Live Concert Photography: Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds with The Rad Trads and The U.S. Americans at Irving Plaza 12/1/18
Currently comprised of siblings Arleigh (vocals) and Jackson Kincheloe (harmonica), along with Josh Myers (bass), Dan Boyden (drums), Phil Rodriguez (trumpet) Brian Graham (baritone and tenor sax), Nat Osborn (keys) and Mark Marshall (guitar), the Brooklyn-based soul/rock septet Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds can trace their origins back to when Arleigh sang in her parents’ band when she was nine; in fact, by the time she turned 18, Arleigh Kincheloe was a seasoned professional, who began writing her own original material — material that would eventually become some of the earliest Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds tunes. Although Kincheloe’s brother, Jackson joined her in those very early days, Arleigh quickly realized that she needed a large backing band to do justice to the material she had been writing.
Rooted around both family and lifelong friendships, the band formed in 2008. It was quickly made evident that the deep connections they shared translated to the sound and feel of their music — and while Arleigh Kincheloe is the principal songwriter, the entire band has always worked in a collaborative fashion on arrangements. A year after their formation, the members of the Brooklyn-based act had a popular weekly Saturday weekly residency at Rockwood Music Hall that helped them develop a reputation for being one of the city’s funkiest and tightest acts over its five month run. Building upon that, the members of the band recorded their self-titled 2010 full-length debut during a single 12 hour session at Avatar Studios. The album wound up on a number of Best of Lists that year, including All About Jazz’s Non-Jazz Favorites with Independent Media Magazine awarding the album “Best Album You Probably Didn’t Hear in 2010” in its 2010 IMM Music Awards.
Since 2011, the band has developed a reputation for being relentless road warriors, playing more than 150 shows a year across the US and Canada, including early opening slots for the likes of Dr. John, JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings and the Soul Rebels Brass Band — and they’ve played a number of festivals across the country’s festival circuit, including Bonnaroo, Firefly, Mountain Jam, Bear Creek, Telluride Jazz Festival, High Sierra Festival, Harvest Jazz Festival, Austin City Limits and New Orleans Jazz Festival. They’ve released three more full-length studio albums 2012’s sophomore effort Pound of Dirt, 2016’s Ryan Hadlock-produced The Weather Below and last year’s Gold; 2013’s Randy Jackson-produced Fight EP; and 2016’s live album Fowl Play, which was recorded at Fairfield, CT‘s The Warehouse.
The Brooklyn-Based soul/rock septet’s headlining Irving Plaza show back in December was a triumphant, career spanning set that primarily focused on the material of Gold. Two local acts opened — The Rad Trads and The U.S. Americans. Check out photos from the show below.
Comprised of twin brothers John (drums, vocals) and Michael Fatum (trumpet, vocals), along with “Big Red” Mike Harlen (bass, vocals), Alden Harris-McCoy (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Sergeant (saxophones, keys, vocals), the Brooklyn-based act The Rad Trads can trace their origins to when its members met at NYU as conservatory-trained musicians looking to play with New York’s best musicians. When they initially started the band, they were just a bunch of buddies, looking to play local bars and drink for free. They initially started off with a bastardized jazz repertoire that they modified on stage into whatever seemed to get the crowd moving, eventually developing into their unique take on rock that draw from punk rock, horn-led soul and jazz — delivered with a lighthearted and sincere delivery. Interestingly, each of the band’s five members share vocal and songwriting duties, although they never really planned on it.
Although they could have been simply pegged as a party band, the band’s booking agent realized that there may be a nice within the jazz festival scene for the Brooklyn-based quintet — and as it turns out, jazz festivals always need a fun band for the late night parties. That initial trip turned into touring across four continents, 15 countries and 41 states, with upcoming dates in China. Adding to a growing profile, the band has played with Lake Street Dive, JOVM mainstay Charles Bradley, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, The Lone Bellow among others.
Since the release of last year’s On Tap, The Rad Trads have been touring to support it — with more dates throughout this year.
According to the The U.S. Americans, currently comprised of Jeff Weiss, Roy Abraham, Matthew Lewin and Ray Mazza their heroes, peers and fans describe their sound as “David Bowie in a gang bang with Dr. Seuss and Iron Maiden,” and as a tip-toeing of “the Venn diagram of analog rock in the digital age. Admittedly, I missed a part of their set because of the MTA has been predictably awful over the past two years or so — and I had to go through security at the venue; so the pictures of this set were shot from the crowd. It could be worse though.