Fri 4/5-Sat 4/6
When it comes to April draft excitement in Northeast Ohio, such enthusiasm is normally associated with the Cleveland Browns selecting yet another quarterback. Well, not this year (thank you, John Dorsey).
Instead, this spring all of the city-wide draft attention belongs to the Lottery League, which returns like an angry bear awakening from its three-year slumber for another round of DIY fun featuring new bands comprised of musicians from Cleveland’s music scene.
The festivities kick off on April 5 with the 2019 Lottery League Showcase Fundraiser and Pre-Draft Party 2019 at the Beachland Ballroom. The band lineup includes Queen of Hell (formed in the 2013 Lottery League), Hiram-Maxim (formed in the 2013 Lottery League), cotton ponys, Harvey Pekar, Public Squares, Forager (formed in the 2016 Lottery League), Cheap Clone and Halloween Candy (formed in the 2016 Lottery League).
The actual draft takes place April 6 at the Waterloo Road venue, with the Lottery League Band performance “The Big Show MMXIX” scheduled for June 8 at the Ingenuity Labs & The Hamilton Collaborative Warehouse.
CoolCleveland talked to Lottery League creator and co-founder Jae Kristoff, who co-produces the event with Michael James, about the fifth installment of the garage band affair.
CoolCleveland: After three years, the Lottery League is back. How did you land on making it a triennial affair?
Jae Kristoff: We find that three years is a good amount of time for us to be able to do it, but not be disruptive within the local music scene since all of our participants are active in Cleveland. It’s always exciting for us. It’s a different landscape every time we come back. There are a lot of new bands, new musicians that are interested in this.
CC: Has the Lottery League had an impact on the Northeast Ohio music scene?
JK: Yes, outside of the fact that we have bands that are still active — Queen of Hell and Hiram-Maxim are from 2013 and have records out, and then there are bands from 2016 still together — we really see collaborations that happen after the fact. For example, if a regular band loses a guitar player, they’ll be like, “What about that guy from the Lottery League who was really cool?” That’s what we’ve seen, musicians who have met from the Lottery League, then collaborated on later projects.
CC: Going back to the origin of the Lottery League, was that an intended outcome?
JK: No, we were doing a music collaborations project. Back then, we were active musicians ourselves, and these were our friends we had to talk into doing something crazy and committing to this project. We anticipated there being a lot more attrition. The magic of the Lottery League is all of these bands have made it to the Big Show two months later. In the beginning we were thinking maybe some bands will make it, but the musicians have all made this work.
CC: Since 2008, how many musicians and bands have taken part in the Lottery League?
JK: There have been 149 bands created from 2008 to 2016 with 399 musicians who have participated. That number will grow this season. We’re right there again between 150 and 160 musicians.
CC: How does participation in the Lottery League work?
JK: We always have new musicians that come in. First, they reach out to us directly, but there’s no way we can really vet people we don’t know. So that’s where we rely on our veterans who have participated and understand the challenge, understand this might not be for everybody. That you’re putting yourself out there where you’re creatively going to be in a hole. We need to make sure that everybody that comes through understands they need a sense of humor, must be creative and will be able to work together. That’s where through our veterans we have a referral of the new participants. We also make sure that the new participants are active musicians in the Cleveland music community.
CC: What’s great about the Lottery League draft is how bands are formed featuring members without any previous ties. Can you explain how this works?
JK: We have an incompatibility (component) through our algorithms. That includes anybody you’ve ever made music with, collaborated with, worked with, dated, lived with. Those are all people on our list you have to check off and through our algorithms you will not be placed in a band with them. That way, the members in the 40 bands that will be created are all strangers.
CC: Finally, are you surprised the Lottery League has lasted so long?
JK: There’s a magic to the Lottery League. It’s still kind of strange to us — being 12 years later — that this is something that has become such a tradition around here. It’s something we want to see continue on for a long time.
[Written by John Benson]