Hail to the Chief: Lottery League originator Jae Kristoff

By now you may have heard of L.A. Lottery League and Saturday’s Big Show.

The idea is simple: take a group of musicians that are total strangers (48 in L.A.’s case) and mix them at random into completely original musical combos. Then give them four weeks to rehearse and—voila! New music no one could ever have predicted.

The Cleveland Council of Chiefs originated this in 2008. Now, Chief Jae Kristoff has arrived in Los Angeles to oversee the Big Show at Project Infest (it’s RSVP only).

How did Kristoff and the other Chiefs dream up Lottery League? And what can we expect from Saturday’s event?

As it was in the beginning...Yes, Jae Kristoff (center) always has to be standing under balloons. (Photo: Craig R. Chojnicki)

O.G. Cleveland Council of Chiefs chief Jae Kristoff is just one of many nice and talented people I know from the Rust Belt. The only place where I’ve ever met more great people is in L.A., so I am excited that you will all get to meet Jae (and Maura, who’s also a Cleveland Lottery League veteran).

Listen to Jae Kristoff on KXLU’s Demolisten 6-8pm today, 2/25, to win tickets.

Here’s a preview of what we will be talking about with Jae:

What’s your name, where do you live and what do you do?
Jae Kristoff, Cleveland I am a student/worker at Cleveland State University where I am the Program Director for the school’s radio station, WCSB.

Do you remember the night you thought of Lottery League?

Artists John Greiner & Jake Kelly collabo'ed on the poster.

I was doing various collaborations with a project band I was in with two other guys called Land of Buried Treasure. We had just finished a release that involved 40 local musicians. Many other musicians were telling us to “let me know if I can be a part of the next one.” We wanted to do something big and were tossing around ideas until one morning I read a drunken social network bulletin from Ed Sotelo about how he thought that all local bands should just break up, and re-form into supergroups.

Immediately, it kicked in. I went to my bandmate Nate Scheible and we talked of how we could have members from various forms of music be randomly put together, then have baseball cards made of each participant, so when you get placed with other musicians you could look up their musical track record.

Eventually we decided it would work best if we had a group of organizors who came from different parts of the great Cleveland music scene. It only made sense to bring an unsuspecting Ed Sotelo into the fold. After having discussions with some who thought it would be a cluster fuck, Michael Pultz and John Delzoppo, both proactive members of the scene, came on board and we eventually became the Council of Chiefs. Then a shit storm of things all came together.

I had been working for years on Excel projects at my job and Excel made a lot of things work smoothly. I have to give thanks to Microsoft Excel.

What were the earliest days of the League like?
Early challenges included just been knowing when to rein in some ideas. Fortunately with a Council to weed out ideas, we nixed most all of the duds.

What’s crazy is of the 67 bands formed so far, none failed to make it through to the Big Show.

What were the highlights of the Big Shows?
The bands have mostly all been surprisingly great. Many have had very novel ideas. And outfits.

What happened after the show? Did it change the music scene?
It definitely had an impact. Though only a handful of Lottery bands ever perform together again, some have been still playing consistently for two years now. Often the case would be a member would eventually join another’s regular band when they needed a replacement.

How many bands carried on after the Lottery?
I think six in 2008 and I know at least eight have played out again after this past year’s Draft Night.

And, shit, it’s not just about the Lottery band—it’s four new drinking buddies!

What were the highlights of the second year?
We included more visual artists into the fold. We held a “bonus” fifth round where your new band could win a visual artist or a personal photographer.

Is there a place people can buy the music or see/watch the bands?
I will have CDs from the first Cleveland Lottery League available at the first L.A. Lottery League Big Show.

What were the hardest decisions you made as a Chief?
I cannot share these details.

What about the Big Show?
It is a magical event—everyone is in the same boat, and they all get to share what has been their new band’s secrets for weeks leading up to the big night.

Lottery League is full of mutants! (Photo: Ileana Il)

What’s next for Lottery League and the Council of Chiefs?
We are planning on expanding into other cities, and of course we look forward to the 2012 Cleveland Lottery League. It is a bi-Annual event in Cleveland. We hope it goes on forever here. We put a lot of time into the template, yet there might always be tinkering here and there. And as we spread it elsewhere we will have to change things to accommodate.

Is there anything you’d like to say to the new Lottery League bands and fans in L.A.?
Have Fun! Shit.

Connect with Cleveland Lottery League—see photos & art

Listen to Jae Kristoff on KXLU’s Demolisten 6-8pm today, 2/25, to win tickets.


Don’t miss L.A. musical history being made…

Experience the simultaneous debut of 12 new L.A. bands!

This Saturday, Feb. 26 at Project Infest

Doors: 8pm

Bands start: Promptly at 9pm

—There will be 2 stages all night—

Admission $5 / all-ages


Watch all the L.A. Lottery League teaser trailers

New bands include members of 27 groups mixed at random to create:

9:00 Lottery Curse
9:15 Medieval Babes
9:30 Double Double
9:45 No No Jammers
10:00 Purebreeds Don’t Bite
10:15 P.O.P. (Positive Outreach Program)
10:30 Fubbx+fn
10:45 Magii
11:00 Fooly Cooly
11:15 Big Wuddup and the Tiny Little Wuddups
11:30 First You Were There, Now You Are Here
11:45 Brohammer


• We need volunteers (must arrive 7pm, stay until 12am)

• We still need equipment (must arrive by 7pm 2/26):

-1 good quality guitar half stack (amplifier & cabinet)

-1 good quality keyboard or PA head (we have 4 x 12 cabinet)

-1 good quality keyboard amp (head & cabinet)

-Two bass drum pedals (high-quality, standard type)

• We need people with HD cameras to film (must arrive by 8pm 2/26)

• We need photographers (must arrive by 8pm 2/26)

Email sean@seancarnage.com if you can help

Add SEANCARNAGE.COM for updates & more

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