Fri 2/5 @ 8:30PM
Sat 2/6 @ 8PM
The triennial Lottery League fueled by Lagunitas returns this winter with a slew of musicians getting ready to go on a wild two-month journey that not only takes them out of their comfort zone but also in a larger sense strengthens the Northeast Ohio music scene.
In a nutshell, randomly generated groups will write, record and rehearse music that will be showcased at the Big Show scheduled for Sat 4/16 at the Cleveland Agora. However, it all starts with draft night which takes place at the Beachland Ballroom on Sat 2/6. (That’s free to attend.)
The evening before, there’s a Lottery League showcase-fundraiser at the Beachland Tavern and Ballroom. The affair includes performances by Lottery League veteran band Hiram-Maxim, as well as GoldMINES, the Nico Missile, MURDEREDMAN, Sleepy Kid, Bummed Out, Sparrowmilk, Genius Loci and Sammy Slims. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door
Lottery League co-founder Jae Kristoff, who co-produces the event with Michael James, tells CoolCleveland excitement abounds for the fourth installment of the truly do-it-yourself affair.
Congratulations on the fourth installment of the Lottery League. Looking back, what have you learned about the series?
Right off the bat we learned how much magic there was in it. We didn’t expect every band to make it the first year. And the fact that since 2008 108 bands have been created out of it and every band has made it to the Big Show, there’s something special in that. It’s become something that’s a tradition now that we want to see continued. It’s really special that people expect it.
Going back to the first year, was there a fear some of the bands would fall apart or members would bail?
When this was first created, we took 150 musicians from all different genres. We were thinking it would be a war of attrition. We didn’t know how musicians would take the challenge. And every musician has embraced the challenge and had a blast doing something outside of the box. Anything can happen and any kind of combination can happen. Everybody plays different styles but they all have the common bond that making music is an appreciated art form. That has made these unique strangers all be able to collaborate. Musicians fill out a long survey that lists every musician in town and they check anybody they ever collaborated with. So what you end up with is around 40 bands that have the same equal awkwardness going into it.
Entering this year’s Lottery League, how many are returning veterans versus new musicians taking part?
It’s 50/50. The musicians are brought in through a referral process. We don’t go out there and find musicians. Musicians who are Lottery League veterans, who have been involved before, understand the challenge, the creativity and the need to have a sense of humor. We say if you know somebody who is good for this project, who is out there doing something creative, let us know. There’s been a natural turnover. We get an abundance of great referrals so there’s always an influx of fresh musicians.
In your opinion, has The Lottery League enriched the Northeast Ohio music scene?
I believe so. It’s evident not just with the bands that have stuck around but you’ve also seen musicians who would join bands and perform from their relationship of when they were in the Lottery League together. In this town there’s not much separation keeping a lot of people from knowing each other and sometimes it just takes that connection. We have events during the season like bowling night at the halfway mark where musicians get together. If you have friends who are musicians you played with, they’re not in the same band as you, so you have an interest in what Lottery League bands they’re in. And all of a sudden you’re making these connections. It’s fun because those same musicians you’ve seen basically being introduced at the draft, by that point they’re friends and introducing themselves to other people. It’s great to see the camaraderie. It’s something we really enjoy.
As far as the performances, is this more for musicians or will fans of the Northeast Ohio music scene enjoy the Big Show?
I feel like it’s for everybody if you’re a fan of local music and art. If you’ve been to the past Big Shows, really there are a lot of creative elements. Bands have done really unique things with their performance and lots of audio-visual stuff, and different costume designs. I think that if you’re a fan of any of the musicians involved, their regular bands, your interest is drawn to it. In 2013 we had 2,000 people throughout the day come into the Big Show at the Agora. We were able to do it free for the first time and so we can make it available for more people to be aware of it and see the bands at a legendary venue.
Finally, it sounds like the Lottery League is here to stay.
Yeah, this year the organizing body, we jokingly refer to the Council of Chiefs, reached through the league to musicians who have professional jobs. They’ve volunteered their time to help create a really formative foundation for this, so we’re hoping that 40 years from now this will still be going no matter what.[Written by John Benson]