Cornmeal | 10.17.08 | Illinois

Words by: Herschel Concepcion | Images by: Norman Sands

Cornmeal :: 10.17.08 :: Three Sisters Park :: Chillicothe, IL

Allie Kral - Cornmeal :: 10.17
The Jay Goldberg Rock 'n' Roll Halloween Masquerade Ball was sure to attract all sorts of freakers, tweakers and self-proclaimed weirdos from afar. Set to take place at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, IL, site of the Summer Camp Music Festival (which Jay Goldberg's company also produces), the Masquerade Ball promised to be an evening filled with freakishly good live music. In the spirit of things, all of the acts set to perform would be assuming different personas for the evening, with Chicago-based jamgrass band Cornmeal scheduled to headline as The Doors. A slight departure from their typical shows, Cornmeal would be devoting their entire set to the dark, compelling music of the iconic 1960s rock group.

I couldn't help but feel a bit spooked as I pulled into Three Sisters Park and onto its vast, open parking area shortly after nightfall. The dark has a way of making the mind play tricks on itself, and as I crept through the lot in my Chevy Malibu I imagined freaks of all shapes and sizes rushing out from the cloak of night - dreadlocked monsters brandishing glowsticks and fistfuls of burning sage, demanding sacrifices of human flesh and soy products. It was a frightening thought and I shivered, quickly putting it out of my head as I found a spot and parked.

Waterstreet was playing when I finally made my way into the big tent where the evening's festivities took place. As purveyors of good old fashioned heavy rock 'n' roll, it came as no surprise that the four-piece outfit had taken on the guise of '70s rockers Led Zeppelin. Lead vocalist Evan Hand is also one of the band's two lead guitarists, but Waterstreet's performance that night saw him axe-less as he assumed the role of Robert Plant. He certainly dressed the part, and belted out the classic "Whole Lotta Love" as I walked in.

Moving past the bar, I was greeted by a vixen in a blue psychedelic superhero outfit that decked me out in glowsticks and led me up front. I was right by the speakers now – the perfect spot to let my eardrums explode. I watched as Joe Shadid, the other lead guitarist, shred his six-string Jimmy Page-style before the band launched into "Ramble On." Drummer Rob Gould and bassist Mike Crusen made for a solid, steady rhythm section as the band closed with the psychedelic tour de force "Dazed and Confused." Led Zeppelin is a tough act to cover. Their powerful sound will shake you right to the bone and leave you weak in the knees, and if it doesn't you're sure to be disappointed. But, the boys from Waterstreet hit it and hit it hard, and I was damn impressed. It's no wonder these guys are just one of six bands (out of nearly 8,000) that have been chosen as finalists to compete for the opening slot at an upcoming Mötley Crüe gig at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood. Going against bands from L.A., New York, San Antonio and Seattle, these four guys from the small town of Peoria, IL have earned their shot at taking the next big step in their careers. Good luck, guys.

Brainchild :: 10.17
Brainchild was another four-piece ensemble from Peoria on the bill, and featured the fancy dual guitar work of Roy Ponce and Jake Schultz, in addition to Brandon Mooberry's funky bass and Pony Boy on drum duty. Veterans of Summer Camp (they've played the last four festivals), the band chose to perform the music of Nirvana in tribute to late Nirvana frontman and grunge pioneer Kurt Cobain. They did a great cover of "Drain You" but in the end it was the band's own music that really made an impression.

While Waterstreet was straightforward rock 'n' roll, Brainchild was pure funky jams through and through. Their up-beat "Moon Party Dance Party" had the whole place shakin' and groovin' hard, myself included. Like the song's title suggests, Brainchild's music was a dance party that fused elements of funk, rock, jazz and disco. Their jams were well crafted and creative, incorporating shifting tempos while Ponce and Schultz traded licks on guitar.

After Brainchild's set I found myself milling about near the bonfire outside the tent. It was a cheerful scene - a mixture of youngbloods and old-timers relaxing and keeping warm, smoking and laughing and grinning at the flames. It was a great intermingling between the generations, an affirmation of the bond between our elders and the fresh-faced hope of tomorrow, all smiling and drinking and sharing wild stories. It felt like a gathering of some strange and isolated tribe, made up of all manner of odd individuals but all of the same people - rebels and outcasts, bright and colorful souls with a passion for life.

Masquerade Ball :: 10.17
Inside at the costume contest, there was quite a cast of characters lined up: a giant frosty mug of beer, a half-assed Burger King (who looked like he'd just crawled out of a garbage can in some dark alley), a drunk Spartan and a busty Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, among others. It was like something out of a bad dream. My friend Liz was decked out in a full pimp outfit, complete with tiger stripe coat, shades and excessive bling. Each contestant was presented to the audience in a process of elimination, with the winner to be determined by whoever received the loudest reception for their costume. In the end, it was the guy dressed as a Grateful Dead bear that took first place and received the $500 gift certificate that came with the title.

