Musically, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
The Top 40 music charts in the 1960s were a bit of a dog’s breakfast. Folk. British Invasion. Psychedelic Rock. Novelty Songs. Motown. Country Rock. All of blended into one radio playlist. One minute the Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash, the next minute Judy Collins singing Amazing Grace or Napoleon XIV singing They’re Coming To Take Me Away. Next Glen Campbell croons about Galveston, while the DJ cues up The Who’s Magic Bus. Bubblegum groups like the 1910 Fruitgum Company and The Partridge Family sharing the hour with The Yardbirds and The Hollies. Martha Reeves, The Temptations, The Supremes pumping out the Motown sound on the same station that brought you Frank Sinatra singing, ‘I did it my way.’ Yes, really.
But then, along came the 1970s, and while Top 40 persisted on AM, the arrival of FM brought album rock, at the same time the soul stations of Atlanta and Detroit were becoming popular among non-black listeners, just as rock music was developing enough of a back-catalog for the inception of the oldies format.
Today, with music audience fragmentation a fact of life, there are umpteen specialized charts on Billboard and in USAToday, including “contemporary Christian,” but dig a little deeper into the CCM category and you discover cover versions of every other genre available. Which brings us to this news…
That summer festival that is the epitome of musical diversification, Cornerstone, will not be having a main stage this year. The place will rock as usual, to be sure, but the earthquake will not have an epicenter. Frontgate Media reports:
…Abandoning a single main stage this year, Cornerstone has moved to three genre-specific stages, making it easier for all styles of music lovers to have an exceptional experience at the world’s most unique Christian music & arts festival. Scheduled for July 2-7, 2012 in Bushnell, IL, the festival draws attendance from around the world.
For the past 29 years, faith-filled attendees of all ages, styles and denominations have made the pilgrimage to the hills of Western Illinois for this week-long celebration. They come to be inspired through seminary level classes and discussions, entertained with the best in music and film, spurred to further creativity with visual art, invigorated through sport and competition and to experience spiritual renewal among this diverse gathering of believers that makes the Cornerstone Festival community.
This year, the three new main music stages will have a more genre-specific feel:
Center Stage (formerly the main stage) will be the home for the pop, rock and indie music fan. Staged in a large circus tent, the Center Stage will have the atmosphere of a more intimate club setting. Artists on this stage include reunions of the OC Supertones and Squad Five-O, Eisley, Josh Garrels, and Danielson. Neal Morse (solo artist and member of Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic), will be doing a special 2-hour set.
The Gallery Stage has long been a favorite of Cornerstone veterans. This stage, as always, is designed with the acoustic and folk fans in mind. Artists include Over the Rhine, The Farewell Drifters, Iona, Glenn Kaiser Band, The Choir, The Violet Burning and Ashley Cleveland.
Fans who like music at a louder volume, including metal, punk and hardcore, will be drawn to the impressive lineup at the Underground Stage. Confirmed artists include The Chariot, Norma Jean, For Today, Flatfoot 56, White Collar Slideshow and War of Ages.
More artists will be announced in the coming weeks on all stages.
But isn’t the image of a summer music festival an image of 30-40,000 people sitting on a cavernous hillside? Isn’t breaking up the audience a little like breaking up the band? (No band in particular, it’s a euphemism.) And won’t the sound waves from the various stages crash somewhere in the middle, setting off car alarms in the parking lot?
I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.
Anyway, for all you counter-cultural types out there who want to be first in line at the closest thing North America has to Greenbelt’s fringes, the early access special at the Cornerstone website expires today.
It's hard to capture a festival audience in a single photo, so even though we're talking about Cornerstone, we borrowed this picture from the Creation festival