Phoenix Rock Lottery. Photo via Facebook

5 New Bands, 15 New Songs Coming to Crescent with Phoenix Rock Lottery

Written by Nikole Tower Category: Music Issue: January 2018
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The fifth annual Phoenix Rock Lottery returns to Crescent Ballroom on Saturday, Jan. 27. Twenty-five local artists will come together bright and early in the morning to form five bands. Then, they get less than 24 hours to write three songs and learn one cover to perform that night.

Stephen Chilton started the event in 2014 to provide a challenge to some of the local talent and a unique show concertgoers won’t find elsewhere. All proceeds will go to Rosie’s House, a nonprofit that brings music education to underserved youth.

This year’s artists includes Scott Hessel of the Gin Blossoms, Tom Linton of Jimmy Eat World, Mark Glick of AJJ, Nicole Laurenne of The Darts/The Love Me Nots and more. PHOENIX magazine got the chance to catch up with Chilton, Hessel and Laurenne about tomorrow’s show.

Chilton says he saw advertisement for a similar event in Tucson at Plush, a lounge and concert hall now known as The Flycatcher. Once the idea was explained to him, he says he had to bring it to Phoenix and started making phone calls the next day to make it happen.

If you were at one of the last Rock Lotterys, you’ll be familiar with the format, but don't expect to see familiar faces. Not a single musician this year has been on a previous Rock Lottery lineup. As for the music, Chilton says, it doesn’t exist yet so no one knows what to expect.

“You have to come in with a completely open mind because when you walk in the door there is still no way to know what you are about to hear,” Chilton says. “Even if you know one or two of the musicians or at least their bands, what they do in the lottery may sound like nothing they have ever done before.”

Since the first Rock Lottery, Chilton always wanted it to be a benefit event. It seemed only fitting to choose a charity that was related to music, which is why benefits are going to Rosie's House, a free music academy for underserved children in Phoenix. Chilton says he likes to choose smaller, local charities to benefit because he can see that it has a real impact.

Having no music ability himself, Chilton says if he was in the lottery, he would feel sorry for anyone who got stuck with him as a bandmate. If he could be in a band with someone, he says he would be excited to have Tom Linton in his group. He’s the last member of Jimmy Eat World to be in the show.

Hessel says he is looking forward to being involved with show. Being a drummer, he says he’s “lucky in that I don’t necessarily have to contribute any chord changes – unless we plan on switching instruments, in which case all bets are off.” Hessel has a few friends who participated in previous Rock Lottery shows, and they had nothing but good things to say about the experience. They did suggest to him that he should bring his own name tag, because “you can only say ‘dude’ and ‘man’ so many times in one day.”

Meeting other musicians and going outside of what she’s used to when she writes songs is what Laurenne says she is looking forward to. She says she normally writes alone so songwriting as a team may be a challenge. When asked who she hopes to see in her band, she wants all of the drummers. She doesn’t know if it’s true, but she thinks “drummers are the coolest people in the room usually.”

Doors open to the public at 7 p.m., the show starts at 8:30. Tickets range from $12-$15, and you must be 21 or over to attend. Visit for more information.