Musicians are like gamblers-both taking the fringe path to make their mark on the world. The rest of the world is reluctant to respect either craft-whose reputations are stained by their relative dubious environs. And while talent and surefire tact are helpful in both pursuits, success is rarely had without the generous assistance of Lady Luck.
In music, the multiple X-factors of group mentality make things even more difficult. Is that new guitarist gonna be the face card on your double-down, bringing the play of existing members up a notch, or will he just drink all your beer, sleep with your girlfriend and hawk your P.A. before fleeing the state?
Two local musicians are plotting to surrender the entire process to chance with an event called the Rock 'n' Roll Lotto. Nina Reynolds, guitarist for all-girl rock band The Glossines, and cohort Melanie Barrows (who plays bass, keyboards and trumpet, but is not currently in a band) are the pit bosses of the project.
Right now, they're collecting names and specialties of local musicians. Then, they plan to toss them all into a hat and randomly draw names that will form ad hoc bands. These new bands will have three weeks to contact each other and arrange practice before taking the stage at The Casbah on July 28.
The event is a fundraiser, an attempt to counter a stroke of terrible luck suffered by San Diego musician Brian Barrabee. Bassist for local bands Battling Maxo and The Long and Short of It, Barrabee recently broke his back and is paralyzed from the waist down. Like most musicians, he doesn't have medical insurance. All proceeds of Rock 'n' Roll Lotto will go to help pay his medical bills.
Rock 'n' Roll Lotto "is a fun thing we've talked about doing for a long time," says Reynolds, who worked alongside Barrabee at Krakatoa, a coffeeshop known for employing musicians because of boss man Tim Mays, who also owns The Casbah.
"Tim is a good friend and was Brian's employer, and he isn't interested in making money off of the show," Reynolds says.
The concept of randomly putting together San Diego musicians for one night of one-off bands and new songs sounds novel, but Barrows says it's an annual tradition of a bar in her hometown of Richmond, Va. called Nancy Raygun's. The ultimate goal is to help out a fallen member, obviously, but Reynolds also hopes the event will strengthen the sense of community among the local music scene.
"It's an awesome opportunity to network or whatever you want to call it," she says. "The idea of bringing together musicians who wouldn't be likely to get together otherwise is cool."
Reynolds and Barrows insist they won't intentionally form any supergroups-the randomness of the process being its primary allure. But a touch of executive order is necessary so that A) you don't wind up with some monstrosity consisting of three bassists and an accordion player, and B) to ensure that San Diego's less abundant resources-like drummers and instrumentalists who play weird crap like the oboe or the Jewish harp-are spread around in somewhat equal measure.
To do this, Reynolds says they'll separate all the entrants by instrument and then dump 'em into the big hat of fate.So far, musicians can sign up at M-Theory Music and Live Wire, but Reynolds and Barrows are looking for more places to put sign-up boxes. Interested parties can enter the Lotto, learn how else to help Barrabee, and get more info by contacting sdrocklotto@ yahoo.com.