The Soul Behind Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds

Copyright Dave Nakamura 2012

Copyright Dave Nakamura 2012

With a soulful sound straight from the heart, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds are a powerful force to be reckoned with. After a stellar performance at Electric Forest 2014, I was able to meet up with lead vocalist Arleigh Kincheloe and ask her some questions.

MOJO: How is traveling with a seven-piece band?

ARLEIGH: Well, it’s pretty crazy. It has its own challenges, but it has its own merits and rewards because we’re such a big group and we’re all so tight knit. We’re like a party on wheels. (laughs)

CopyRight Renee Ramge

CopyRight Renee Ramge

 MOJO: Your sound is on point and I really dig it. During your set I heard a song that combined Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” with Led Zepplin’s “Rock And Roll”. How did the group go about composing that?

ARLEIGH: Thank you! Everything that we do is really pretty collaborative. I write all the songs, but we arrange them together. So I’ll bring songs in with what I want it to sound like, but we’ll work it out and make it sound dirty or whatever.

That actually happed because we did a cover show. We had our fans vote on an album they wanted to hear us play cover-to-cover. We gave the fans a list of 10 albums and they choose Led Zeppelin IV, which was great. By a landslide, that’s what our fans wanted to hear us play so we learned all those songs.

“Rock n’ Roll” was on there and we were like, “What can we do to make it different?” It came together when were all in a room rehearsing. We really don’t do too many cover songs, but it’s nice to do something different with it. You know – surprise people with it.


MOJO: Do you consider yourself a Led Zeppelin fan?

ARLEIGH: I mean, yeah.  Who isn’t, really? (laughs) I grew up listening to them. Houses of the Holy was one of the first CDs I ever bought myself.

MOJO: On that note, where do you draw inspiration and creativity from?

ARLEIGH: I grew up listening to a lot of… well, my parents listed to a lot of Boni Ray, Little Feat and The Band – that kind of stuff. My parents were also musicians, so they would play on the side for fun or on the weekends. I grew up playing with their band and they played a lot of that sort of old rock and roll, Americana, blues as wall as some funk and soul. I can say that my parents certainly inspired my musical taste a lot.

As far as song writing, I guess my inspiration comes from all over. Recently I wrote a couple songs for my family. I’m the youngest of four so I have a lot of siblings. Family is really important to me. My brother and cousin are both in the band, so were trying to keep it going.


MOJO: Over time the band has played many, many shows. Am I wrong to assume that you’ve witnessed your fair share of odd concert shenanigans? What’s the weirdest or most outlandish thing that has occurred?

ARLEIGH: (laughs) Yes, some weird stuff has definitely happened to us. I’d say the craziest thing that ever happened was while we were we were playing this festival in Johnstown, PA called Flood City Music Fest. It was a great festival. We were playing a cover of The Doors song “Road House Blues.” My brother was playing this awesome harmonic solo and then this crazy woman took her shirt off in front of everybody – and it wasn’t even that kind of festival! She was screaming and throwing beer and then all of a sudden she disappeared. Then she’s on stage with us and she starts bear-hugging Jackson, my brother, from behind while he’s soloing. It was the craziest thing!

To connect with the band, check out Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds’ website and listen their Latest EP Fight.

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