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 recently 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 1950’s 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.
Having recently opened for the Rebirth Brass Band and Rumblebucket, we had the chance to chat with Kincheloe, just in time for its big supporting for Dr. John at the 5th Annual NolaFunk Mardi Gras Ball at NYC’s Le Poisson Rouge on March 5th.
I’ve really been digging your debut cd and heard that you guys are going to be opening for Dr. John on Mardi Gras in New York! Seems like quite the honor, how did the show come together?
We are SO excited about this show! It is an honor to be paired with one of New Orleans’ greatest musicians. I can’t help but feel lucky, but at the same time, we’ve been in the trenches paying our dues here in New York. Fortunately our hustle (and I’m thinking our music!) has led to various opportunities, this being chief among them.
There seems to be an interesting mix of ages in the band with some veteran road warriors, family and some younger guys. And of course with you being the only female and the front woman. Tell me about how the band came together and how you all go about writing your music. Whats it like playing with your brothers?
I’ve always wanted to lead a big band. With the help of my brother Jackson and cousin Bram, we brought together our favorite musicians from various outlets (high school, college, the NYC music scene). The mix of personalities worked instantly. I write the songs and present them to the boys with a very open mind. We all arrange them together, so everyone gives their 2 cents. By the way, don’t age any of my boys prematurely. The word "veteran" might be a bit of an over statement. We’re all still in our young to mid 20s, ya know.
I love that the cd was supposedly recorded in one night in the studio. I wanna hear about that night!
That night was insane. A 12 hour rager. We played each song 2 or 3 times and moved on. None of us imagined that we’d accomplish so much in one sitting, but we were on a roll. 12 songs. It was an amazing thing to be a part of.
What are your summer plans? Any plans to bring the show out west?
We’re working on the west coast thing, but nothing locked down as of yet. For the summer, we’ll be a part of a whole bunch of festivals and our manager and agent are hard at work booking a summer tour around those festival dates. Our fans can stay tuned to our website for further details.
My two favorite tracks on the album are two of the slower ones -"Rock in It" and "Just My Eyes" -they are simply incredible and offer a bit of soul and country into your sound. Can you talk about those two songs a bit?
Why thank you! Glad you like ’em. I wrote "Rock In It" in the living room of my parents’ house in the Catskills in 2007. "Just My Eyes" came to me while I was stuck in traffic on my way home from a solo trip to Maine. Both songs just sort of came out of the sky and into my head.
Who is Sister Sparrow and what’s up with her birds being so dirty?
Who is Sister Sparrow? Hmm… I’d have to say that I am Sister Sparrow and I only associate with men of distinguished character and unmistakable musical filth. But what is Sister Sparrow? Sister Sparrow is one part soul, one part funk, one part rock and a whole lotta dirt.
We’re not selling the who or the why, though, mostly because we don’t know where it comes from, and we don’t want to have to pay import taxes.