forgotten items at camp. They still have a good sound but nothing detectably different from last year.

Yummy Goodness BATMAN!!!!

The evening was adorned with the 77s and Over the Rhine…well, Degarmo and Key sandwiched in-between. Nice night for a concert.

The 7s brought the ROCK! The four did their thing and put smiles on attendee’s faces. It was so good to see David L on guitar again. His presence seems to bring a special energy to the other 3 members. Thanks for coming to Cstone, David!

I attended the Degarmo and Key show as proxy for friends who could not be there. OK, yeah, I must be one of the only people alive in the 80’s who had never heard their music– oh, and how the gods had been nice to me. I took one for the team.

Seriously, for ‘80s music, I guess they were good for their time, but dang, can we get any cheesier? I think I saw God leave to get an elephant ear and coffee after the first love-dove-above rhyme-like sequence.

Over the Rhine took their usual Midnight spot on the Gallery Stage. Kenny Hutson joined the band and yea, new musical colors and beauty. I applaud Karin for doing the REAL version of Changes Come. That song needs to not be watered down for certain audiences. Strong emotions call for strong words…thanks for keeping it real…

Back at Camp 77s, we had one of those 4am bed-timelaughingwellpaststupidandenjoyingoneanother’scompanynights. Yea for friends with fun minds.

Worship Whoop-DE-DOO – Cornerstone Festival 2008 – Day 6
Friday – Happy 25th – July 4, 2008


Today promised to be another very busy day and did not break its word.

Press conferences, concerts, and celebrations, OH MY!

The early Press Tent events went off without a hitch. Elwood was able to ask Impending Doom a question which brought a smile to all of our hearts (yeah, there’s more to this story). After the initial interviews – train wrecks and…..stuff.

Tonight was the 25th Anniversary celebration of Cornerstone Festival. Main Stage sound checks and…well, stuff.

For the most part, the artist handled the Press Tent schedule crashes pretty well. Mike Farris, who was new to the whole Cstone experience, the 77s and Lost Dogs had their Press Conferences scaled down to 15 minute each. I applaud the moderators for keeping it going and the artist for rolling with the punches.

Brian “Head” Welch, formally of the rock group KORN, graced our little sweaty stage. He has a very stern look about him, but man, what a nice guy. His security peeps were cool too. I really enjoyed them.

In between the groovy Press events, there was Music!

A great afternoon at the Gallery Stage had Mike Roe solo and The Psalters. Weird moment with Roe as he played about 15-20 minutes then left the stage – seems he felt the pressure of the Worship “Whoop-De-Doo”** that was going on this evening at the Main Stage. He came back to finish the set bringing Jimmy A with him.

The Psalters took the stage after the Roe set. MAN – Sweaty hippies, dancing people, and festive Native Americans. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I love the Psalters. I love that they put the emphases on the music and message rather than getting every note right. Sometimes, you gotta just f’ing yell darn-it! Sometimes you gotta put on scary make-up and yell to the beat of a drum! I’m not gonna judge!

After the Psalter’s set, Trish and I went to the Wycliffe Tent and checked out the Native American Dancers. Sweetness!

After talking with people, finding something to eat, and passing through Camp 77s, Trish and I finally made our way to the Main Stage in time for the middle of the Lee Boys set.

Main Stage was full: Lee Boys, Mike Farris, 77’s, Lost Dogs, Over the Rhine, Charlie Peacock, and David Crowder Band among others. Fun night. Charlie Peacock and candles lit up the Whoop-De-Doo.

Elwood, Trish and I left during David Crowder’s set. Time was spent unloading chairs and blanket at Camp 77s before heading to the mid-way to watch the fireworks.

OH MY!!! The fireworks paled in comparison to the fire on the Gallery Stage a little after Midnight. A sleeper concert and, in my opinion, BEST OF FEST! Mike Farris grabbed us by the grabbers and did not let go until well after the last chord rang through.

Did I mention Best of Fest? Thanks Mike for bringing it!

Last Days – Cornerstone Festival 2008 – Day 7
Saturday – Rounding the Corner – July 5, 2008

This is the hardest day of the fest. Time when friends, new and older, start packing up and seriously talking about their exit plans. Rocco and his crew are planning to leave this evening after the late sets. It comes too quickly…just so darn quick.

I worked the Press Tent for the day. We heard from Josh Garrells, Dan Spitz, who was formally with Anthrax, Chris of Aradhna, and Charlie Peacock . Fun Press events.

I didn’t spend much time today in music tents. Being the final fest day, my time after working the Press Schedule was spent seeking out friends for that last face-to-face conversation before we all said good-bye. Sadly, I never got an opportunity to say hi to Donna at the Asylum this year. I love her and Michael and what they bring to the fest.

Tonight, the Gallery Tent was a bit weird for me. My former studies teacher was performing! Yes, I knew Charlie was a performer/producer but I don’t know him that way. AND yes, I know other artist/performers/etc but I knew them as such before sharing a cider with them. Thought was given to not attending tonight’s 7:20 show until Andi said, “come, I think you might like it…” So, I went…and it was strange at first…but I liked it…well, I liked it after the whole screaming for my teacher, hearing his name being yelled out like a rock star, seeing him on stage as a performer, and listening to people sing along with him – and audience members yelling out songs that they wanted to kind of sunk in!! What’s up wid dat??!

There was a weird kind of ownership and pride I felt for him tonight. He was awesome as a performer! He sang a song rhyming Funky and Monkey – and I dug it. But he’s him… even in the grocery store…he’s awesome, mostly forgiving, and brought me a Lemon Shake-up…now, that’s priceless.

This year, I actually stayed for the Lost Dogs set because one of my fave peeps had a special gift to give to the guys…a Mama Dog with the 3 sucklings…another priceless moment.

Tomorrow is another Travel Day. Ben and Anna are planning to hit the road by 4am. Sadness, I really like them. Ben will not be able to join us for Cstone 2009 due to entering Military Service – guess we will have to kidnap Anna and make her the family rep at Camp 77s.
Friday, July 18, 2008

Final Thoughts – Cornerstone Festival 2008 – Day 8
Sunday – Coming Home – July 6, 2008

Cornerstone Festival Week always seems to be the fastest moving week of the year. I tell people that what has kept me coming back 14 of the past 15 years are the people I have met, the stories held in my heart, and all those other things – a (mostly) good kind of family reunion.

The first people I remember meeting when I started going to the fest are Brad and Mary from Canada. Cstone is never complete until I see them, share a hug, and quickly go over the past year’s events. It’s supposed to be done and it’s beautiful.

People I missed this year…The Violet Burning. It feels like they are there every year. To be missing for this Anniversary was a little conspicuous. Hopefully, they will be back on schedule for 2009 (and not in competition with OTR, 77s, or the Myriad).

Yep, I wonder annually why I put myself through the daily sweat, unknown weather conditions, long drives there and back, relational dramas, and all the rest…but like an addict to crack, I keep going back and try to convince my friends – people I actually like, to come along.

This is the best time of the year…and I AM already looking forward to 2009.

Peace and goodness,



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