SxSW Music Festival

20130319-123548.jpgWe usually take a pretty distant stance in the music business, hanging on the fringes, drifting in and out but really doing our own thing. Mostly because we have come to realize that our families motivations for how we live and what we create together is probably countercultural to all of the pandering that has to happen in that world. However, over the course of the last month we began to see that our routing was going to take us right into the heart of the big beast of an industry to SxSW.

If we could describe SxSW (means South by Southwest) in one word it would be “toiling.” There was a happy slappy, almost devilish type energy through out the air as the streets and local venues were filled with muso’s, business executives, college students on spring break and locals. It was a distorted joy and we sensed a deep undertone of awkwardness, disconnect, and angst. And so, we began to petition for understanding as to our purpose at this festival. We knew two things, we were going to seek opportunities to serve and to encourage. If we were presented with opportunities to share musically great, but not the point. We found an opportunity to volunteer at the Folk Alliance stage on Saturday. Offering a smile as a greeter and selling merch for the bands that showcased on that stage. We also connected with a few friends who were showcasing their talents and sought them out for a chat, to offer encouragement and a moment to just be. These are dear friends who are road weary and have tasted the rotten fruit of the industry. And yet, they continue on, sharing their beautiful gifts and talents, inspiring others through song as they work through their upbringings, beliefs and ideals.

It was a great test of our character to be able to function well in this environment and to see our purpose clearly. Both of our children were able to discern and share some key observations that we believe will take them into adulthood with much wisdom. We felt energized as a family being able to share such depth in such shallow waters. We find serendipity as we travel and are thankful that nothing that we do is meaningless.  We are thankful for the opportunity to see the big picture and to be able to function in that faithfulness, knowing that at the end of the day, when all is stripped away, we are all made of the same mud. We are all one. We continue to move in that reality.

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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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Global/Local Holiday Gifts

There is much rhetoric about buying “local.”  The idea is to support our neighbors in order to keep our corner of the world thriving. I agree with this to the extent that it is important to support our neighbors, I just think our neighbors can be farther away than our postal code. We have connected with wonderful folks all over the country who are sharing their creative talents and striving to support their families in small business. So, this holiday season if you are looking to support the local market I have a few ideas to send your way.

I spent about three hours gathering all of their links. So, CLICK AWAY! 🙂

Art, Craft & Photography: There is nothing quite like an original piece of artwork. Commissioning an artist to take the sketch of your mind and make it 3D is a beautiful process. These folks all have fantastic skills, creative minds and most of all they are good listeners.  Bloom Photography, Out/Back Design,  Heidi Keys, Jason Seiler Illustration, Josh Kufahl,  Little Lace Lady, Off the Wheel Pottery, Photos by Beth Ann, Popelka Trenchard Glass, Richard Steinberger Photography, Nik Arnoldi Fine Art

Clothing & Accessories: These friends don’t shy away from a market driven by the mass desire for generic design. They are gifted and talented seamstress, treasure hunters and fine crafted jewelers, you want unique and beautiful check out these sites…  VillageBaby, The Brass Owl, ShoveIt Design, Refab, Larky Park, Gracie Designs, CityMade, Billy & Co., Wild Prairie Silver, If you are looking for name brand, check our our friends at Altrec

Food & Drink: Yum!  Authentic Feather FarmKabumParallel 44 WineryLa JavaDos ChilesGreen Plow Roasters, Kavarna

Body & Healing Arts: Great resources for body, mind and soul. Good Earth SoapTerry Naturally,  Kristie Lee GunsMardi Halvorsen YogaPeninsula ChiropracticMore MarriedShaping HerJerry Price CounselingMazzara Midwifery

Support non-profits & servant minded folks: These projects are both spiritual and practical, they are all run by individuals who have a desire to make this world a better place. They are trustworthy and supporting them would bring great joy this Christmas season.  Cornerstone Community Outreach, Timberline Lodge, Hungry Hearts United, Of Scars, Seven Loaves Project, The Suitcase Sideshow, Operation Elf Box, Bethany Erickson, Leadership Lab, YoungLife, Foundation Skate Ministry, Vapor Sports, The Fall Out Creative Community, Tribe of Judah School

Music: If you are looking for some great tunes try ordering directly from the musician. We have lots of favorites but these are some of our dearest friends. They are professional and creative musicians and I think you’ll love them.

Folk: Sammy Horner,  John Statz,  Patchouli,  Bill and Kate Isles,  Seth MartinGalynne Goodwill,  The Brothers Burn Mountain,  Beki Hemingway

Folk/Punk: Hillfolk Noir,  Men as Trees Walking,  Insomniac Folklore,  Destroy Nate Allen                                                                                                                                          

Indie: Nick JainaSoil and the SunRick Beerhorst

Electronic: Optimus PromWreckless Music,  Cloudburst

Jazz: Jana Nyberg GroupThe Unfortunate

Metal: The EternalSouthside Stranglers

Funtimes: Magic MamaCanon Ball

If you have other ideas to add, please feel free to comment.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2012!!