Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds
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Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds

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"Premiere: Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds"

They may be from Brooklyn, but the fiery brass- and gospel-infused funk emanating from Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds is rooted in Memphis soul. Their rhythmic wheelhouse combines big-city grit and down-home sweetness with a little bit of Americana twang. Recently, the group snared opening slots with blues and soul revivalists such as the Black Keys and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.

In anticipation of its sophomore full-length, “Pound of Dirt” (out Feb. 28 on Modern Vintage Recordings), the band premieres its song “Millie Mae.” Though the group is based on the East Coast, the new track was actually written by lead singer Sister Sparrow (a.k.a. Arleigh Kincheloe) while staying at a friend’s house in Malibu. (See? There is a local connection after all!)

A native of New York’s Catskill Mountains (along with her brother Jackson, the harmonica player and bandleader for the Dirty Birds), Kincheloe still allowed a bit of her woodsy folk influences to seep into the track. “Looking back, it’s sort of a nod to the roots I have coming from my mom’s taste in music,” Kincheloe said. “She loves singing Emmylou Harris and Patsy Cline sort of stuff.”

Apparently the mix of sunshine and a budding romance in Kincheloe’s life contributed to the band taking a lighthearted detour from its standard hard-charging funk sound.

“I was a bit smitten at the time I wrote it,” Kincheloe said.

Opening with a skittering funk drum beat, Kincheloe’s vocals glide over summertime grooves as the song slowly picks up steam, adding subtle choir harmonies and a burst of brass-filled breakdowns that add a sharp retro feel, recalling that of locals Fitz & the Tantrums. But by practicing a bit of restraint vocally and musically on "Millie Mae," Kincheloe and company manages to carve out a catchy pop tune with a bit of Southern flavor.

“It’s one of the more playful songs on the album. It sort of stands out on its own as a softer side to the Dirty Birds.” - Los Angeles Times Reviewer Millie Mae

"Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds"

Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds, a two year old, nine piece big band chock full of sultry soul, funk, reggae, lounge, and rock grooves has released their self titled debut album on Modern Vintage Recordings. “Modern Vintage” is a fairly apt descriptor for this band at whose core sits 22-year-old singer Arleigh Kincheloe and her brother Jackson on harmonica. With a sound that is one part Nawlins funkified horns another part 1950s sultry lounge act and a few helpings of deep pocket, big band arrangements; The Dirty Birds have come chirping out of Brooklyn harkening back to a different era but grounding themselves in the modern live music scene.

Lead off track “Untie my Shoelaces” carries a swank strut and smooth guitar swing from Sasha Brown. Kincheloe’s voice immediately jumps out front with a sexy, smoky vibe that belies her young age and will bring the boys up front all night long. Horn accents provide faultless fits and starts of melody both propelling the music forward and offering precise counterpoint to the bass and vocals. When backup vocals swerve in at the end, the bootays will shake and the lips will smile. This is just fun.

The album was astonishingly recorded live in one night inside a New York City studio. It must have been a long, fun one because the album shifts from the highly arranged, sped up funk of “Quicksand” and “Baby from Space” to the lite-reggae lilt of “Boom Boom” and “Vices”. Jackson Kincheloe’s harmonica is employed front and center, as a soloing instrument, throughout the album to a unique and pleasant effect.

There are classic-ish soul tracks like “Rock in It” where the taught, Bossanova arrangement and Kincheloe’s vocals shimmy and sway with a hint of Latin flavor. “Just My Eyes” has a gorgeous country cadence that provides a divergent but equally compelling swanky partner to the album’s opening number. Here the vocals are all coy and lovely, flirtatious and nuanced, an out and out winner across the board. Kincheloe’s vocals shine again on the soul ballad, “My House”, where the resonant depth of her chops carries the tune and horn swells help the band achieve a buoyant and sweaty liftoff.

The album has its slow moments, mostly showing up in the more blues based numbers like “Freight Train” and “Eddy” though “Eddy” revs up a bit with inspired harmonica and guitar solos. “Who are You?” sounds a bit too imitative of Afro-beat horn arrangements despite its strong vocal/horn interplay. While Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds aren’t re-inventing funky soul with their debut album they offer an inspired and intriguingly modern take on vintage sounds. The big band structure helps the band diverge somewhat from the oversaturated “new classic” sound of Dap Tone Records and similar offspring. There is a shifty and sly element inside this music. Like lounge lizards slithering through the red velvet booths of an underground club sipping on a gin drink, Sister Sparrow and her massive band of Dirty Birds will surprise you. - Glide Magazine Chris Calarco Reviewer

"IMM Gets Dirty With Frontwoman Arleigh Kincheloe"

Have you ever come across a singer that just blew you away with their vocals? Ever wondered how they prep their chords for hitting those high notes? Or how they seem to just keeping singing without taking a breath?

