Summer Camp Music Festival Artist Spotlight — Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds


One of the bands that I am very eager to see again is Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds.  I love a band that puts on a good stage show and I feel like they put on one of the best.

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My very first artist interviews happened at Phases of the Moon. I remember being so nervous and feeling like a fish out of water. I was welcomed and greeted by the bands that I spoke with and some of them made me feel so welcome. One of those artists was Arleigh Kincheloe from Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. Her soulful vocals are truly something that you should be sure to catch this year at Summer Camp 2016. I am so excited that she is going to be there and I, for one, am going to be headed to wherever she is at as I can’t imagine missing her set.


Photo was taken from the band’s website.  Credit to photographer Joshua Timmermans.

Sitting down with Arleigh Kincheloe was like sitting with my long lost college roommate and catching up. Her friendly demeanor and instantly fun personality took over and I had a great time getting to know her. I recently pulled this interview from Phases of the Moon from the blog so that I could run it again and share with you all a little bit about her passions and her inspirations. In all of my time of doing interviews, there have only been two times where I have ever felt this at ease and Arleigh made me feel so welcome….like I was really a friend that she just was catching up with and hadn’t seen in a while.
What is it that you hope that your music invokes in people?

“I actually think about that a lot. I started singing when I was really little kid. I was like nine. I think one of the reasons that I fell in love with it was become of the responses and reactions. I could see what it did to other people and I was like oh I can do something that makes other people happy in some small way. Even in the body language or the facial expressions watching someone perk up. As a small child that was probably something that I really loved, although I couldn’t articulate that until now. I get a lot of joy out of it and obviously that’s what I want. I want people to feel that through me and have similar experiences. That’s one of the main reasons that I do it. I don’t know what other artists would say that their motivation is but that’s huge.”

Where does your passion come from?

“Sometimes I don’t know. It feels like a very deep seeded natural organic thing that just sort of flows out. I think that when you are doing something that you love sometimes it is hard to explain why. I guess it feels like home a lot. Being up there I feel very comfortable. I have been doing it for most of my life so it brings me to a simpler time when there wasn’t all of this other stuff going on. You just get up there and sing. You are just in the moment where you are free simple and full of pure joy.”

When you were little and performing, what types of places did you perform at?

“Well my parents were in a band. They had a bluesy rocky funky cover band. They were just playing like Stones songs and The Band…that kind of stuff. They would play in dive bars or in weddings. So, I definitely remember being in a really shady Red Roof Inn bar when I was like twelve. That is one of the memories that I have very clearly. Of course, you could smoke back then so they were like she’s our daughter. She is allowed to come in the bar. I don’t know how that’s possible, but I guess it was different times back then. It was a lot of weird stuff that actually prepared me for what I do now. We do a lot of weird bars. Sometimes you even wonder should I even be in here?. It’s a fun experience to just sit and think back on. Like, what were my parents thinking.”

Do your parents still come and see you a lot now?

“Yeah, my dad’s band has opened for us. It was really cute. It was in our hometown in upstate New York. He still plays some percussion and stuff. And my mom lives in the city so she comes to all of our New York shows.”

Do you play in New York a lot?

“Not really any more. We used to but now days it’s like every three or four months because we are just touring all of the time.”

What do you hope to do in the future?

“I guess in a broad way I just want to keep doing this. I love touring. I really do. So, I want to make sure that it’s always a part of what we do.”

How many shows do you do a year on average?

“We average around 150. With booking 150 dates and travel days, we are out for over 200. We’re not home very often but when we are out we try to have a comfortable pace. Otherwise we just get so burned out. And of course we are traveling in a van and van touring is a lot more wear and tear on your body. You’re in a van all day and you have to stop and sleep in a hotel. We have a nice van too and I guess I’m lucky because I can sleep in a van since I’m itty bitty but the boys have a hard time.”

“I see bands like, a lot of bands playing this festival….watching Tedeschi Trucks because they are like my favorite band. I love them so much! And that’s kind of been an inspiration. I want to get to a point where we are on the same path that they are now. Obviously it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of years. I see how much work they put into it and their whole lives, just earning that place. They’re so deserving.”

We talked a little bit about Derek Trucks and my own husband seeing him in the parking lot of a Phish show with a little cardboard sign that had his name written on it in permanent marker.

“I saw him when he was really young. I was still in high school and he’s not much older than me….he’s what 35. He must have been in his early twenties. That’s crazy! And he was phenomenal and I was like who is this kid?!?. “

Do you go to a lot of their shows whenever you can catch them?

“Yeah, we’ve had the pleasure to share festival stages. This year, I think that this is our third, no maybe fourth time. It is so great because then you get to hang out. It is so nice to just be able to hear them, let alone to be able to tell them how much you enjoy their show. I was so intimidated at first with introducing myself. I was so scared and she was immediately so sweet and so chill and made me feel so comfortable. It was really heartwarming to know that people are good, even if they are that talented…they’re still just people.”

Who are your musical influences?

“I grew up listening to a ton of Bonnie Raitt, EmmyLou Harris, Little Feat, The Band….that kind of stuff. In my parents house growing up with that it’s kind of eclectic…weekends it would be classical music. Then my mom is into Graham Parsons and Patsy Klein, more old country music and my dad was more into the Grateful Dead. I got a good range of Americana. As I got older and was on my own, I got more into soul. I listened to a lot of Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Stevie Wonder. The roots are in the stuff that my parents listened to and I still find myself listening to that type of music more now. I have been through the gamet as to what type of musical tastes I might have acquired. At the end of the day, it’s like no just give me some Bonnie and I will be cool.”

So, what type of stuff do you listen to?

“As I said Tedeschi Trucks right now…I’m obsessed with them. The last couple of years I haven’t been able to really stop listening to them. The Wood Brothers for me right now…love them. I mean, I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long time. I try to branch out. I’m one of the worst people about new music and I have a hard time finding it or listening to it. I don’t actually listen to a lot of radio. I try to branch out but the boys always make fun of me. I’m such a creature of habit. I just want to listen to the albums that I love….like that you can sing along to. Especially when I’m driving, I want to have my records on.”

What do you not prefer to listen to?

“I guess it comes down to being able to sing along to it. So for me if it’s really far out there experimental jazz stuff…like free jazz; I have a hard time really digging my heels into that. I can listen to it and appreciate it but I’m not like wooo. But some of the guys, it really gets them going and it’s a very different palette than what I came from. I listened to a lot of hip hop growing up because my older sister was really into Biggie. Then my brother got into Emenem so there is a whole different side as well. That comes out sometimes when I’m singing and I have a little bit of a percussive way. Sometimes I will be a little rappy when I do the lines. It probably comes from being in high school and listening to TuPac.”

What are dream stages? If you could play anywhere in the world, where would you want to play?

“I’m looking forward to the day that I can go to, let alone play, the Red Rocks. I’ve never even gone there. I just hear that it is supposed to be such a phenomenon. For some reason the Hollywood Bowl is in my head as one of those places. I feel like I’ve had a lot of really amazing opportunities to play a lot of really amazing stages. We played at the Beacon with Gov’t Mule…two New Year’s Eves ago. And that was one of those is this really happening moments. I try to take it all with a grain of salt. Every one accomplishment that you have is going to be backed up with like seven disappointments. So you just have to keep the wheel spinning.”

It was so refreshing to hear an artist talk about being a fan and to talk with her about her goals and aspirations.  She truly is a one of a kind performer but she’s an even more amazing person and one that I hope to catch up with a bit this year at Summer Camp.