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John Foxe John Foxe is a male
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Frown Cornerstone - the end is near Reply to this Post Post Reply with Quote Edit/Delete Posts Report Post to a Moderator       Go to the top of this page

2012 will sadly be the last Cornerstone in Bushnell.
It will be worthwhile going if you possibly can...

Last Cornerstone

Crying Crying Crying Crying

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Yep, ironic, I was not planning on going again. It will be interesting to see what they plan for this one. The last few years it has really gone downhill.

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This saddens me. When I read of this on the Violet Burning news release I could not believe it and had to go to the site to check this sadness out. I sadly cannot make it as I will be leaving for a mission trip at the end of the same week. I will bid farewell to this festival from a distance. I actually only made 2000, but it still has great memories!

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I was fortunate to be there seven times between 1991 and 2000 and have a lot of great memories. It is too bad. I'm curious how it had gone downhill the last number of years.
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I think the direction of the fest had changed over the years as they tried to make more money. Originally I believe the idea of the fest was to book less popular fringe bands that didn't get booked at the other fests. They pushed the fest to become bigger and bigger and bigger, trying to draw more and more people which in turn made them start booking popular bands that do play other fests already. Those bands costs much more, which leads to the need to make the fest bigger and so on. This issue also creates a situation where you have three or four high paid bands and tons of unknown and generally crappy bands to fill up the roster to keep the fest big. I would rather of had thirty or forty medium size bands that I couldn't see anywhere else than four bands that were everywhere and a hundred bands that really are not worth seeing. Thats my opinion.

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It seemed they changed their focus maybe 8 years ago.
The "Cornerstone" everyone is mourning seems to be long gone.

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Thread Starter Thread Started by John Foxe
2011/2012 Reply to this Post Post Reply with Quote Edit/Delete Posts Report Post to a Moderator       Go to the top of this page

2011 was a great year though, for the bands I love... most of the DA-related ones, plus some other awesome ones - Servant, Rez, McGuire, Keaggy, Stonehill, etc. And what a treat to also see Kerosene Halo and Jeff Eibel+Ping.

C-2011 will be a Cornerstone year to remember for the rest of my life. I just can't hope for this legendary lineup in 2012. However, I am looking forward to hopefully seeing Terry (+ maybe some DA bandmates?), Steve, Derri, Mike, and a few others. In addition there is one more artist I highly recommend that will be there: Josh Garrels.

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How depressing. I never got there, and when the time arrived where I might have had the wherewithal to attend, it wasn't the Cornerstone I wanted to go to for so long. What's worse, it feels like the death knell for the last of the longtimers. I'm sure a few of them relied on Cornerstone merch tables to justify recent recordings. Without that, it kind of marks the end of that entire scene, extending out to those bands that fueled it.

Like I said before -- depressing.
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quote:
Originally posted by dennis
It seemed they changed their focus maybe 8 years ago.
The "Cornerstone" everyone is mourning seems to be long gone.


Yep.

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Yes, 2011 was nice. Sort of a little reminder of what it used to be.

The frustrating thing was that if you watch the 20th anniversary dvd, a lot of the people on there talk about what was great about Cornerstone... the unique once in a lifetime shows (like the Swirling Eddies), the "legends" (like DA & Mark Heard) and older bands that didn't tour regularly anymore, the musical events (like At the Foot of the Cross, Canticle of the Plains, the Gene Eugene Tribute, all star jams, etc), etc, etc. It was all about the stuff we all loved about Cornerstone. So, it seems like they knew what made it great - and then changed it anyway. Frown

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quote:
Originally posted by Audiori J
I think the direction of the fest had changed over the years as they tried to make more money. Originally I believe the idea of the fest was to book less popular fringe bands that didn't get booked at the other fests. They pushed the fest to become bigger and bigger and bigger, trying to draw more and more people which in turn made them start booking popular bands that do play other fests already. Those bands costs much more, which leads to the need to make the fest bigger and so on. This issue also creates a situation where you have three or four high paid bands and tons of unknown and generally crappy bands to fill up the roster to keep the fest big. I would rather of had thirty or forty medium size bands that I couldn't see anywhere else than four bands that were everywhere and a hundred bands that really are not worth seeing. Thats my opinion.


