The Cherry Pit Redefines Local Music

In the heart of the Twin Cities music scene, a new community-oriented music collective has sprouted through the web of independent artists, newcomer musicians, and indie and alternative rock bands.

The Cherry Pit is a group of local creatives who aim to revolutionize creating and performing live music. By breaking down the barrier between artist and audience member, creating an intertwined network of musicians from across the metro, and nourishing a space that welcomes all voices and talents regardless of experience level, it’s no wonder that the Cherry Pit’s first season in the Twin Cities has quickly cascaded into a series of sold-out performances—completely packed, but at no charge. Every cohort has a suggested donation, but the price to attend has been free. 

“I want to see people’s pure, unadulterated, artistic spirit,” Leo Dreis, the founder and creative director behind The Cherry Pit and the face behind Marvelous, his musical alias, said as he walked through what makes a Cherry Pit performance. “Allowing folks to do that in an improvisational way is a great form because there’s no preconceived notion of what the particular song is supposed to be.”

Each month the eight-person Cherry Pit team—many of whom are musicians themselves—creates a reinvented performance with a new group of local musicians. Each event includes an orchestrated show, followed by a jam session that welcomes anyone to grab a mic or hop on the drums regardless of experience level. Dreis draws connections between artists that he believes would compliment each other’s sound and style through people he’s met and played alongside in the Twin Cities, connecting them through Cherry Pit performances. The artistic vision, theme, and venue ideas come through “circle time”—what the group calls genuine and organic practice time and conversation with the newly formed band—and community connections.

Originally from Madison, Wisc., Dreis created The Cherry Pit while in high school in 2019. What began as word-of-mouth jam sessions with friends-of-friends in his parents basement grew into recurring performances with all-local rotating bands in new venues across Madison. In the summer of 2022, Dreis moved to Minneapolis and brought The Cherry Pit with him. 

The collective operates around the notion of creating a community space as comforting as walking into your best friend’s tapestry-covered basement, fully orchestrated through community engagement. The Cherry Pit aims to give musicians a boost above the traditional hardships that shadow the music industry. Pushing aside the competition and jealousy that can bubble up in traditional performance spaces, The Cherry Pit hopes to not only highlight the talent we have in the Twin Cities, but offer connection, advice, and help that isn’t normally available to local musicians. The collective is a chance for artists to find connections to form bands, find photographers and videographers, and to offer guidance for new musicians performing for the first time. In the future, the group hopes to include photos, video, and a bio of every artist involved in the performances on their website for portfolio and job opportunities. The Cherry Pit is not simply a monthly performance. It offers artistic freedom and recognition to Twin Cities musicians.

“We don’t want this sense of freedom and connection to exist just once a month,” Hanna Svanoe, the group’s community outreach coordinator said. “We really want to figure out how we can consistently help each other thrive in real opportunities that come up for all of us involved in Cherry Pit. We all know the difficulties that come with being a musician, and we really want to lessen those as much as we can. ”   

The new collective has welcomed local artists Xina, Papa Mbye, Huhroon, and Henry Breen as just a few of the names to grace their performance spaces. If you’re interested in seeing a Cherry Pit showcase, this season’s last cohort performance will be on March 4 at the Green Room in Uptown, with tickets available, followed by a still-to-be-announced season finale in May.

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