Audiofeed Music Festival

Six years ago, the last ever Cornerstone festival took place. This underground faith festival was a big family reunion for many of us wayfaring travelers. A place where we were able to come together, create and commune, even if just for a moment.

In 2012, when it was announced that the 29-year-old festival was going to come to an end, many of us mourned. Some responded with anger, some sadness but there was a remnant of kinfolk who got together, plotted and prayed and the next year gathered together for what has come to be known as Audiofeed Music Festival. Now, this little festival does not claim to have replaced Cornerstone but it does claim to have carried on the communal spirit, with bands and fans all mingling, camping, creating and fellowshipping with one another.

It was raining when we arrived at our first ever Audiofeed in Urbana Illinois, on Thursday evening. Even so, there was excitement in the air as we anticipated seeing so many kinfolk. We had already picked up our friends, Renee and Di, who had flown from Australia into O’hare that day. We knew a handful of members and former alumni from JPUSA were going to be there as well as a contingency of kinfolk from our Louisiana community. Then there were all of the bands we’d played with out on the road. And finally, we were excited to see some of our bus rider alumni, including Chaz, Lindy, and Colleen. We were excited for all of them to join us for our performance slot Sunday morning as our “OnCall Orchestra.” (that’s the name we’ve given to all of our kinfolk around the globe who have played music with us).

We had put the word out that we were going to be hosting morning Chai tea at our bus all weekend long and were delighted to find many friends new and old stop by for tea and conversations.

On Friday afternoon, a handful of us led a time of sacred space, which offered us a much-needed upward soaking after months of hard travel.

We spent quite a bit of time in the complementary kitchen set up and run by the infamous “Mama Linda.” We learned about her history, inviting bands to come to her property for a hearty meal as they toured through her little town in Illinois and how she set up this hospitality space at the festival to continue to offer that blessing to all of us road warriors. It was a comfortable and open space, holding none of the insecure or prideful vibes that are often times found in a “green room” experience. There was a place for folks to unwind and play games and even a little area set up with toys for all of the children.

During a meal, we sat down with one of the core organizer, Jim Eisenmenger and had a conversation about the story of Audiofeed and the place he hopes it holds in the greater story. There was a humility and gentleness when he spoke and let us know a bit of history about this little “all volunteer” run, art and music festival. He made it clear that Audiofeed is not trying to become the next big thing but rather hopes to keep its communal focus offering a safe space for exploration, questioning, doubts, fears, hopes, joys. He expressed that ultimately, “we are people who want to support each other and experience great music and art with others who feel the same way.” And, that is exactly what we sensed as our weekend unfolded.

We spent the rest of Saturday catching up with many dear friends. We especially loved discovering one of Craig’s old Ballydowse band mates, Darren Davick’s band, The October Bird of Death. The band, Comrades, was another fun discovery! Of course, we loved hearing our mates, Nate Allen and Insomniac Folklore, who both came out with new albums. We were blessed to give our friend T and Veronica a big squeeze after their White Collar Sideshow. And besides sitting in with us, Brother ReD Squirrel offered us an opportunity to hear some of our old favorite “Seeds” songs and John Ruben took us back to our Cornerstone days and then launched us forward by sharing how life has unfolded for him over the past five-year through some of his new songs.

 

On Sunday afternoon, on the Arkansas stage, we found our way, with our On-call Orchestra, all nine of them, and played a rollicking thirty minute set of music. It was so special to hear our songs played with such gusto and to hear each member listening and working together best they could to create a unified sound.  It was one of the most refreshing and joyful performances we’ve had in a long time and gave us a thirst for more opportunities to include and join together with large ensembles.

After our afternoon performance we noticed that people were buzzing about and preparing video gamed themed costumes for the evening festivities. Banjo and his crew ended up making a combined costume, each playing a part in the game “Pong.”

That evening we connected with our mate, Tobin and found that his band, Flatfoot 56 held a sort of “cool” fatherly presence at the festival as they brought everyone into the fold during their Sunday night performance. As the crowd gathered in anticipation, classic video game music was playing over the PA. The show started with a fun little Mario skit featuring Tessa and Nate Allen. The crowd began to close in towards the front of the room and when the first guitar chords were strummed the crowd erupted in exuberance movement that continued throughout the night. As the band played, there were dance lines, circle pits, crowd surfing, and stage diving.

Now, I’m more of a granola girl but I married a punk rocker and I’ve always wanted to stage dive. I had been contemplating it all night but felt like I was too old. But, then I saw my friend Tessa do it and I thought, that’s it, I’m doing it! Tobin was singing a punk version of “I’ll Fly Away” and as I approached the edge of the stage, I looked out over the crowd I bowed and offered a sort of prayer sign with my hands begging them to not drop me. Those looking at me, held their arms out strong and wide and yelled JUMP! And, I did! It was so freaking fun! Really it was the highlight of the festival for me; to be in a place of total trust, surrender and to just jump, to be caught and held high, then lowered ever so gently. For me, it was a beautiful picture of community and I will never forget it!

