The Crooked Vines, formerly the AmBrassadors, released their self-titled debut album with celebratory, funk-fueled jams at Prytania Bar this past Saturday, October 10th. Rhythm section Woody Hill (drums), Stephen Bohnstengel (bass), Nick Carlisi (guitar), Steve Schwartz (keys), and horns Lori LaPatka (alto sax) and James Keane (trombone) vamped on a soul/calypso beat before lead singer Mikayla Braun reeled in the first verse. Her sensitive yet compelling voice belted “Can’t you feel it’s time to make a move,” spinning the crowded venue into celebration. Keeping in the spirit of female vocal led soul repertoire, the band broke into a rendition of Estelle’s “American Boy” with Braun at the lead. Everyone had no choice but to sing along. For the rest of night, their heavy-hitting energy sustained and tastefully dipped into sultry/spacey pleasure when the crowd needed it. 

Nick Carlisi improvised gypsy-jazz meets Pink Floyd guitar solos while Lori LaPatka transported Cannonball Adderley to the funk-fest. Steve Schwartz could barely sit still in the excitement of his distorted organ that gives The Crooked Vines their gritty appeal. The amped show spokesman James Keane took James Brown’s lead and yelled to the band to lead into the next section as Woody Hill and Stephen Bohnstengel held down the groove, switching into poly-rhythmic fury on a whim. 

The band’s foundation spurred from Lori LaPatka, who quickly enlisted Steve Schwartz to form a high-quality party cover band. Over time, the current lineup formed and gained popularity at BMC, Verret’s Lounge, and Pryrtania Bar, where they would open for Rebirth Brass Band and Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes. Schwartz’s compositions became party staples and with Braun conducting the energy, The Crooked Vines couldn’t ignore the traction that lead them to create this first album.

Check out the full gallery of images, courtesy of Katie Sikora Photography, below: