he Crooked North is a band inspired by the energy of progressive bluegrass, the gritty soul of Americana, and the Rust Belt ethos of their Western New York home. They hammer out originals and choice selections from the great American songbook in bars, living rooms, barns, and festival stages.
Following paths through big cities, bands of all kinds, road gigs, odd jobs, and breaks both good and bad, nationally recognized songwriter Jon Itkin and award-winning instrumentalist Ben Proctor landed in Rochester around the same time. Circumstance had them throwing together a last-minute impromptu gig in January of 2014, with Jon on guitar and Ben on banjo and dobro. Rita Proctor joined on vocals and Jordan Kleiman on bass with almost no rehearsal. It was 3 degrees outside, the sound system didn't work, and they had no band name--but the sparse audience agreed: it was the beginning of something special.
Rita Proctor brings a rich vocal style informed by her love of Joni Mitchell and Dolly Parton. Jordan Kleiman is a history professor who has played jazz and roots music in Philadelphia and Rochester since the 1980s. Eastman student/fiddle barn-burner Tahlia Kott joined in 2015. Local legend John Irvine often rounds out the sound as the band's guest mandolin player.