It’s weird. It’s wild. But it works. Getting funky and finding your groove is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of The Franco Center in Lewiston, Maine, but that’s exactly what happens when New York Funk Exchange comes to town.

For the past three years, the 9-piece band out of Brooklyn, N.Y. has brought down the house and stimulated Mainers out of their seats and onto their feet. Who knew that Mainers could shake their booties like they were James Brown or Chaka Khan? The band’s lead vocalist Serena Fortier definitely knew.

Fortier, a 2002 Lewiston High School graduate, occasionally returns home. While she’s in town, she happens to bring a few friends — a four-piece horn section known as the Wall Street Horns, a couple of guitarists, a drummer and a keyboardist. Traveling in an oversized vehicle they affectionately call the “White Whale,” New York Funk Exchange members leave their gigs in Brooklyn and Manhattan to trek up north. Once they take the stage, they never fail to crank up the heat downstairs in Heritage Hall, despite the stubbornly frigid temperatures outside.

“Every time we come home, the reception is great,” said Fortier, taking time from her day job for a phone interview. “I don’t think funk music comes to Lewiston that often, but it is so much fun.”

This time around, New York Funk Exchange will share brand new tunes from their new album, “This Is Your Brain On Funk.” Scheduled for release on Modern Vintage Records this spring, the band’s second album has been a few years in the making and has had a few road blocks.

“It’s taken a lot to get this album recorded,” said Fortier. “But it’s all done, and it’s definitely worth the wait. The band is much more cohesive now, and this album has our sound.”

Fortier describes NYFE’s sound as “new school with old soul.” One of the tracks on the new album, “Dotted Line,” features a horn section that swings in tight unison, guitar and keyboard solos that drift into jazz improvisation, and, of course, the full-bodied vocals of Fortier. It’s the stuff that makes you sweat, not sit.

All 12 songs on the album are original tunes by Fortier and keyboard player Jamey Zebrack. Fortier, who graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2006, said she usually writes the lyrics and melodies, while fellow Berklee musican Zebrack puts the sound together in a polished arrangement. It helps that Fortier works during the day at Avatar Studios and Zebrack works at Chung King Studios. Between the two job sites, the album came together with the best of equipment and personnel.

Besides Fortier and Zebrack, band members include Ray Homan on drums and vocals, Matt Fox on bass guitar, Matty G on guitar, RJ Avallone on trumpet, Nick Martino also on trumpet, Matt Maley on baritone and soprano sax, and Mike Farrell on tenor sax.

“We all jam out our ideas,” said Fortier. “Everyone in the band actually puts their own personality into each song. And it’s so great around here (the studio) because they all know what our dream has been all along.”

Since the days at Lewiston High School, Fortier has loved to sing. But she had no idea she could pursue music as a career until her mother, also a musician, encouraged her to audition for Berklee. She earned a spot at the prestigious music school and has been living the life of a performer since. The band plays regularly at Club Groove in Greenwich Village and plans to go on the road this summer to promote their latest work.

“We definitely want to make a go of it,” said Fortier. “Our fingers are crossed.” Local fans coming to the Lewiston show can also look forward to a few throw-backs, in addition to the new music. The band will bring out tunes from their first album, “The Funkonomic Stimulus Plan,” which was self-produced in 2009. And of course, they’ll throw in a few classic funk covers from bands like Tower of Power as well. Fair warning to anyone who comes to the show — don’t be surprised if you find yourself kicking off your shoes and getting, well, a little funky.

What: New York Funk Exchange

When: 8 p.m. Friday, March 28

Where: Heritage Hall / Franco Center, 46 Cedar St., Lewiston

Tickets: $10 in advance (www.francocenter.org or 689-2000) / $12 at the door


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