Look, if you ever find yourself longing for a little family reunion, keep Audiofeed on your radar. It is not just a music and arts festival. It’s exactly what Jim said, “it’s community.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Portland, Maine So Far, Yet So Close.

We met singer/songwriter Connor Garvey, one cloudy morning in Austin Texas. He came to our bus with our folkie kinfolk, The Lovebirds and Matt Nakoa to have breakfast. His bright smile and zest for life caught our attention as he shared his story of growing up an Irish kid near Portland Maine. We found out that we shared a few mutual friends and fellow muso’s, Putnam Smith and Heather Styka. So, between the rest of the breakfast crew there was much laughing and joking with reference to what we all decided to call the Maine Mofia. After breakfast we exchanged information and hoped to visit Connor when we passed through his state.

IMG_3773The weather was unusually hot when we arrived but Connor welcomed us with a cold fruit smoothy and that same bright smile. After we settled the bus, we all put on our bathing suits, hopped on our bikes and rode to the little town beach near his house.

I almost don’t want to tell people about this beach because I don’t want to spoil it for the locals but Willard Beach is a soft white sandy beach and has great views of the Casco Bay Islands, plus you get to watch the ships and boats come in and out of the harbor. The only down side was that the water was about 55f, the coldest we’ve ever felt, maybe even colder than Barton Springs in Austin, TX. None the less, it was refreshing. And, Connor, an avid surfer, jumped in no holds bar, as did our son, Banjo and swam their little hearts out.

IMG_3705Later that evening we drove an hour northeast to Durham, ME to visit our mutual friend, Putnam Smith at his log cabin in the woods. The last time we saw Putnam was five years prior in Green Bay, WI. So, we were excited to see and hear about all that had transpired in life, love, and music since our last visit.

He took us on a tour around his garden and showed us his 100-year-old antique letterpress, explaining the intricacies and process of creating his CD artwork with the press. Then he made us a lovely dinner and we shared songs late into the evening. Putnam is an accomplished banjo playing, songwriting, old-world troubadour fresh from the 19th Century and it was a delight to swap songs and be invited into his experience.

IMG_3772The next day we met up with Craig’s old band mate, Andrew and his family for dinner. These fella’s lived and played music together back in the late 90’s, in a world punk band called Ballydowse. Those were significant years in Craig’s journey and during that time his friendship with Andrew was meaningful and important. As life moved on, throughout the years, Craig would remember his friend fondly, but at times, the distance between them seemed so far away. And yet, here they were, just like yesterday, stories intertwining finding that close bond once again renewed.

The neat thing about seeing an old friend, who we haven’t seen in years and years was finding that although life looked completely different from before there was still that sweet common thread that once wove us together and that was a beautiful thing.

We spent the next few days hiking Fort Williams, sharing delicious meals, and catching up on story, enjoying the goodness of friendship and as we pulled away a little piece of our heart stayed behind.

Portland is a pretty cool city, that’s for sure, but Portland with all of these kinfolk as inhabitants is even cooler. It’s a place that feels like home and we are so grateful for our time and friendships there.

Hope in Transit

20130222-111103.jpgWe met David and Lisa Sprinkle at the last ever Cornerstone Festival this past summer. Lisa introduced herself to us after our performance, sharing her journey and deep felt connection to Craig’s previous band, Ballydowse. She was inspired by their radical message to really care for the widow, orphan and poor. Just prior, her husband Dave was inspired by an idea that Rich Mullins presented to start a traveling music school. And so, the couple began to explore that idea and eventually founded Hope in Transit. Hope In Transit’s primary program is a traveling music school that travels in a weekly cycle to work with Navajo and White Mountain Apache students. They teach bass, drums, keyboard, and guitar at each location, in both individual and group lessons. The Traveling Music School seeks to provide a healthy pastime to young people who are often in a position to choose between dangerous and self-destructive or healthy and productive behavioral patterns.

The Sprinkles invited us to come visit them in the White Mountains of Arizona and we accepted their invitation. Our time together was so inspiring and educational. They shared their story and many cultural insights about the population that they participate in community with. Our first experience was with the Apache children and we learned how to make Cigar Box Guitars. Craig assisted with the power tools, I helped with the art and design and our children were invited to make their own instruments. Below are photos from the Cigar Box Guitar Workshop.

