Deep Ellum, heart of the Dallas Music scene has much to offer in the department of bolstering musical acts in intimate venues. One such event took place at the Prophet Bar in Deep Ellum on 6/27/13; New York-based Rhythm and Blues band, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds opened the show, and was followed by NOLA’s Funk-Rock Band, the Revivalists.
A hell of a show, at a little hole in the wall (Prophet Bar is literally just a single bar, in a long open room, with a stage in the back). I figured this would be an opportunity to provide my Live Music DFW fans, a little behind the scene look at that performance.
Being the proactive, music journalist that I am, I got a chance to sit down with Sister Sparrow and her Dirty Birds, and chat about their pride and joy; the music they make! SSDB is an 8-piece band, who was sharing a small green room that night with the 7-piece Revivalists. The green room was crowded, the venue was crowded, but the music was bumping! Needless to say, the interview took place in the hallway, giving it just the informal feel I was looking for. Sister Sparrow (Arleigh Kincheloe) did most of the talking:
SW- So ya'll have been together since 2008, but didn't really get touring until later in 2011. Between the time of the band's conception, and the point when you started touring, you held a 5 month residency at New York's Rockwood Music Hall. Tell us about that experience.
SSDB- It was this little club on the lower east side, actually pretty much where we had our first show ever the day before thanksgiving in 2008...They asked us to do a residency so we did like 1am on Saturday nights or something for a while, a couple of months, then they said, “we’re going to give you a better spot.” We moved down to like 10 or 11 which is kind of prime-time in that whole scene. And we kind of cut our teeth there. We didn’t play a lot of venues, because it was once a week and we were just hashing it out, learning to play together…. Those were the old days….many miles ago.
SW- Please tell us what it was like to be a "house" band and how that contributed to the band you are now.
SSDB- It’s kind of old school, you know? That’s how those guys back in the day would play…they’d be a house band and that’s how you’d get better, how you get comfortable with each other. I mean, if we were only playing once a month, we would not be where we are now…it would be shit music and we would just be band-mates. We go out after the shows, do house parties after the show and you’re like “we know each other onstage, but we become good friends and just party together”. That also helped in making us stronger.
SW- So this seems to be a family gig, at what point did you decide ya'll needed to get together and make this band happen? What prompted your sibling(cousin/friend) collaboration?
SSDB- Arleigh: It’s sort of the family business. Our fathers (Bram and Arleigh/Jackson’s) are identical twin brothers and they, you know since high school has been playing in bands together. So we would end up hearing all of these old war stories and that family vibe.
Bram: we actually didn’t grow up together, when they were kids, they moved to the Catskill mountains. I grew up in California where our dads had been living we didn’t really start hangin’ out until we were already like 15 or 16. I moved to New York and started to go to go on stage a lot
Arleigh: I’d been writing songs for a while and...we’d be banging on the piano, Jackson would be playing harmonica, and we just decided we should get the band together!
SW- Each of you seem to be very talented musicians all on your own, but your band seems to put more emphasis on the combined sound of all the members. What geared this style choice, instead of alternating musical showmanship with intricate solos?
SSDB- Arleigh: I think it was really just an unconscious evolution, the way we just played together, you know. Finding that sound though, it took some time. There wasn’t so much of “let’s do it this way this time, let’s just jam man!” It kinda came out that way.
Jackson: She had all these great songs that she brought…she’d write them, almost to completion with a melody and lyrics and then bring them to us. Being such a large band, you have to write the music for the band, not so much feature individuals. You know you find this feature fits here…there is also a pretty amazing level of musicianship to be able at certain times to decide to go there for a second, but then to come back to the song. We’re polished, because we play a lot of shows”.
SW- 2012 was your breakout year playing with some huge names including Gov't Mule, The Avett Brothers, Counting Crows, Trombone Shorty, JJ Grey & Mofro, the Rebirth Brass Band, and a three week run with Allen Stone that culminated in an Austin City Limits late night set....who was your favorite band to perform with?
SSDB- Allen, and JJ Grey & Mofro, they were a lot of fun. Gov’t Mule was amazing…we opened for them a couple of times, and Warren Haynes came and played with us.
SW - You recently recorded an EP with the famed Randy Jackson, bassist, music producer, and American Idol judge. Can you tell us a little about that experience?
SSDB- It was very surreal…I think we all didn’t really know what to expect and we hadn’t done it…I mean he’s huge. We were a little intimidated of course. You would go in there, and Randy was the chilliest dude on the planet. He sets the tone for everybody, and all of us are like okay, we can relax. He is so mellow! So it was really just such a pleasant experience all around and really eye-opening and educational. I feel like I learned a lot, about how to just relax and play the music instead of stress out. Recording can be really stressful. I feel like it almost always is, and he made it really just easy. We spent three days recording this EP with him. We don’t have a specific release date, but Fall sometime…post-production takes so long.
SW - So have you been to Texas before, and do you have plans to return to Dallas/Fort Worth?
SSDB- We’ve played Trees in Deep Ellum, and Lola’s in Ft. Worth...it’s great, We’d absolutely come back!
Arleigh Kincheloe - Vocals
Jackson Kincheloe - Harmonica
Bram Kincheloe - Drums
Sasha Brown - Guitar
Josh Meyers - Bass
Phil Rodriguez - Trumpet
Ryan Snow - Trombone
Brian Graham - Bari Sax
Thanks so much to Arleigh, Jackson, and the rest of the crew for an excellent show in D town, and this interview! Keep an eye out for their new EP, and definitely see them when you get a chance. They put on an awesome show, very high energy Blues-Brothers Dynamic (Except in this case Blues Siblings!) Continue to follow the blog, and keep on jammin’ my friends!