Cornerstone Folds, Wild Goose Soars

An afternoon of Beer 'N' Hymns rocks the Beer Tent at the Wild Goose Festival at Shakori Hills in North Carolina June 24, 2011. Credit: RNS photo by Courtney Perry

Greg Horton of the Religion News Service looks for a shift in the wind with the demise of Cornerstone, the venerable music festival put on the by Jesus People (USA) and the birth of Wild Goose, where many of my friends are gathered this weekend:

(RNS) Demon Hunter. Vengeance Rising. Payable on Death.

Since 1984, these and other Christian heavy metal bands have been congregating every summer in a field near Chicago for the Cornerstone Festival. And for much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was the place for Christian thrash metal, death metal, or any other metal bands to generate a following.

Cornerstone provided the venue — and for several years, as many as 20,000 fans — to help these bands gain traction in a faith community more often associated with pop praise music.

Financial troubles will make this summer’s July 2-7 gathering the last for the venerable festival, the oldest Christian music and arts festival in the U.S. Only Greenbelt, the British festival from which Cornerstone emerged, has been around longer.

Yet as Cornerstone says goodbye, a young upstart festival is doubling its size in only its second year.

The Wild Goose Festival also owes its origins to Greenbelt, but the ethos and theology are radically different than Cornerstone’s. The first Wild Goose met at Shakori Hills, N.C., a 72-acre wilderness and campground 20 minutes from Chapel Hill.

read the rest: Religion News Service | Culture | Entertainment & Pop Culture | As Cornerstone wraps up, Wild Goose Festival takes off.

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  • Gary Bryson

    A bunch of infidels pretending to be Christians.

  • Pingback: Wild Goose Festival West: Why You Should Be There – Pomomusings()

  • Kenton

    Just got back from Wild Goose. Had a great time (pretending to be Christian with my fellow infidels 8-| ) , BUT… they’re apparently having a hard time with the finances too. They mentioned that they might finish the festival in the red, and pleaded for extra donations.

    • I’d be fascinated to hear your thoughts on WGF, Kenton!

      And, any of the rest of you go to the Goose? I’d love your reflections…

      • Kenton

        I enjoyed it! I went alone, and while I would go again with (a) friend(s) (and, Buddy D., if you’re reading this, that means you in particular), I probably wouldn’t go again alone. I combined it with visits to boyhood pastor, and best friend since kindergarten which made the trip worth the cost of time and money. (The camp gear was borrowed from said best friend.) I left Sunday around noon, so I didn’t make it to the very end.

        Highlights: They did a “surprise” premier of “Hellbound” on the first night. EXCELLENT. So good that I’m willing to buy tickets for anyone who would want to go when it comes out.

        Phyllis Tickle’s talk “Constantine to Birth Control” was greatness.

        Lisa Sharon-Harper did a talk on “Engaging your Political Other.” It was probably my favorite talk. She’s very much *my* political other, but I loved everything she had to say.

        I heard great talks from Alexia Salvatierra, Joy Carroll Wallis, Cathleen Falsani, Karla Yaconelli, Randy Woodley, Leroy Barber, and Shane Claiborne. Ian Cron’s talk on post-cynical Christianity was tops, and prompted some great conversation afterwards with some folks I met camping nearby. I liked the panel on Walter Wink (I found myself next to Steve Berry at one of the morning sessions), and as always, loved Brian’s morning opening sessions, and his talks.

        Peter Rollins did a talk and premiered his play. Whenever I listen to or read Peter Rollins, I either get something just over my head that I can’t seem to figure out, or else it’s something on level that I love. I think if he hadn’t presented so late at night, I could have kept up, but by about 11 pm, my eyelids were heavy, and I was struggling to stay on his level. (And once you fall a sentence or two behind, it’s too late.) I think his play will be great. (As long as they can get the curtain to go up at 8pm.)

        Musically, the highlight was easily Phil Madeira. He opened the show with Blind Willie Johnson’s “What is the Soul of a Man.” Speaking as an amateur theologian/amateur blues guitarist/professional Texan, if you can open a show with a Blind Willie song done right, you have won me over. He did.

        Only real low point for me was that I pitched my tent too close to the “Performance Cafe”. They didn’t shut down until about 1am each night. In the words of Rick Perry, “…oops.”

        • Daniel King

          Pete’s play did start way too late! I’m friends with the guy yet I fell so cold-stone asleep that my neighbor woke me up and said that I was snoring. ha

      • Daniel King

        I was trying to articulate to Mark Sandlin why dancing until I was drenched from head to toe in the Hymns N Beer tent was one of the most spiritual moments of my life and I think, for me, it had something to do with the loss of that part of my brain that judges everything I say & do. Somehow my acutely critical self-conscious mode of narrating the world shut off. My brain took a big breath and enjoyed the moment. It was one of the most earnest, non-cynical moments to date. I would travel across the country again just to attend Hymns N Beers. 🙂