Sister Sparrow and Dirty Birds dodge fireworks as it flies into Tahoe

Dirty Birds
Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds are full-fledged rock stars who play July 4 in Crystal Bay.

It’s easy to see how this band came up with its name.

The lead singer of Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds described her attitude about first going onstage in front of a big crowd: “You’ve got to jump off that ledge and just see how you do, I guess.”

Arleigh Kincheloe learned she could fly, and the nine-member Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds rapidly ascended in the rock ’n’ funk sky.

“Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds was my first real full set, standing on a stage in front of people, which was terrifying. I was 21. It is funny thinking back on those years how scared I was yet I had already had a lot of experience onstage luckily because of my upbringing.”

Now a full-fledged rock star, Kincheloe still only just turned 24. But she’s earned her wings as a performer, her band voraciously tours, with more than 150 shows in its first two years. Migratory black-eyed juncos have nothing on this flock.

Kincheloe grew up in a musical family. Her brother Jason is the band’s harmonica player and Bram Kincheloe plays drums.

“I grew up playing with my parents band,” Arleigh Kincheloe said. “When I was a little girl I would sit in and sing with them. I was 9 years old. I was a novelty but as I got older I realized they were actually letting me sing real songs. I started writing songs at 18.

“My parents had a blues-rock band. I remember playing with them in smoky bars. They had horns. It was my musical education, singing “Honky Tonk Woman” with my parents. Kind of priceless.”

Bram Kincheloe had several contacts from music school, which helped his cousin build the band.

“I knew I wanted a horn section,” said Arleigh Kincheloe, who has an aggressive singing and onstage style.

“ ‘Aggressive’ is a good way to describe it,” she agreed, laughing.

The Brooklyn group’s self-titled debut album on Modern Vintage Recordings came out in November 2010. It began touring nationally in the spring and in 2012 released a full-length album, “Pound of Dirt.” Festival appearances include Bonnaroo, Gathering of the Vibes and moe.down, and venues like New York’s Beacon Theater and Bowery Ballroom.

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds also played the last Bowlive, the Brooklyn companion to Crystal Bay Casino’s Snowlive. Both events are hosted by the versatile trio Soulive with Alan and Neal Evans and Eric Krasno.

On Thursday, July 4, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds debut in the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room. Don’t be surprised if the band returns for Snowlive. It recently toured with the Alan Evans Trio. Eric and his brother Jeff, the promoter of Squaw Valley’s Wanderlust, also are based in Brooklyn. And to further egg on the speculation, Bram Kincheloe’s mother has a home in Truckee.

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds played in Tahoe in 2012 at Whiskey Dick’s Saloon in South Lake Tahoe.

“That was my first time hanging around the lake,” said Arleigh, whose band has recorded an EP set to be released in the fall. It was produced by Randy Jackson.

“With Randy it was so easy breezy,” she said. “His vibe is so chill. He’s absolutely the most mellow guy in the world, and working with somebody like that makes everybody else feel really comfortable and be able to be creatively aggressive. When you are working under stress, that obviously isn’t going to be good. The main thing I took away from working with him is, ‘Man, we’ve all got to relax and play some music.’ ”

Relaxing in the studio is one thing, but the onstage show will convey anything but relaxation.

It’s tough to get around in Tahoe on the Fourth of July, but it will be worth it to catch Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. It won’t be free the next time it flies into the basin.

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds

When: 10 p.m. Thursday, July 4

Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room

Cover: free

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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