The Vermont Cynic

Brooklyn band returns to Vermont


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UVM students know all about getting funked up and the ones that attended this show got their fix.

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, the jazz and funk band New York Funk Exchange played at The Matterhorn in Stowe, Vermont, Jan. 17.

Serena Fortier, vocalist for NYFE, began playing with Jamey Zebrack on keys and vocals, and Mat Godfrey on guitar, during her time at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Zebrack then moved to New York.

Fortier and Godfrey joined him and the band grew into a total of nine members.

The other six members are Matthew Fox on bass, Ray Holman on drums, R.J. Avallone on trumpet, Michael Farrell on tenor saxophone, Matt Maley on alto and baritone saxophone, and Nick Martino on trumpet.

Their show at the Matterhorn is a return to Vermont for NYFE. They used to play at the Rusty Nail when it was in Burlington.

There were two shows on Saturday, a 4 p.m. and a 9 p.m. Unfortunately, Fortier was sick and lost her voice after the first show.

Consequently, the 9 p.m. was cancelled. The show consisted of covers of both well-known and more obscure old school sounds.

One of Fortier’s favorites to cover is Stevie Wonder’s “Did I Hear You Say You Love Me.” The band also focused on their original album songs.

NYFE has produced two albums, “Funkonomic Stimulus Plan,” released in 2009 and “This Is Your Brain On Funk” released in 2014.

They are currently working on a third album. Zebrack predominately composes the instrumentals, with jam sessions that lead to everyone adding their own touches until it is complete.

“You never know what’s going to happen or where the groove is going before it does,” Fortier said.

The lyrics are added based on “the way the groove makes me feel,” said Fortier, who is the songwriter for the group.

NYFE has hopes to head down south, especially to the New Orleans area. Future plans include developing the band to a point where the music supports itself and day jobs are no longer necessary.

“We are stoked to be back in Vermont with you funkers,” Fortier said.

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Brooklyn band returns to Vermont