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Rock Lotto seeks participants for Festival Days


August 1, 2019

The annual Rock Lotto is returning for its fourth year and is looking for Hi-Line area musicians of all skill levels to sign up for the event.

“My favorite part is getting people to reconnect with live music and enjoy making music,” Dave Martens, event organizer and manager of KNMC 90.1 FM, Montana State University Northern college radio station, said.

A press release said that KNMC 90.1 FM has held the Rock Lotto for the past four years and will be holding the performance once again Saturday, Sept. 21, during Havre Festival Days. The event takes local musicians and places them into bands at random for a one-time performance. The songs each band will be playing will also be drawn at random. The bands consist of a guitarist, bassist, drummer, keyboardist and horn player or a lead and/or backup vocalist. Participants who can play multiple instruments are also encouraged to list a backup instrument, in case too many people sign up to play a particular instrument.

Martens said if people are unsure of performing or don’t want to be “in the spotlight,” backup singing is a great way to get their feet wet and try out the event.

“In a short amount of time, five people are coming together with five different ideas,” he said.

Deadline to sign up is Wednesday, Aug. 14, at noon, the release added.

Martens said that the event has grown over the years, the first one consisting of 20 musicians. He added that since then they have seen many returning musicians as well as new faces who are interested in the event. Last year, the event had 35 Havre-area muscians sign up, creating seven different bands which performed at Town Square during Festival Days.

“It was really hard to explain to musicians what it was,” he said. “… It has grown in that regard.”

This year they are also looking to expand the event, he said, adding that they want to include more Hi-Line musicians. If people in Chester, Fort Belknap or the surrounding area are interested in the event, they can create their own bands to perform. He added that the bands would need to contact him and be assigned songs to perform.

Martens can be reached at [email protected]

Martens said the goal is to get musicians together to play outside of their comfort zone and play with people they don’t know. He added that the event also helps to expand the knowledge of musicians in the area and opens the area to new possibilities.

“The next time you do, maybe, want to do a musical project, or put a band together, you know some people to call,” he said.

He added that he got the idea for the event while in Missoula. Missoulian Jason McMackin, who is originally from Portland, Oregon, had the original idea for the Rock Lotto and Martens thought it would be a great addition to Festival Days in Havre.

“I think there, particularly in Havre, are not many bands forming organically like a generation or two ago, he said, adding that people have a lot of things to keep them entertained other than music.

The press release says that before Havre had an annual Festival Days celebration, a music festival held every May from the 1930s through the 1960s. The event would bring regional bands to town to perform, and Martens and KNMC seek to honor this history through the Rock Lotto.

“I love the performances,” he said. “And the day of, my favorite part is watching musicians come out of their shell and have fun.”

He said most of the participants in the Rock Lotto are adults with families and it’s difficult for people to try to coordinate schedules and find time to practice. He added that last year a few bands were not able to rehearse until a week before the event, but it ended up working out.

This year, bands will be given five weeks to rehearse and practice before the event, he added.

Martens said people usually don’t have a problem finding places to rehearse, and local bars and taverns are usually good about letting people utilize their space. He added that if a band is having difficulty finding a place to rehearse they can contact him.

People can sign up for the event online at https://forms.gle/ZPWWU5gJzZNomYsA8 or in person at Atkinson Music at 1033 Fifth Ave.


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