Later that week we visted at the Red Sands Navajo School. We were invited to share our Australian Folklore Workshop as well as teach some of the individual lessons through out the day. The coolest moment was watching Graciana teach a young student Uke/Bass and Banjo share his knowledge of Cajun with fellow percussionist. As much as we are happy to serve and share our gifts and talents, it’s these moments that we are truly blessed by the opportunities to learn from others.

How to Donate

If you are looking for a way to lend a helping hand, we highly recommend donating to Hope in Transit. They are a federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit.

You can donate through PAYPAL, or by sending a check to:
Hope in Transit
PO Box 2096
Lakeside, AZ 85929

The Last Ever Cornerstone Festival

“Burn down the building and let free the body.” Lyrics by Tyler Hentschel.

Our hearts mourn as we say good-bye to Cornerstone Music Festival one last time.

I am at a loss for words and struggle to convey the intense feelings of love that we hold towards this community of creative and precious Saints, sinners and all of those in between. Cornerstone festival is unlike any festival we’ve ever attended. It is liberating and life-giving. It really is otherworldly, as John Joseph Thompson quotes in his article, “Goodnight, Cornerstone.”

We are thankful for all those who have worked so hard these past 29 years to provide a beautiful and relevant place to share sacred space, to struggle, to commune and to create.

This was our week in review:

Day one: We pulled into the Cornerstone Farm and set up shop on a central corner. Windows open and sweat on our brow, we found ourselves barring down mentally for a long, humid, dusty, hot week without the refuge of air conditioning. Very quickly our attention shifted as we began to see familiar and kind faces. We were excited to see friends, Connie and Dereck arrive in their custom made gypsy wagon, Philip and Sari with their suitcase sideshow, the Baumgartners, Helle’s and all of the rest of our kinfolk. All of our darling muso friends from all across the country and more!  Home, we’re home!

Day two: Our children really enjoyed the freedom of connecting with friends and running around the grounds like they owned the place. Swimming, staying up late, skatepark, seeing new bands but most of all, the loosening of our parental strings.

Craig and Seth Martin hatched a plan to set up a generator stage outside of our bus, Celu’haven, on Thurs. (A generator stage is one that is unofficial, meaning permission from the fest isn’t necessarily granted, although, security at C-stone has always been very gracious. It’s impromptu, and underground)

That night we settled into the Chelsea House/Gallery Stage and watched our favorite musical kinfolk including an early evening performance by Lauren Peacock. Her gentle spirit and melodic sound was the perfect start to our evening. Later, we enjoyed The Illalogical Spoon. The beauty of the “Spoon” is their unassuming innocence and sheer delight in sharing their music, which is extremely well made.

We ended the night with Soil and the Sun. These darlings are genuinely creative. They produce the most deliciously, organic, soulful sound I’ve ever heard.

Day Three: Tonight is our performance at the Chelsea House/Gallery stage. In the morning we held rehearsal in the Village. Joy began to brew as Scott Knies, Joby Morey, Colleen Davick, Darren Davick, David Baumgartner and Pilgrim Metts joined in to create a sound the angels could dance to.

Knowing this was the last Cornerstone, we decided to add in a little treat for our finally, a Ballydowse cover, “The Yiddish Song,” a traditional Jewish instrumental. There is a gleam in everyone’s eyes as the song comes together, specially Craig’s. There is a strong sense of camaraderie and knowing that this might be the last time Craig and his former band mates might play this song.  Although the heat is beating down on us, there is an excitement brewing and we’re ready to celebrate!

We all took refuge from the heat and met up at the stage at 5:15. Show starts at 6pm. We played a 50 min set. I’m not even sure how to sum it up except for joy joy and more joy. I couldn’t stop smiling. Craig broke two strings, I tossed instruments to the crowd and beamed a lady on the head with one of the little purple shakers, Grace and I jumped off stage and danced in the pit, ha! The sound was amazing as the 700 or so folks in the crowd sang along to “Old Man’s Town” and we became one big band!

Arriving the grounds with our last $50 in our pockets we had anticipated there would need to be some financial miracle for us to leave. The generosity of the crowd totally took us by surprise as they blessed us with enough to fill our bus and fridge and keep us on our way! If you know how much it costs to fill our bus, you know this is huge! Plus, they offered encouragement and affirmation by taking us home via CD. That is priceless.

When we laid our head at the end of the night it was 98 degree’s in our bus but we slept well.

Day four;  This morning we hosted a generator stage, showcasing our friends Insomniac Folklore, Jonni Greth, Ellen Morey, Lauren Peacock, Erin Eichenberger, The Illalogical Spoon, Seth Martin and The Suitcase Sideshow.

A handful of kinfolk came through out the morning to have a listen and a sing. We served fruit and veggies with hummas, H2O and shade from the hot sun. It was a magical morning with Celu’haven as our backdrop.