That's exactly right. I was at C-Stone 84 and it blew us away that there was so much music that never made it on Christian radio. It was an exciting time. The fest stayed that way for a long time. It was sometime shortly after the move to Bushnell that the focus started changing.

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I bought pretty much all of those C2K discs that M8 did from Cornerstone 2000.
It's the closets I've gotten to Cornerstone and I bought I treasure those C.D.s

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Yeah, for anyone that had never been to Cornerstone, there was nothing like it. Part of it was the original direction and part of it was the atmosphere and part of it was the people that embraced those two things. It was a formula that had a very unique result. No other fest I had ever gone to was anything like Cornerstone, it was a family reunion.

And I agree that sometime after the fest moved to Bushnell it lost its focus and direction. Which like my brother said, it was weird because on their DVD they expressed the original direction quite well... they just were no longer doing it for some reason. For several years I continued to go back, but the fest was pretty much dead to me for a while.

When people like DA or the 77s were having their T-shirt booths given away to here today gone tomorrow bands, and then being relegated to some obscure corner... you know the vision is not only fading it has cataracts.

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quote:
Originally posted by Audiori J
And I agree that sometime after the fest moved to Bushnell it lost its focus and direction. Which like my brother said, it was weird because on their DVD they expressed the original direction quite well... they just were no longer doing it for some reason. For several years I continued to go back, but the fest was pretty much dead to me for a while.

When people like DA or the 77s were having their T-shirt booths given away to here today gone tomorrow bands, and then being relegated to some obscure corner... you know the vision is not only fading it has cataracts.


I've been to every Cornerstone since 1998 (this year will be 15 in a row). I regret that I didn't get there sooner, but I think I caught a fair sense of the old days of the festival in those first few years that I went.

I think there's a contingent that wants the festival to remain focused on Daniel Amos, the Choir, the 77's, and the Lost Dogs, even after those bands had kind of packed it in (at least for a while). I like all of those bands a lot, but it's just not feasible to base an entire music festival around them in the 21st century, not least because most of their fans have long since stopped coming to the fest anyway. I think the fest has done a pretty good job of giving them all a good stage to play on during the time that I've been attending.

I still like finding new music to listen to, and this year's lineup was shaping up to be very exciting for me, with bands like House of Heroes, Icon For Hire, Mike Mains & the Branches, Eisley, Milano, Run Kid Run, Seabird, The Cascade Sun, and others. Some of my favorite bands are Anberlin, Mute Math, Deas Vail, and Paper Route, who have played the fest in the last few years. Even bands like Over the Rhine or Vigilantes of Love were still relatively new compared to the old guard when I first started going to the fest.

It's different, but it's still good music. Yeah, you did have to look for it pretty hard amongst all of the hardcore and metal bands, but it's always been there. 5 or 6 years ago, a group of friends and I started listening to every band on the schedule, picking out stuff that sounded good, and making our own schedule. It was frankly kind of surprising how much decent stuff there was that we'd never heard of and wouldn't have found if we hadn't gone looking for it.

Over the years, moments like the Mullins tribute or the Gene Eugene tribute, or reunion shows or unusual collaborations seemed to get rarer, at least among bands of our age group, although last year was kind of an exception with the oldies day on Main Stage. (But the kids seemed really excited about a surprise show from Norma Jean, or seeing that Listener guy pop up during the Deas Vail set...)

I don't think it's fair to assert that Cornerstone "sold out" or was chasing money, though - JPUSA seldom (if ever) made money on the fest, so it seems to me that any money-chasing they've done was done to try to make enough money to keep the fest alive. I know they were kind struggling in recent years with the decision on whether the gain in ticket sales from booking a TobyMac or Skillet was enough to offset the giant cost to have a stage big enough for those bands, and to pay those bands.

I think there are a lot of reasons why Cornerstone has struggled and ultimately failed, but some of the biggest reasons have more to do with the way the Christian music scene has evolved (and made inroads into the mainstream) over the years than with bad decisions made by the festival.

