This band has chops

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If Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes were a man, you'd date him. The band has a musical sound that's well-educated but still able to have fun and be funny.

As musicians try to be original in a supersaturated market, they combine and overlap genres, often with muddied results, but Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes seems to have found a way to mix and match sounds in a way that's more thought-provoking than head-scratching.

What: Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes When: 10 p.m. today and Saturday Where: The Tugboat Grill & Pub in Ski Time Square Cost: $25 tonight; $5 on Saturday Call: 879-7070.

This band has chops.

No one would expect to hear someone rhyming over a harmonica, combining distorted versions of country and hip-hop into something that works.

The six members of Johnny Sketch are classically trained musicians who graduated from Loyola University. Although they still slip a few classical music puns into the show, playing a classical theme here or there as a nod to their roots, these guys are all about the funk.

Marc Paradis, who earned his degree in cello performance, never formally studied the guitar.

"I just started playing guitar to get some relief from the structure of school," he said. "I would sit in front of the television and watch MTV and learn songs."

It was a complete accident, he said, that Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes became a band at all or that he became a guitar player in it.

The musicians formed a band to enter Loyola's Battle of the Bands competition. They did it mainly to mess with the drummer's girlfriend, who was organizing the battle.

"We made this awful audition tape, but she couldn't turn down her boyfriend," Paradis said. "We won the battle, and that was the grand beginning of the band."

The band has a full, horn-driven sound that leads you in one instrument at a time.

Influenced by bands including Tower of Power and the Beach Boys, the band "covers a lot of bases," Paradis said. "We might be playing funk and then we'll sneak in some jazz, and people who don't usually like jazz still get into it because we provided them with that buffer.

"We want to be opening people's eyes, hoping they can dig the weird stuff as much as the straight funk."

In its early days, the band became famous for its outrageous live shows. The musicians originally wore costumes at every show -- playing a CD release party in tuxedoes and boxer shorts on one occaision.

"It's all about our philosophy of being more than a sound," Paradis said. "We're not just standing there like mannequins. If people just want to hear a band, they can listen to the CD. But they came to see the band, and you should give them something to look at.

"We're young, ignorant and enthusiastic. We're willing to do what it takes to bring an audience in."

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