Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes: The Big Awesome

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 clich├ęs 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.

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[Published on: 4/23/08]

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George W. Bush II starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/24/2008 10:07AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

George W. Bush II

Well if that aint the best damn review ive ever read than i guess i just dont know how to read. I will be buying this album, thank you!

kb4404 Thu 4/24/2008 03:58PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes rock! Just a great group a guys that put on one of the most fun live shows you can see!! For those of you going to Jazzfest in the next two weeks, be sure to work these guys into your plans you will be glad you did!!

sequoiadean starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/25/2008 12:00PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I saw them at the MOMs Halloween ball last October at Howlin Wolf in New Orleans, and they were awesome! They played the entire show in costumes, including one guy who wore a Dick Cheney mask all night!

n-1 Fri 4/25/2008 06:58PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

stuckinabeat you made my day

dremieres Sat 4/26/2008 08:05AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

THANK YOU! This band is AMAZING and very diverse. Do yourself a favor and get all their albums. Have seen them everywhere from FL to ATL to CO and a damn great experience every time!

Mr. Brojangles starstarstarstar Mon 4/28/2008 05:38PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Really good band. Been a while since I've since them. Hope they come my way again soon.

toulouse starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/8/2008 08:02AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I saw the Sketchy Unit at Jazz Fest. It was smokin'! I liked em so much I went to 2 other night shows in town. Those shows were rocking too. I highly recommend checkng this band out. Both live and recorded.