Review by Katy Trosch | Photos by Camille Germain
When I entered the Tractor Tavern on Tuesday night to see Sister Sparrow, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never seen the band live and I’d never been to the venue, so I was excited for new experiences all around. My excitement was not in vain, as both Sister Sparrow and the opening band, Erin Rae and the Heartbeets, delivered an incredible evening of pure musical power.
I sat down with Arleigh Kincheloe, the powerhouse frontwoman for Sister Sparrow, briefly before she took the stage to ask her a bit about her music. She was very kind and soft spoken as she told me about touring for her latest album Gold, which was released this past October. Kincheloe had taken a brief touring hiatus after the birth of her son and expressed her excitement for being back on tour. She’s glad to bring her new music to the stage with the help of her backing band, The Dirty Birds. Kincheloe feels that her new music is different from what they’ve done in the past, saying “it was a bit of a challenge for us, but it’s been super fun to do since it’s a little different”. When asked about her band’s genre and style, she smiled and said, “at its core, it’s soul music”. This is something that became abundantly clear when I watched the band perform.
The show opened with a stellar performance from Seattle local, Erin Rae and the Heartbeets, who set the stage for the headlining act with amazing energy. They interacted with the audience throughout their set, making everyone feel like they were a part of the show. Erin Rae Murray’s beautiful vocals were accompanied by upbeat funky music, complete with a band member’s incredible, highly realistic mouth trumpet sounds. They were a pleasure to watch and did an excellent job warming the stage for the main event.
When Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds finally took the stage, the energy in the room instantly dialed up. Arleigh’s entrance was met with uproarious applause, and it was hard not to join in with the cheering when she began to sing. Her backup band, The Dirty Birds, are made up of seven other musicians, including Arleigh’s brother, Jackson Kincheloe who plays harmonica and lapsteel, and they have a huge, well rounded, soulful sound. However, her vocals alone have the ability to carry the entire band. Arleigh has a huge voice for such a small woman, and effortlessly belted high notes that rang out clearly through the entire venue, and probably down the block. Her voice reminded me of the likes of Janis Joplin and Susan Tedeschi, powerful, expressive, and gritty.
You could easily tell that this band was having the time of their lives onstage. They maintained their high energy throughout the entire set, and it was obvious that they loved playing with each other in the way that they provided support and excitement for each musician that took a solo or was the driving force behind a song. Their use of choreographed knee bends and steps throughout the show made me smile, and I could not help but dance. Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds were just having a good time doing what they love, and that alone made me love watching them. At the end of the day, Arleigh says that the band’s fans are their driving force. “We’re doing this [for our fans],” she said, “we owe everything to them.”
I left Tractor Tavern all smiles. I can’t wait until Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds are back in Seattle so that I can see them again.