Well we tried to get to the bottom of this with Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds’ frontwoman, Arleigh Kincheloe. Her voice is addictive. Independent Media Magazine was able to catch up with her via email.

When it comes to prepping for a show, the 23-year-old singer from the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York said “it’s all about the warm-up. But I try to drink as much water and get as much sleep as possible before a gig.”

Singers are notorious for canceling shows due to vocal issues, so how does Kinchloe protect her voice so that doesn’t happen to her and the band? “I don’t have any tricks, really” says the songstress. “I practice everyday to keep up my chops, and try not to do too much shouting. Usually unsuccessfully.”

The budding star realized she wanted to sing at age 10. “I remember a specific moment I had around the age of 10 when I “decided” that this is what I wanted to do” says the New Yorker. “Of course I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’ve been determined to make this happen ever since.”

A new band only has so many new songs to perform live. The Dirty Birds just released their self-titled debut album late last year, and they’re not immune to playing the same song over and over again, growing tired of it. But Kincheloe doesn’t. It’s because she loves the record so much.

“It all happened so quickly – we recorded the whole thing in one night,” says the singer. “The best part for me was listening back after each track and feeling like we actually captured something.”

If you ever seen her sing live, you’ll notice she gets into her zone. How does she come down from it? Well she likes to indulge in bourbon or champagne, her drink of choice, so I’m sure that comes into play. She actually comes down from the ‘stage-high’ by rounding up the band.

“I like to round up the birds, climb in Little Bear (our van) and erupt into a spontaneous dance party. It never stops.” - Independent Media Magazine

"Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds"

Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds is a nine-piece powerhouse that delivers a blend of gut-busting soul, earthy rock, and New Orleans-inspired beats.

Frontwoman Arleigh Kincheloe's powerful voice is ten times her size, mature beyond her 22 years, and she delivers her seductive lyrics with an electric stage presence. Sister Sparrow is backed by a heavyweight horn section, soaring guitar, and shredding harmonica – all laid over a funky, thundering bass and drum lock-up. The band's infectious energy and huge sound generates ecstatic crowds and packs dance floors night after night.

Seeing them perform is an experience that will not be forgotten - this band will remind you why you love music. -

"Album Review: Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds (self-titled)"

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds just released their self-titled debut album off of Modern Vintage Recordings and it sounds like they’ve been playing together for a very long time with 10 records behind them.

The record includes 12 songs from the Brooklyn-based band that has nine members.

The LP is addictive from top to bottom. The group blends soul, rock, and a lot of horns reminiscent of a New Orleans party on Bourbon Street. You hear a lot of traces of their influences like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Nina Simone among others. They do them proud.

A few of the many bright spots on the record are “Freight Train” and “Vices.”

On “Freight Train,” the 22-year-old lead singer, Arleigh Kincheloe, flexes her pipes. It’s got a laid back tone, but delivers an intensity through the vocals that make you feel her life experiences.

“Vices” is a fun track that’s got a reggae beat behind the vocals. Kincheloe speaks on vices, and how we’ve all got them and you’re no one to judge. It’ll remind you of Amy Winehouse.

It should be noted that Kincheloe isn’t the only meat and potatoes of this act. The harmonica work from Jackson Kincheloe was amazing throughout the record.

One of the songs that catches you off guard is “Just My Eyes.” It’s got a country feel to it that speaks on heartbreak and denial. It slows down the album, giving you a nice break from horns and adding something unique.

Overall, it’s an amazing record from an amazing group that will be around for a long time to come. It’s a bunch of talented musicians that know music. Thank god! - Independent Media Magazine

"Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds"

