New York funk returns to Franco Center

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A 2002 graduate of Lewiston High School, Fortier studied vocal performance and songwriting at Berklee College of Music in Boston where she graduated in 2006; she has lived in Brooklyn ever since.

“You know, there’s nothing better than a hometown crowd,” Fortier, now 28, said of her upcoming return. “They know the songs and they sing along and it’s just great to see all those people from my past.”

New York Funk Exchange is a nine-piece band laden with horns that possesses a keen grasp of the 1960s and 70s rhythm-and-blues bands that inspired their sound. They don’t just love performing James Brown’s music; they pay very close attention to the horn arrangements of Brown’s legendary sidemen — Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker and St. Clair Pinckney, known as the JB Horns.

While the band does include renditions of r-and-b classics in their concerts, they also play a lot of their own material. They are set to release their second album of original material this spring after signing recently with a New York-based independent label.

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Fortier — who uses the French pronunciation of her last name — said that the band will tour around the country in support of the album once it is released. The Franco Center show will be their first in Lewiston since last fall.

Despite her youth, Fortier spoke of an encounter in which the singer Roberta Flack told her to lie about her age, no matter how young she looks. She met Flack a couple times at a recording studio last year.

“I told her I was 27 and she said, ‘Oh no, baby, you take five years right off the top of that!’”

The Franco Center is located at 46 Cedar St. Tickets for this 21-plus concert are $10 in advance or $12 at door. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.francocenter.org, by phone at 689-2000, or at the Franco Center box office, which is open Monday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m.

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