JRjr

This post has been edited 2 time(s), it was last edited by vapspwi: 05-23-2012 16:24.

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quote:
Originally posted by sprinklerhead
That's exactly right. I was at C-Stone 84 and it blew us away that there was so much music that never made it on Christian radio. It was an exciting time. The fest stayed that way for a long time. It was sometime shortly after the move to Bushnell that the focus started changing.


I'm curious to hear what you folks that are more old-timer than me think the change in focus was.

As I see it, Cornerstone started out focused on music on the fringes of Christian culture. As Christian rock music became more accepted in the 80s and 90s, the music that was on the fringes got to be more extreme. Where a DA or Steve Taylor was daring in 1984, it was punk or metal or hardcore stuff that occupied that "fringe" space in the 90s and 00s. A lot of folks that grew up on the "alternative" stuff of the 80s might not find the "alternative" stuff of the 90s and 00s quite to their taste.

It also seems like the turnover in bands got really high starting sometime in the 90s, and continues to this day. Even the most successful alt-Christian bands of the 90s (maybe Sixpence None the Richer) eventually waned and broke up (though now some of them are starting to reform). Most of the "middle tier" of bands burned bright for a few years and then imploded. Thinking back through my early years at the fest, some of my favorite shows were from bands like Chasing Furies or Burlap to Cashmere that blew our minds at Cornerstone for a year or two, and then flamed out after one album. So it's just a constant crapshoot, year after year, to find new bands to fill the void left by the ones that broke up after the previous year.

JRjr
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quote:
Originally posted by vapspwi
I don't think it's fair to assert that Cornerstone "sold out" or was chasing money, though - JPUSA seldom (if ever) made money on the fest, so it seems to me that any money-chasing they've done was done to try to make enough money to keep the fest alive. I know they were kind struggling in recent years with the decision on whether the gain in ticket sales from booking a TobyMac or Skillet was enough to offset the giant cost to have a stage big enough for those bands, and to pay those bands.

I think there are a lot of reasons why Cornerstone has struggled and ultimately failed, but some of the biggest reasons have more to do with the way the Christian music scene has evolved (and made inroads into the mainstream) over the years than with bad decisions made by the festival.

JRjr


You have to make more and more money to keep a fest alive that books those kinds of artists, again POD, Sixpence, Jars of Clay, and a few other bigger names could be seen elsewhere.. heck they toured regularly. Why create the need to sell thousands more tickets to pay for bands that you can see elsewhere easily? As they started booking more expensive bands the quantity of good bands went down. Which is kind of my point above, if their budget was $1000 (just to make a point), they could pay 50 moderate bands that you can't see anywhere else $20 a piece. Instead it seemed like they paid four big name popular bands that you can see everywhere $200 a piece which left them a budget of $200 to try and fill up the 100 band roster paying each of the $2 a piece. If you get my point. The end result is a much weaker festival. More is not always better.

And I disagree with you on your last point, if the festival was not making money then it most certainly was due to bad business decisions like the ones I am talking about above. I mean they got a percentage of all the food sold through all the vendors, percentages of all the CD, T-shirt and product sales, sold their own products and shirts, and charged $40 per person per day or over $100 per person for the week. And on top of that take donations. Not to mention a huge number of workers are volunteers that don't get paid.

As for the original vision, I think it is well put on the 20th anniversary DVD. I think as the original vision was lost that is when you started seeing a lot of old timers drift away and stop coming to the festival. It went from being a family reunion to the family being over run and drowned out.

quote:
Originally posted by vapspwi
I think there's a contingent that wants the festival to remain focused on Daniel Amos, the Choir, the 77's, and the Lost Dogs, even after those bands had kind of packed it in (at least for a while). I like all of those bands a lot, but it's just not feasible to base an entire music festival around them in the 21st century, not least because most of their fans have long since stopped coming to the fest anyway. I think the fest has done a pretty good job of giving them all a good stage to play on during the time that I've been attending.


