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Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds make it a family affair

The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA, June 21, 2014

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds may appear to be a family affair. After all, the lead singer and harp player are sister/brother. The drummer is a cousin. And if the Brooklyn-based band's latest foray into the Boston area had a hometown feel about it, there was good reason. Two other members grew up in the area.

The homecoming idea may have been appropriate because if they keep putting on shows like this, Boston, which the band visits with some regularity, will become a home away from home.

Lead singer Arleigh Kincheloe is one powerhouse as the front person. The lithe singer had a voice that belies her appearance as she took control in song after song - most all of which she wrote - with Kincheloe putting her stamp of ownership on just about each and every one of them. The concert featured songs from all three of the group's releases along with about five unrecorded songs.

Kincheloe turned in one of those performances where it was not required that she do a lot of talking to engage the crowd. She bounced and bounded about the stage with an endless supply of energy and charisma. No surprise really because the style of the songs lent themselves to that. She talked enough, but her delivery and presence were so powerful that less talking was just fine.

There is a lot more to like about the group than only its lead singer. All six band members had a big say in making the night the joyful success it proved to be. Brother Jackson Kincheloe blew away on harp, giving a most soulful vibe. Drummer Bram Kincheloe, a cousin, provided a muscular steady beat, propelling the music along.

Guitarist Sasha Brown knew his way around both soul and funk with a lot of stinging guitar leads, and bassist Josh Myers was in step with providing funky bass lines as well. A two-man horn section of baritone sax player Brian Graham and Phil Rodriguez on horns completed the band, offering a plethora of good blows as well. Myers and Brown both grew up in the Boston area and had hometown fans out in force.

In a bit of a departure, the group ended the regular set with a worthy cover of Led Zep's "Rock and Roll." The song was a bit of a departure from what Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds had delved into for most of the 91-minute show, but they manhandled that song as well.

In another change, the band changed it up one final time, going a capella and slowing down the soulful "Road Trip" with the group chanting "the times are early" and the enthusiastic crowd clapping along.

Keeping such a high octane performance going from start to finish was more than a case of doing it for a home away from home. For at least night, everyone from band to audience felt a part of the Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds family.

Local band the Ross Livermore Band preceded the headliners with a complimentary set of soulful material with the keyboards particularly prominent. The band did a good job in setting the stage for the headliners.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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