Everyone was in high spirits and cheers erupted from the intoxicated throng of freaks when Cornmeal took the stage, dressed in black and donning various masks – probably to avoid recognition in the event of a whiskey-induced hippie riot. Anticipation had been running high for this show, and Cornmeal hit the ground running. Chris Gangi (bass) approached the mic and, fueled by the dedicated, dark charisma of Jim Morrison, silenced the crowd with one of the Lizard King's rants. "You can't remember where it was!" he shouted, his booming voice carrying to every corner of the hushed room. "Has the dream stopped?"

The silence was short-lived, however, as drummer J.P. Nowak began laying down the subtle yet unmistakable intro to "Break On Through." Kris Nowak (lead guitar, vocals), looking like a true rock star behind his dark shades, joined in with the song's signature riff before singing the first lines of the classic tune. "You know the day destroys the night/ night divides the day/ trying to run, trying to hide/ break on through to the other side!" I couldn't help but smile as the band blasted us with this great rebellion anthem, the perfect choice to open a set of Doors' music.

Cornmeal :: 10.17
"Love Her Madly" was a fifteen-minute jam that featured some slick soloing by Nowak – who, with Gangi, had gone electric for the set – before he handed it over to the lovely Allie Kral (fiddle, vocals), who lulled the fanatical crowd into a trance with her sultry playing. The band's tight improvisation flowed nicely, eventually making a smooth transition into the funky "Soul Kitchen." I recognized it instantly when Wavy Dave Burlingame (banjo, vocals), rocking a feathered masquerade mask, began plucking the intro on his banjo. After the second chorus, Nowak ripped another searing solo, followed immediately by Ms. Kral's sharp fiddle.

"Soul Kitchen" segued into "Awake," another groovy Doors number that stands as a shining example of Jim Morrison's lyrical prowess. Driven by a funky beat, the song is more like poetry set to music, a mystical ballad that offers a glimpse into the mind of a tortured genius that left this world too soon. It was a great cover, and had Wavy Dave and Nowak adding solid instrumental work at the end.

Things were really heating up. The crowd knew the songs so it was pretty much just one big sing-a-long after another. The energy in the room was palpable, building to new heights with each solo and each chorus. I was still near the stage, about six or seven rows back, and turning around I looked out over the sea of smiling faces, joined together in collective bliss. Some had their eyes closed as they danced, lost in that all-consuming feeling of musical euphoria.

Cornmeal :: 10.17
Cornmeal decided to keep up the funk and went into "Peace Frog," a surefire crowd-pleaser that had the whole place moving before they slowed it down with Morrison's love ballad "The Crystal Ship." This was followed by whiskey ballad "Alabama Song," which had scores of sloppy drunkards shouting and slurring the inspirational chorus, as beer sloshed and spilled from the sides of cups held high above their heads. "Well, show me the way to the next whiskey bar! Oh don't ask why, oh don't ask why!"

What came next was what I had been waiting for, namely "Five to One." This was Morrison's call-to-arms, a battle cry for a whole generation of disenchanted youths fed up with the rules and expectations of a society they wanted no part of, a society run by control freaks and faceless suits who had no understanding – much less sympathy – for them.

After closing out their set with a lively "L.A. Woman", Cornmeal left the stage as the crowd cheered, whistled and called out for more. It was like a pack of wild animals under the tent, and they were making a lot of noise. "One more!" they shouted, hoping for an encore to top off what had already been a killer set. And of course, Cornmeal, ever appreciative of their fans, returned to the stage for not one but two more songs to close out the night.

"When The Music's Over" resonates deeply with me and many others, a spark of rebellion rising once again as the crowd roared, "We want the world and we want it NOW!" It's a good feeling knowing you're not alone. "Gloria" was a great end to a night of fine music, and brought everyone together for one more sing-a-long. It was clear that Cornmeal had put a lot of thought into this performance, and it paid off. They had managed to capture the rebel spirit of The Doors and used it to effectively reinterpret some of the most influential music to ever come out of the '60s. Playing The Doors' music the way it's meant to be played is no small task but Cornmeal nailed it, and then some.

Cornmeal as The Doors - 10/17/08 - "Peace Frog"

Cornmeal :: 10.17.08 :: Three Sisters Park :: Chillicothe, IL
Break On Through, Love Her Madly > Soul Kitchen> Awake, Love Me Two Times, Peace Frog > Crystal Ship, Alabama Song, 5 to 1, L.A. Woman
E: When The Music's Over, Gloria

Continue reading for more images of Cornmeal at the Masquerade Ball...

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jambeatnik starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/11/2008 07:00PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This band is fucking awesome! I remember Cornmeal being featured on as the new groove of the month in 06 or something, but I never gave them a listen... until I saw them this year at Moe.Down and again with Grace Potter... THIS BAND RIPS... they have become one of my favorites... and they make you boogie the entire show... I give them the highest vote of confidence... Does anyone know where I can find the entire show online? The dude who put it up on archive only put up their set of originals rather than whole set.