There is a reason their fans stopped coming, the fest changed and lost its vision. But I think what you are insinuating is a false premise; these bands have consistantly brought in large crowds to their shows at Cornerstone. Packed shows. In fact, we were told that one of the years we ran the DA booth that DA had broken the record that year for the most money brought in at a cornerstone merch booth ever. And thats within the last ten years, not the 1980s.

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quote:
Originally posted by Audiori J
You have to make more and more money to keep a fest alive that books those kinds of artists, again POD, Sixpence, Jars of Clay, and a few other bigger names could be seen elsewhere.. heck they toured regularly. Why create the need to sell thousands more tickets to pay for bands that you can see elsewhere easily? As they started booking more expensive bands the quantity of good bands went down.


No argument that you have to make more and more money to keep booking really big artists. That's why the fest went away from that approach this year, and why they were considering it at least as early as a couple of years ago. Maybe they should have done it sooner.

Part of the problem is that, as I mentioned earlier, Christian rock got bigger over the years. In 1988, the festival had Petra, Mylon, and D&K (some of the biggest names in CCM at the time, and about as popular as it got this side of Amy and MWS) in addition to DA, the Choir, the 77's, and Adam Again. So there was a history at Cornerstone of booking the "big" names, but the "bigness" of those names got a lot bigger once the "big" bands started hitting mainstream radio and became big by normal standards and not just by CCM standards.

You also have to consider the fact that some of those bands you name (particularly POD and Sixpence) and a lot of other biggies that played Main Stage in the last decade (like Third Day, Anberlin, and Skillet) started out as small to moderate bands at the festival, playing daytime slots on smaller stages. It's hard to know where to draw the line when a mainstay of the fest grows up and gets "too popular." (The fest did pass on POD when they were at their absolute peak, catching them on the way up and then on the way down instead. I think they took a similar approach with Switchfoot.)

I'm not sure I agree that they ended up fewer good bands as a result of booking big bands, either. Lemme pick 2005 at random and see who was there:

Main Stage: David Crowder Band, Kutless, Third Day, Skillet, Anberlin, Switchfoot, Relient K, Mat Kearney, Jars of Clay, Audio Adrenaline

There are some heavy hitters in there in terms of "youth group bands" (Third Day, Crowder, Audio Adrenaline) and bands with mainstream success (Anberlin, Skillet, Switchfoot, Relient K, JoC, Kearney).

Bands On Other Stages: Hyper Static Union, The Lonely Hearts, Spoken, Joy Electric, Hawk Nelson, The Wayside, Woven Hand, House of Heroes, The Violet Burning, Lost Dogs, Copeland, The Choir, Ping, Bill Mallonee, Starflyer 59, Over the Rhine, The Myriad, Mute Math, Ashley Cleveland, Paramore, The Huntingtons, GRITS, Psalters, Flatfoot 56, Thousand Foot Crutch, The Chariot, Lovedrug, Project 86, mewithoutYou, Jan Krist, Kate Miner, Ester Drang, L.A. Symphony, Flyleaf, Jeremy Camp

Even leaving aside most of the hardcore stuff that I don't know anything about (other than a couple whose names I recognize as popular bands), there's a lot of diversity and a LOT to like in that list. It doesn't seem to me that the "good" music really took a back seat to the "big" bands that year (even if DA and the 77s weren't there). (And yeah, there was still a lot of stuff that I have absolutely no interest in listening to, too, but it seems like they did a pretty good job of getting those "middle of the pack" bands that a middle aged guy like me can appreciate.)

quote:
Originally posted by Audiori J
And I disagree with you on your last point, if the festival was not making money then it most certainly was due to bad business decisions like the ones I am talking about above. I mean they got a percentage of all the food sold through all the vendors, percentages of all the CD, T-shirt and product sales, sold their own products and shirts, and charged $40 per person per day or over $100 per person for the week. And on top of that take donations. Not to mention a huge number of workers are volunteers that don't get paid.


As far as making money goes, I have only anecdotal evidence (like most folks not working for the fest), but it's been said pretty often that the fest lost money more often than not, from the 80s to today. The only times I've heard talk of them possibly MAKING money were in those massive peak years in the late 90s/early 00s, as far as that goes.

