by Erinn Fortson
Winters in Pennsylvania can be a bit depressing. Days like this make me want to hide underneath the covers and sleep until the sun comes out. I imagine that Los Angeles will be experiencing much better weather as I prepare to speak with Arleigh Kincheloe. The singer is spending time in Southern California with her sister as their family prepares for the upcoming holidays. Unfortunately, the forecast isn’t much brighter for Kincheloe as she describes her West Coast Sunday afternoon as a gloomy one.
As the front woman for Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, Kincheloe doesn’t get much of an opportunity to take time off. Between releasing their second album, making music videos, and touring, it has been a very demanding year for the band. The group will be ending the last few days of 2012 by opening for Gov’t Mule at Philadelphia’s Tower Theater this Saturday, and again on December 30th at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Before these two performances, however, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds managed to sneak in a break.
Kincheloe is enjoying her mini vacation. She plans to spend some of her free time in the Catskill Mountains, which is where she was raised as a child. “With the band, we travel so much. So, we’re really just all over the country”, says Kincheloe. “But when I can, I go to the Catskills and see my dad. He’s still in the same house that we grew up in.”
Kincheloe credits both her parents for developing her musical background and career. With mom and dad both being musicians themselves, this atmosphere was presented to her at a very early age. “I owe it all to them”, says Kincheloe. :If they hadn’t exposed me to so much music at such a young age, I wouldn’t necessarily do what I do now. I remember being nine and thinking to myself, this is what I’m supposed to being doing with my life.”
At 18, Kincheloe found herself living in New York City, performing her own songs alongside brother, Jackson. Within the next few years between traveling and writing new material, the Kincheloes found the rest of the Dirty Birds, recruiting the remaining seven members of the band. “Those early days playing in Manhattan are what built everything up for us as a band”, says Kincheloe. “Those fans we made within the first two years of us being together still come out to watch us perform when we go back to New York now. Those people are still around and it’s wonderful to see that and have them follow us throughout the years.”
In 2010, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds recorded their self-titled debut album on Montage Vintage Records. The record was produced in a short time, as the group recorded its tracks in only one session. “That’s one of the major differences between the first album and Pound of Dirt,” says Kincheloe. “The first album was much more a live recording. We took more time with the second album. Pound of Dirt was done within two to three months. We had more time to explore other sounds and ideas and add more depth to the songs.”
Stretching production time on Pound of Dirt certainly proved successful for the band. The group’s second album does their talent much more justice. Listeners can easily pick up the wide range of musicianship that makes Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds such a great band. The title track “Make It Rain” hits hard, as Kincheloe’s sultry, soulful voice electrifies the entire song from start to finish. The boys don’t do so bad themselves on this track with Jackson Kincheloe flawlessly shredding notes on his harmonica like it was on fire. Phil Rodriguez and Ryan Snow do the brass section proud as the sound from their horns just make you want to dance. “Horse to Water” is a slower song on “Pound of Dirt”. Its tempo makes it no less compelling than any other track on the record, giving the song the pungency and punch that makes it so intensely wonderful.
After the holidays have concluded, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds will resume their busy schedule. January 24th of next year will once again pick up the band’s East Coast tour, beginning with a show in Fairfield, Connecticut. The group recently added more dates to this series of performances and is scheduled to play their last show at the end of February. “I really like touring and traveling in general,” Kincheloe says. “A lot of people might get tired of that day in and day out. And I’m sure if you ask me in six years my opinion might change. But, it still feels kind of special to me.”