Mark Price former NBA star Tue 11/11/2008 07:03PM
+7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Mark Price former NBA star

Allie Kral is a babe.

Teabagger starstarstarstarstar Tue 11/11/2008 08:10PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


LOVE Cornmeal. Not sure how this works, but they have a seperate halloween set up on the archive that's a SBD/Matrix. Sounds great. Check it:

Phattiebace Tue 11/11/2008 09:59PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

yah cornmeal is on top of their game and keep progressing...and Allie is my bride to be

nershi6string Tue 11/11/2008 10:59PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

thats the first witch iv ever really wanted to bone.

fishbone1 starstarstarstar Tue 11/11/2008 11:07PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This definitely did not happen ON Halloween, although it was promoted as being a Halloween bash. Cornmeal actually played on 10/31 at Canopy Club. They did not cover The Doors however. This looked great. Too bad I didn't make it out to this one.

schofizzl Wed 11/12/2008 12:16AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


fishbone christmas on mars is pretty tits, eh? but yeah i wish i would have known this was going down... i watched the cornmeal/doors videos on YT and they rock.

why cant they use this tent for free latenights at summercamp?

nershi6string Wed 11/12/2008 12:43AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

^ because goldberg is selfish.

PatOnKauai starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/12/2008 01:47AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


ALOHA to CORNMEAL from Kauai,Hawaii!

Cornmeal is the best!

This show blew my mind. Unbelievable! Cornmeal is my favorite but I never imagined them tearing through well worn Doors songs with such smooth rock-the-hell-out power and exciting poetic grace. Comboed with their jamming creativeness, this show vaulted these pickers into jamband musical history. They definitely prepared hard for this nailing all the beats and licks and feelings that hide in these classic songs. The energy that Cornmeal shares is pure and powerful. The world is opening wide for these youthful jammers and I cant wait to see what happens next. Maybe they'll come out to Hawaii. Please.Please. Check These Guys Out!

ps. The Haunted House was wild late nite! and I loved the "2 smashes on an old car with a sledgehemmer for a buck" ride.

Pickin Pat

Island Grass

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/12/2008 04:12AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

sweet, they can play anything :)

such nice people too :)

the best new grass band out there right now!!!!!!!!!

happyelandorf starstarstarstar Wed 11/12/2008 04:17AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I don't know if I missed it or not, but this says nothing about the Creek Road Ramblers covering The Beatle's Sgt. Pepper album. I heard it was an awesome show. Quite a few of my buddies went and a couple did security. I guess Waterstreet's singer did a good job covering Plant.

SOAM84 star Wed 11/12/2008 06:28AM
Show -9 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
goodB3rger13 Wed 11/12/2008 07:23AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Please come play in one of the following cities: Atlanta, Charlotte, Greenville, Asheville, or Charleston...really, anywhere in the south will do. I am dying to see these guys and have yet to get a chance!!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} Wed 11/12/2008 09:51AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

u have not heard them SOAM. that much is terribly obvious :)

tbeauchaine Wed 11/12/2008 10:52AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

well said miles

SOAM84 star Wed 11/12/2008 12:27PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
theguykeator Wed 11/12/2008 01:31PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


SOAM, you sound very arrogent.

god forbid any progression in genres of music. "I never want to hear anything but strait bluegrass, everything else is garbage"

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} Wed 11/12/2008 01:35PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

yeah and SOAM is the only good phish song too? whatever, u just stay away from tlg and cornmeal, we dont like you anyway :)

r0llingst0ned starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/12/2008 02:08PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I have more vids from that night if you guys want to check 'em out:

I managed to record pretty much the entire set except the last 3 songs.

Oh and SOAM, why would you even waste your time making those kinds of comments? So you can waste ours when we read the garbage you write? Get a life you snide assfuck, do us a favor and keep your bullshit remarks to yourself.

PickinKind Wed 11/12/2008 02:55PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i made sure to be front and center for this one! shit was awesome, just goes to show they can really do anything. they've come a long way, i remember them playing the shakedown every year at summer camp. this show was actually on the grounds of the summer camp festival in chillicothe,il. the whole night was kick ass, waterstreet really rocked a solid ass zeppelin set too. i gotta say though, the halloween costumes featured in the contest were lame shit. always keep some cornmeal in the kitchen....

SOAM84 star Thu 11/13/2008 06:12AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Still Lame....

schofizzl Fri 11/14/2008 12:16AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


you're lame, which is why neither Cornmeal or any of us care if you think they're lame.

panicpanicpanic! starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/14/2008 07:31AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


"I imagined freaks of all shapes and sizes rushing out from the cloak of night - dreadlocked monsters brandishing glowsticks and fistfuls of burning sage, demanding sacrifices of human flesh and soy products"

haha, that is scary

SCIcane starstarstarstarstar Mon 11/17/2008 11:12AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Dying to see these guys live. And FYI, Awake is actually "The Ghost Song"