Later that afternoon, my cousins arrived and we enjoyed a night of reminiscing with  a performance by our favorite from 1998, Squad Five-0. The fella’s pulled out all the stops! Although, they still had their quick sense of humor and cheeky grins there was a maturity about them that was encouraging and hopeful. Jeff offered words of wisdom and humility as we all cried out, “We are the Youth.” Once again, although the heat was an intense 94 at 2am, the relief in the spirit was penetrating and we slept well.

Day five: We moved slowly as the heat, humidity and dust started to take its toll. Most of our day was spent in the lake or 20 min away in the town of Macomb, cooling off at the local Walmart. We played a short but fun set for the kids at Creation Station and later enjoyed the bright and invigorating music of our friends Destroy Nate Allen. Once the sun went down the air thickened and we started to feel a little delirious. Flatfoot 56‘s Pool Party concert was the perfect solution and a great way to end our day. Those fella’s are so creative and high energy. They had sprinklers going, a pool slide on stage with a line of kids waiting to go down and landing in the mosh pit; don’t worry there was a life guard on duty. At one point, they sent buoy’s out and made pool lanes. Then they hosted a little crowd surfing relay. They ended the set with rollicking version of Amazing Grace and some words of wisdom. We left blessed and encouraged!

Day six: Only 1 1/2 days left. There is a tenderness in the air. We all know it’s about to end. Exhausted and dirty, we want relief but we don’t want it to end. The kids are becoming more and more emotional as they realize the end is almost here. In the past, these emotions would rise up but we could just say, “it’s ok, because we always have next year.” But this is it. The last time all of us riff raff will be able to gather under these circumstances. Starting that morning we set out to find kinfolk and say goodbye, not until next time but until we meet again, “here, there or in the air.” I had tears in my eyes as I sang, Insomniac Folklores, “Burn down the building…” and, “Farther Along” with Josh Garrels.

As the sun set, a parade of bikes, golf carts and the masses marched the viking ship filled with Cornerstone memories down to the lake. The procession was dramatic and tearful as the crowd passed the Gallery stage, then the Underground, skate park, generator stages and camp sites. All the while, folks bellowed out “I’ll fly away.” Once we reached the lake, the boat was set sail and we watched silently as arrows of fire were launched into the floating vessel. Finally, the boat was set on fire and we said waved goodbye.

The last band we heard at Cornerstone 2012 was epic hardcore band, Norma Jean, one of Craig’s favorites. Moments after they finished the crowd rush out of the tent to the skate park where a rumor had been brewing about the Chariot showing up to do an impromptu generator show. It was a con and the crowd was left in a quandary, a bon fire was set in the middle of the skatepark and a controlled chaos ensued.

The irony of that moment was intense. Last show of the night and instead of soaking it in, there was a mad rush to the next thing. I guess folks just wanted to keep that Cornerstone high going as long as they could.

Day Seven: A sad departure and end of an era.

“Heaven come to earth and there won’t be no church, we’ll meet down by the riverside. There we’ll swim with all creation, never get tired, never bored. Don’t worry one day there will be no dam between us and our Lord.” ~the Illalogical Spoon

There are 6000 weary travelers out there, somewhere. And, we look forward to the day we can all meet again… down by the riverside.

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Clay Street Studios

We recorded our new album over the course of two weekends. The first weekend, Ed Bialach, a friend and fantastic engineer (and drummer) came up from Chicago, IL to our home in Green Bay, WI. He brought his top of the line equipment and we knocked out all of the base line. The second weekend, we traveled down to Chicago to finish the melody and a few extra’s.

We had the privilege of including a number of superb musicians on this album. Jahmes Finlayson, from Milwaukee, WI. stayed with us for the first weekend and poured his heart into the drum line. What a passionate man and pro! That same weekend, the infamous, Eric Blumreich punched out a few fancy base licks and Ms. Kimberly Souther graced us with her beautiful cello parts.

The second weekend, one of Craig’s old Ballydowse band mates, David Baumgartner shared his mad violin skills with us. Colleen Davick chimed in with some flute and tin whistle. Our dear Joby Morey, jack of all instruments, played some haunting accordion on a few tracks. And, last but not least, Debbie Baumgartner whipped up a choir for us. That’s right. We were sitting there finishing up Fair Land and I said, “boy, I can really choir on this part.” Ed said, “do you want a choir?” “Well, yes, but how do find a choir?” He proceed to call Debbie and the next day at 1pm The Alana Spring Hall Choir showed up!

What a blast and honor to be able to do this project with so many creative and kind souls. You can view all of the clips from the recording process by visiting www.thehollands.org/snapshots

PS. To top it all off, Josh Kufal shot video/photos of our process and is putting together a fantastic video for our CD launch. Now to find a venue to host our CD release. Any suggestions?