Published: 2011/03/01
by Brian Robbins Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds
Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds
Modern Vintage RecordingsReferring to Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds as a funk band just doesn’t get the job done. Don’t get me wrong – there’s all the nasty-ass, hip-grinding, sweat-soaked-but-cool-as-hell funk on their self-titled debut album that you could ever want, but there’s also so much more.First, just so’s you know who you’re dealing with here: The Dirty Birds themselves are comprised of four horns, one guitar, a bassist and drummer who obviously share a brain (or at least the groove lobe), and a harmonica player. The crazy bastards can all sing, as well – with all the soul of a choir of drunken angels.And if that wasn’t enough, out front is Sister Sparrow herself, Arleigh Kincheloe, the human equivalent of a Bose L1 P.A. system when it comes to proving that you don’t need a large object to project a big sound. The gal can do everything from belt it out like a cross between Susan Tedeschi, Janis Joplin, and Sharon Jones (“Untie My Shoelaces” or “Freight Train”) to lay-it-down-sweet, twangy, and Patsy Cline-ish (“Just My Eyes”).In the meantime, The Dirty Birds navigate every twist and turn Sister Sparrow throws their way (or is it the other way around?) with ease. Check it out: here we have some smoky big-smile reggae (“Boom Boom”, “Vices” – Blondie lives!); over here we find 70s-vintage bluesrock reminiscent of J. Geils on a hot night (Arleigh’s harp-blowing brother Jackson channels Magic Dick on “Quicksand”); and over here we find a few things that just can’t be labeled so easily (the tango-on-acid of “Baby From Space”, for instance), but are fun nonetheless. And through it all are woven threads of sexy funk. Bottom line: this album is just plain fun.Write these names down or commit them to memory: beyond the Kincheloes we’ve already mentioned, their cousin Bram mans the drums, locked together with bassist Aidan Carroll in a rhythmic cage match that’s all about the groove. Guitarist Sasha Brown can skank, smoke, slice, dice, and twang as needed. And then there are those horns: Ryan Snow (trombone), JJ Byars (alto sax), Cole Kamen-Green (trumpet), and Johnny Butler (baritone sax). These Birds lay down a sound that’s full and adventurous while never sounding crowded or overblown. That’s the thing: for a band that’s fairly young, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds play with a maturity you wouldn’t expect for a few more years.Lucky for us all, we don’t have to wait. - Brian Robbins Reviewer


Untie My Shoelaces - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

Quicksand - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

Boom Boom - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

Freight Train - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

Rock In It - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

Just My Eyes - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

Eddy - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

Baby From Space - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

Vices - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

Who Are You? - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

My House - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds

Road Trip - Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds



Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds is a nine-piece powerhouse that puts a modern spin on classic soul. The band is led by Arleigh Kincheloe (Sister Sparrow), whose astoundingly powerful voice and sly demeanor make for a spellbinding presence onstage. She is backed by the mighty force of The Dirty Birds, a flock of eight men who masterfully lay down thundering grooves and soaring melodies. While each of the Birds are capable of lighting up the stage with jaw-dropping displays of musicianship, it’s clear they’re focused on delivering the band’s infectious music as a single entity. Simply put, the band’s live show is explosive.

Dynamic singer and front-woman Sister Sparrow first began penning tunes in the alleyways and back roads between New York City and the Catskill Mountains as a teenager. Though already aided and abetted by her harmonica-shredding brother Jackson, it was clear that a large, powerful band was needed to do justice to the songs she was crafting. The brother and sister team called upon their cousin Bram, a California-bred drummer of considerable prowess, to help them assemble a super-band of epic proportions. Bram brought in childhood friends JJ Byars (alto saxophone) and Ryan Snow (trombone), and Ryan called upon baritone saxophonist and close friend Johnny Butler. Later, the addition of trumpeter Phil Rodriguez completed the unstoppable force of the virtuosic Dirty Birds’ horns. The rhythm section was filled out by tapping guitarist Sasha Brown and bassist Aidan Carroll, a tandem that proved to be the perfect engineers of the hard-driving, bare-knuckle grooves that propel this ferocious group.

It was evident from the start that the deep friendships among its members translated directly to the music they made together. While Sister Sparrow is the principal songwriter and unifying voice of the band, the Dirty Birds work collaboratively on arrangements. The result is musical creativity and diversity seldom seen in groups of this size and character. By the middle of 2009, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds had packed New York’s legendary Rockwood Music Hall every Saturday night, holding down a five-month-long residency that built them a reputation for being one of the funkiest, tightest groups in the city. Fueled by the band’s boundless energy, every show turned into a wild dance party, and the Dirty Birds established a rabid following of fans eager to receive a potent dose of good times, delivered by the band night after night.

Within six months of their November 2010 debut release on Modern Vintage Recordings, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds had opened for the Black Keys, the Neville Brothers, Dr. John, the Rebirth Brass Band, and the Soul Rebels Brass Band, among others. Through appearances at such festivals as moe.down, Strange Creek, Camp Jam, Sterling Stage, and late-night at New Orleans JazzFest, they continued to gain wider acclaim. In the spring of 2011, they embarked on an extensive national tour that continues through year’s end and includes performances at Gathering of the Vibes and Bear Creek.

Sister Sparrow’s commanding stage presence alone is more than enough to dazzle audiences, but the magic doesn’t end with her: the band’s palpable camaraderie, undeniable talent and passion for music makes for a contagious combination that is taking the country by storm. Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds’ blend of seductive soul and dirty blues-rock reminds audiences why they love live music.