I really can't speak to the business acumen of JPUSA; all I know is that they put on a really great festival for a lot of years, and it's pretty staggeringly expensive to pay for all the stuff that goes into it, from bands to tents to electricity to PAs and sound guys to toilets. I know they've been agonizing about how they could make changes and cut costs and still meet expectations for the last few years - that's why they were trying a "no main stage" approach this year, even before it became clear that they couldn't continue.

quote:
Originally posted by Audiori J
As for the original vision, I think it is well put on the 20th anniversary DVD. I think as the original vision was lost that is when you started seeing a lot of old timers drift away and stop coming to the festival. It went from being a family reunion to the family being over run and drowned out.


With all due respect, that sounds a lot like "the original vision was lost when the older bands weren't the most prominent bands at the fest anymore."

For what it's worth, Cornerstone is still a family reunion to me; I'm absolutely heartbroken that it's ending, and I literally don't know what I'm going to do with myself in the summer going forward. From reading stuff that folks a lot younger than me have been writing about the fest on Facebook and elsewhere, it's still a family reunion to them, too. The names and the styles have changed, but the festival still means the same thing it always meant to a wide variety of people.

quote:
Originally posted by Audiori J
There is a reason their fans stopped coming, the fest changed and lost its vision. But I think what you are insinuating is a false premise; these bands have consistantly brought in large crowds to their shows at Cornerstone. Packed shows. In fact, we were told that one of the years we ran the DA booth that DA had broken the record that year for the most money brought in at a cornerstone merch booth ever. And thats within the last ten years, not the 1980s.


What IS the vision that was lost, that caused the DA/Choir/77s fans to stop coming (if indeed they have stopped coming, if they're simultaneously packing shows and setting merch sales records)?

For what it's worth, it definitely seems like there's been a decline in attendance at Gallery-type shows in recent years (even as there's been kind of a resurgence in activity and fest presence from DA, the Choir, et al), stuff like the Lost Dogs or the Choir or Over the Rhine. Still good crowds, but not "overflowing the tent" crowds. But it's hard to tell if the decline is disproportionate for those shows versus the fest in general.

Unfortunately, I get the impression that there's a contingent of fans that are ONLY there to see the 80s bands and won't give the time of day to anything else, even if it's actually good. It's too bad, because they're missing out on a lot of good music.

JRjr
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I think we are going to have to agree to disagree. As someone who went to the fest since before it moved to Bushnell and someone who spent almost every year working for one or more bands I might have a more unique perspective. I saw a change in focus that might not be so apparent to the fest goer.

I'll just sum up my opinion with; the fact that the festival didn't make money and is ending is evidence that they didn't make the right choices over the years.

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quote:
Originally posted by Audiori J
I think we are going to have to agree to disagree. As someone who went to the fest since before it moved to Bushnell and someone who spent almost every year working for one or more bands I might have a more unique perspective. I saw a change in focus that might not be so apparent to the fest goer.

I'll just sum up my opinion with; the fact that the festival didn't make money and is ending is evidence that they didn't make the right choices over the years.


I can't compete with your "insider" status, but I have been to a lot of Cornerstones at this point, and I've spent a lot of time reading about the fest and talking to people who predate my time there. I've talked about this stuff with friends who are regular performers, friends from the "Christian media" from back in the early days, and friends who work for the fest (both volunteers and staffers).

So you'll have to excuse me if I don't just accept your "unique perspective" about this change in focus (that nobody's yet elucidated) without some discussion.

I'm not sure what it proves if Cornerstone didn't make money when, according to you, they _had_ focus and vision, and then continued to not make money when, according to you, they _lost_ that focus and vision. Maybe they were making wrong choices all along, but as somebody whose life has been enriched beyond measure by the festival over the last 14 years, I'm really grateful that they made the choices that they did.

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Your argumentative position doesn't prove my opinion wrong. In my opinion, they could have made money and kept going had they not followed the course they did, so since they made no money according to you and are shutting down.. that kind of renders their vision flawed whether they changed it as I attest or whether they didn't as you contend. So the argument is moot.

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