Interview: NWMS chats with Sister Sparrow

Photo Courtesy of Shervin Lainez

Sister Sparrow, the singer sometimes known as Arleigh Kincheloe, grew up singing (see below) and started Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds about ten years back, focusing on full-throated soul.  The new album Gold, credited to just Sister Sparrow (but with the Dirty Birds), came out last fall, and she’s bringing the crew to the Tractor on Tuesday, March 12She was kind enough to take some queries.

UPDATE: Click HERE to view photos from the Tractor Tavern show.


NWMS:  Have you played Seattle before?  If so, which venues, tours, years, and favorite stories?

Sister Sparrow:  Yes, many times! We’ve played the Tractor Tavern, Neumos, Triple Door, and Nectar Lounge. We usually try to make it to Seattle at least once a year since 2012. We also recorded our 3rd record, The Weather Below, at Bear Creek Studios outside of Seattle in 2013. 

NWMS:  What are your most indelible memories from touring?

Sister Sparrow:  There was a fire onstage during soundcheck in Helena, Montana once! We somehow still made the show happen even though the whole place was covered in fire extinguisher dust. Pretty sure it was caused by a ghost, that place is definitely haunted! 

NWMS:  Where did you grow up and what are your most crucial memories of growing up?

Sister Sparrow:  I grew up in the Catskill Mountains in New York. I’m the youngest of 4 siblings so growing up we got into a lot of mischief, running around the woods and making music together. My parents were always in bands together so there was always music around. 

NWMS:  Where do you live now, and what’s good and bad about the music scene where you live?

Sister Sparrow:  I live in the Hudson Valley area of NY. We moved here recently from Brooklyn, so the music scene is very different than what I’m used to. But I love the small town vibe here and I’m closer to my brother so making music is easier. 


NWMS:  What music made you want to make music, growing up?  Which bands, albums, songs, and concerts were most important, and why?

Sister Sparrow:  I’d say my parents had the biggest influence on me wanting to make music. I grew up singing with their band and watching them play. I also learned a lot from Bonnie Raitt and Aretha Franklin. My first concert ever was Tom Petty, who was also a major influence on me. 

NWMS:  How did you get into performing music?  What was your first band, and where did they play?

Sister Sparrow:  As I said, I grew up playing with my parents, so that really helped me have the confidence to go out on my own. Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds is really my first band. My brother and I played together a lot before the band was together but we never really played out. 

NWMS:  Who are the band members?

Sister Sparrow: Jackson Kincheloe – harmonica and lap steel, Phil Rodriguez – Trumpet, Brian Graham – Saxophone, Josh Myers – Bass, Nat Osborn – Keys, Dan Boyden – Drums, Andy Stack – Guitar.

NWMS:  How do the albums compare and contrast with each other?

Sister Sparrow:  They’re all very different but I’d say my latest record, Gold has taken the farthest leaps forward. I did it as more of a solo effort with a producer, but the guys still played on it. I wanted to do something a little more produced and less “live” sounding. 

NWMS:  Where did you record your new album and who produced it?  How did the sessions go?

Sister Sparrow:  We recorded Gold at Doom Studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn over about 6 months. I had just had my son, so I could only work a few hours here and there. Carter Matschullat was my producer and collaborator. We wrote a lot of the songs together as well. It was such a fun experience, I loved making this record. 

NWMS:  What are the band’s plans for the future?  

Sister Sparrow:  We’re touring through this year and hitting a lot of festivals. After that, we’ll probably be thinking about the next record, but for now, we’re just excited to get back on the road. 


Check out photos from the Tractor Tavern show HERE.

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Andrew Hamlin

Andrew Hamlin likes to photograph shoes and write about dog shit. He was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, where he resides today. He attended the Evergreen State College, where he wrote and edited arts coverage for the Cooper Point Journal. He is the film critic for the Northwest Asian Weekly, and he’s published arts coverage and criticism in the San Diego Reader, Village Voice, Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, Goldmine, and other publications. He misses Helen Wiggin. Hamlin’s website is https://andrewhamlin.org.