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Saxophonist Mary Pat Hughes says her band plays “jazz, funk, Cajun, soul…and just a hint of rock.” The group, however, is called 2 Funkin’ Heavy for a reason: Its extensive repertoire of covers includes the Commodores’ “Brick House,” the Ohio Players’ “Skin Tight,” and Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good.” And—of course—Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music.”
Hughes also handles vocals for the all-female combo, whose size ranges from five to 11 members. (Its number is largely determined by venue budgets. As Hughes puts it, “Depends who’s buyin’.”) A classically trained musician with a degree in bassoon performance from Towson State University, her credits range from backing Aretha Franklin to performing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Hughes has been playing music since she was 10, picking up the saxophone at 12 and the bassoon at 14. “I had a lot of energy, so they handed me a bassoon to shut me up and slow me down,” she recalls.
It didn’t work. Hughes, a longtime club-circuit performer, estimates that she now plays “between four and six services a week.” In addition to making the rounds of D.C.- and Baltimore-area clubs, the band has recently played venues as disparate as cruise ships and penitentiaries. Hughes and two Funkin’ bandmates also perform as Trio de Janeiro, a Latin and jazz combo. As for 2 Funkin’ Heavy, the group is currently at work on its first CD. The basic tracks for two originals have already been laid down, and Hughes hopes to see the disc completed “within five to six months.”
In the meantime, the band’s five-song cassette is available for $7 from Mary Pat Hughes, P.O. Box 24559, Baltimore, MD 21214. 2 Funkin’ Heavy performs March 1 & 8 at Mr. Henry’s in Adams Morgan; Trio de Janeiro performs March 28 at Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill. CP