Like yesterday, the New Band stage was my first stop for the day, which promised some real treasures. First up was MossEisley, a Texas band consisting of 4 siblings and a friend. I always hate talking about the age of a band’s members; it’s about as irrelevant as their gender or race. But even so, I was greatly impressed considering their age; none of the band looked older than 18, and yet they wrote some real solid songs. At times, it felt a little derivative, but I’m putting it down to their ages; if they’re writing songs like this now, I can only imagine they’ve got better ones just waiting for them.
Up next was Lasso, one of last year’s real surprises. Simple, country-tinged ballads that feel ideal for driving your semi down that lonesome stretch of I‑80 while your girl is waiting for you back on the farm. Unfortunately, sound problems cropped up again, with the vocals turned way too low for the music (a real shame, since half of Lasso’s appeal is Tim Miser’s voice).
I spent the rest of the day in the merch tents or at the Elevator Division’s booth (anything to get out of the sun). After some snafus trying to get an interview with Rosie Thomas, I just decided to hang out until her set, which would prove to be one of the best of the whole week.
I’d caught Rosie Thomas in Omaha the week before, and fell in love with her music. And tonight’s show was just as special, if not more so. I can’t think of anything better than to listen to great music while surrounded with your friends (in this case, Nolan, Melissa, Liz, Jessie, and Jesse). Rosie took the stage and soon had the crowd eating out of her hand with her wit and charm, but more importantly, her realness.
Between songs, she told jokes, sometimes giggling more than anyone else in the tent. But when she sang… oh my. Hers is a voice of beauty, deep and rich, that evokes shades of Over The Rhine and Paula Frazer. And her songs… simple folksongs of heartbreak, regret, and moving on (and most definitely not “rocky dreampop,” as listed on the Cornerstone site).
Throughout the set, I had a big, dumb grin on my face; I knew I was watching something special, something real and honest, without any pretense. After her set, she transformed into Sheila, her hapless stand-up alter ego (think Gilda Radner or Mary Katherine Gallagher crossed with a neck brace). And, as she did with her music, she had the crowd laughing and calling for more.
Then it was over to the Underground Stage to catch Unwed Sailor, who has become yet another one of my Cornerstone staples. Considering the band hasn’t played together in months (guitarist Nick Tse moved to London earlier in the year), the songs still flowed together as beautifully as ever. Some may claim their music is repetitive, and it is, but in a solid, comforting way. Again, another great band to watch in the company of friends and loved ones.
After interviewing Rosie Thomas (who is as sweet in person as she is onstage), it was back to the Underground Stage to catch the second half of Brother Danielson’s set. One of my strangest Cornerstone experiences took place at a Danielson Famile show; his music just seems to breed strangeness. Clad in what looked like medieval jester outfits (as opposed to their regular nurse outfits), Brother Danielson and Co. delivered a rollicking, foot-stomping set of falsetto goodness that was as fun and exciting as ever.
There’s an electricity at a Danielson set that you don’t find in too many places; I think too many people are tempted to just write off their music as silly, without realizing how exciting they truly are.
I wondered around the rest of the night, catching a bit of Spy Glass Blue’s set (personally, I’m Scaterd Few kind of fellow) before heading back to the merch tent to try and snag an interview with Sufjan Stevens (who played banjo and sang for Brother Danielson). Overall, a day filled with the highlights (Unwed Sailor, Brother Danielson) and one of the fest’s true gems (Rosie Thomas).