Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds are the type of band that simply needs to exist. Modernity is great, and watching the democratization of music creation through technology is fascinating, but the old-school aesthetic of classic blues sounds reminds us of the almost primal physical desire to just shake it. Brooklyn classicists Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds put on shows that makes you feel good, and their method is straightforward. The band’s front-woman Arleigh Kincheloe takes stage and slyly blooms into a giant bulb of energy that, coupled with her power-grabbing vocals, turns audiences into a mass of unfettered gyration.
Their latest EP Fight, takes the dance-heavy sounds that characterized their early releases to an even more polished and fully-realized level. We talked to the band, who are on tour now, about their influences and song writing process.
Mystery Haza: What sort of influences do you draw from?
Sister Sparrow: I’m very influenced by my parents musically – my mom’s a singer and dad’s a drummer. They met while playing music together and were in bands all through my childhood. Growing up in that environment is definitely the reason I do what I do. Aside from the music my parents were making, I listened to a lot of Bonnie Raitt, The Band, Little Feat, Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin, among others.
MH: How does the soul sound you guys are so good at translate into the Brooklyn scene?
SS: The Brooklyn music scene is so diverse, but soul and funk have certainly made a comeback in the last few years. It can be a hard place to make an impression though, since there are just so many damn musicians living in NY. At the end of the day, though, the New York music community is really supportive and strong. We end up running into Brooklyn musicians/friends more out on the road in random parts of the country than when we’re home – it’s funny but that’s the life we live now since we’re always on tour. There is a big contingency of NY soul rockers out here representing Brooklyn to the rest of America. It makes me feel proud and grateful to have come up in that scene.
MH: What goes into your songwriting process?
SS: Writing a song can be incredibly frustrating and simultaneously uniquely rewarding. When I get inspired to write something, usually it shoots out of my brain like a canon – all at once and messy and loud.
MH: How important do you think classic live performance is in today’s tech-heavy landscape?
SS: I think people will always value the rawness of a live musical performance. Being up there and laying it all out on the table is a very vulnerable place to be. I think people crave the experience of accessing an artist like that. We’re human, we make mistakes. I sing my songs differently every night. I take risks. I love seeing a performer do that. There’s nothing like it. It can be just as exhilarating to watch as it is to do. Because of that, I have complete faith in the lifespan of “classic” performances. The tradition and legacy of rock and roll can never be silenced by technology.
On Friday Nov. 8th at 7pm, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds play a 21+ show at The Rex Theater. The band is joined by Pittsburgh-local Cait Cueno, whose jazz-infused compositions have the same dance-inspiring rhythms as Sister Sparrow except instead of a stomp, Cueno elicits a sway, using smooth melodies that glide across jazz instrumentals with a cool temper. Cueno’s Violet EP was released last year on Itunes and she is currently touring the East Coast.
Tickets to the sure-to-be raucous performance are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.