By: Alex Borsody
Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes is the best band that you never paid much attention to. This band has been around for years, played a number of the major festivals and had a small write-up in Rolling Stone. Success well deserved, and like many bands in the loosely defined jam band genre, success that didn't come overnight. One thing I like about jam bands (for lack of a better term), is that they seem to really earn their success, with hard work, heavy touring and Grade-A talent. But Johnny Sketch is far from a traditional jam band. For one thing, they incorporate an extensive horn section including baritone and tenor sax, trumpet and even flugelhorn. Throw in some funky bass, keys, lightning guitar, virtuoso drums and even splashes of cello and flute, and the result is a very different, eclectic style compared to the many guitar-centered acts in the genre.
This band has its roots in New Orleans, and I'm going to spare you the clichés about greasy funk-laden down-home grooves like grandma's spicy gumbo. "The Big Awesome" incorporates bass, brass and flute in a way that's reminiscent of The Spam Allstars, transitioning from rock and funk to an ambient, laidback horn segue that pulled at my soul like a DJ Shadow sample. This song, like many on the album, is a journey incorporating different styles and rhythms into one piece, taking you on a ride like an epic Led Zeppelin or Phish track. This band knows how to rock, too, breaking out the heavy guitar riffs on "Kaiser," once again weaving their way through rhythm changes, making the song hard-rocking and complex, similar to Umphrey's McGee.
Despite all the comparisons, this band is unique but with many of the good qualities of some other legendary, equally unique bands. This made listening to the album a pleasure and exactly what its title suggests.
JamBase | The Good Foot
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