What: Nightfall concert series featuring Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes
When: 8 p.m. Friday, July 5; Lumbar Five opens at 7
Venue website: www.nightfallchattanooga.com
Artist website: www.johnnysketch.com
2013: "2000 Days"
2011: "10th Anniversary -- Live at Tipitina's"
2008: "The Big Awesome"
2005: "... Pain, Pleasure, Fear and Opera"
2004: "Live at the Spleaf"
Lumbar Five is a local multigenre quintet featuring bassist Nick Honerkamp, drummer Jo Whitaker, percussionist/vocalist Kofi Mawuko and multi-instrumentalists John Rawlston and Kathy Veazey, who also is the band's lead vocalist. For more information, visit www.lumbarfive.com.
In 2001, cellist/guitarist Marc Paradis and a group of fellow classical and jazz music students at New Orleans' Loyola University formed a group as a joke entrant into a university-wide battle of the bands. The plan was to wear costumes and engage in shenanigans to entertain the audience and themselves.
The band, Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes, was never supposed to win, but that's precisely what happened. After several years of continuing to think of it as a fun side project, the bandmates suddenly discovered that, like it or not, they had a following.
"It was a process of, 'Well, we're here. Why don't we try this?'" Paradis says. "It's like a kid growing up: You don't know who you are until you get there. I guess this is the kind of band we turned into."
Whatever its origins, Johnny Sketch's performance history is no joke. This year, the band celebrated its 10th consecutive appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and also have made frequent showings at the city's French Quarter Festival.
This summer, Sketch and company will put in appearances from Florida to San Francisco's Boom Boom Room as part of a tour in support of its latest album, "2,000 Days," which was released this spring. Friday, July 5, Johnny Sketch (Paradis' stage name) and his bandmates will make their Chattanooga debut as this week's Nightfall headliner.
After more than a decade together, the band's philosophy of allowing their musical approach to evolve organically has resulted in a sound that is simultaneously recognizable and all over the place, stylistically. Johnny Sketch takes full advantage of a diverse lineup consisting of a rock power trio (bass/guitar/drums) with a horn section and -- curiously -- an electric cello, for good measure. The band's music sprawls, in true Big Easy fashion, with tendrils touching styles from rap, funk and rock to jazz and klezmer.
Paradis says that the band members' academic background in formal music education has helped them adapt to this wide-ranging sound, which other artists might find prohibitively difficult. The inherent freshness of approaching music in such a free-form fashion has helped keep things interesting onstage and off, he says.
"I want [the audience] to feel like they ... didn't have to listen to the same song 20 times, that there was a contour -- an arc -- to it," he say. "I want them to have fun, but in that punk-rock sense, I also want people to have a visceral experience.
"We're not going to kick holes in the wall, but it's also not candle-lit table, toe-tapping jazz music; it's high-energy."
Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@times freepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.