Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds

The Catskill Mountains hid rock 'n' roll's best kept secret for almost 18 years.

Then in 2008, singer and songwriter Arleigh Kincheloe said goodbye to her hometown hideaway and moved to New York City to start Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds. In the years since, the group has performed more than 600 shows, released two full­length albums and an EP produced by Randy Jackson (American Idol), and enchanted tastemakers ranging from The Wall Street Journal and LA Times to Glamour, USA Today, and The New Yorker. They have shared the stage with such heavyweights as Gov't Mule, Dr. John, Trombone Shorty, The Avett Brothers, Counting Crows, and Galactic, and have turned audiences into believers through appearances on the festival circuit at Bonnaroo, Firefly, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Voodoo Music Experience and many more.

On May 19th, the band will unleash their most rambunctious, raucous, and righteous recording to date in the form of T​he Weather Below,​which features the band’s roster of her brother, Jackson Kincheloe (harmonica), Sasha Brown (guitar), Josh Myers (bass), Phil Rodriguez (trumpet), and Brian Graham (saxophones), and Dan Boyden (drums).

So, what is it about this "hard soul collective," as Arleigh so eloquently puts it, that has engendered such passion from both the press and the people?

"It's loud, fun, and it's supposed to make you feel good," she declares. "That's the goal."

Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds accomplish that goal tenfold with a saucy sonic brew of rock, blues, gospel, and soul. In order to perfect that signature amalgam, the band retreated to the iconic Bear Creek Studio (James Brown, Eric Clapton), just outside Seattle, WA. Locked in the studio for three weeks, they worked closely with producer Ryan Hadlock (The Lumineers, Vance Joy) and cooked up ten irresistible anthems.

"In the past, we did every other record while we were still on the road," says Arleigh. "This time, we blocked out time to immerse ourselves in the recording process. We lived at the studio and worked for 15 hours a day. Ryan was everything I’d hoped for. He saw my vision and added his own flavor. Plus, the studio is so beautiful. We were in a barn in the woods, which was very reminiscent of the Catskill Mountains for me. I felt right at home."

The group takes flight on the first single "Mama Knows." Bolstered by boisterous horns and bluesy grit, the track serves as a soulfully sweet ode to moms everywhere. "The idea for the chorus popped into my head when I was hanging out with my sister," Arleigh recalls. "We were thinking about our mom. She's a huge influence on why I sing. She was my role model. She sang too, and I'd attend her gigs as a little kid. She was so powerful and beautiful—just a queen in my eyes. On the flip side, she raised us to be really humble. I wanted to do something to show my appreciation to her and mothers like her everywhere."

Then there's "Prison Cells," which swings from a bright verse into a wild chant that encourages living it up in the moment with the people who matter the most. "It's about getting in trouble with your best friends and letting the fun take over," she goes on. "We're definitely prone to do that in my family. We'll get into trouble, but we'll be singing and dancing all the way."

Elsewhere on T​he Weather Below,​"Disappear" flaunts a South American­style cinematic shine, while "Don't Be Jealous" points the spotlight on Arleigh's passionate pipes in between a harmonica swell.

"That's The Dirty Birds anthem," she states. "It's the story of us on the road with me and a bunch of dudes and all of our trials and tribulations along the way. We're a crew, and we all have each other's backs. This is a family. That theme runs throughout everything."

Ultimately, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds stand poised to shake up rock 'n' roll all around the world. "This all stems back to why I loved performing and singing to begin with," Arleigh leaves off. "I want to make crowds happy and see them smile and dance. Singing brings me so much joy. I hope our music does the same for everyone."

American Babies

Since 2007 American Babies has been the mouthpiece for Philadelphia based musician Tom Hamilton. After spending the early 2000s building a national fan base fronting the electro-rock band Brothers Past, releasing two critically acclaimed albums and averaging 150 shows a year, a change was in order. Hamilton looked to shed the electronic “bleeps-n-boops” production that had become his calling card and make an album that was loose, rolling and full of vibe.

“Being in a band can get to be very political, where everyone needs to be happy. That doesn’t always lead to artistic fulfillment,” Hamilton says. “I had a vision I wanted to follow but felt that going solo as a singer/songwriter wasn’t a very comfortable fit for me. Then it dawned on me to just start another band where I’m the only real constant member. Problem solved.”

So Hamilton moved to Brooklyn and enlisted friends Joe Russo (Benevento/Russo Duo, Grateful Dead offshoot Furthur), Kevin Kendrick (Fat Mama), and brother Jim Hamilton to hit the studio with producer Jon Altschiller (Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Rachael Yamagata) and a dozen songs that spawned American Babies self-titled release (2008 Sci Fidelity).

“That first album was exactly what I wanted it to be. A few guys whom are great friends sitting around playing tunes that they all liked and having a good time together. We let the tape roll and just hung out laughing, drinking, and making fun of each other. Somewhere in there we managed to play some great stuff.”

Hamilton hit the road with American Babies either playing solo shows or with a rotating cast of players that included Russo, brother Jim Hamilton, Scott Metzger (Gene Ween Band), Dave Driewitz (WEEN), and Ryan Thornton (Sean Bones) landing showcases on Festivals like Bonnaroo and CMJ (2007), Langerado, SxSW and Newport Folk (2008) as well as supporting slots for the Derek Trucks Band, Sheryl Crow, The National, and the Wood Brothers.

So far, so good.

2009 found Hamilton bringing it all back home as he moved back to Philadelphia and partnered with producer Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man, Hoots and Hellmouth) to record American Babies’ second LP “Flawed Logic”. Using mostly Philadelphia based resources, writing and recording consumed the entire year.

“It was important for the Babies to evolve from the first album, to broaden the scope topically and sonically. With all that was happening in the world in late 2008 and 2009 it felt impossible not to have the events of the times dictate the story and direction of the album. That in of itself was an enormous creative shift and it made my job a lot easier.”

These sessions yielded the “Weight of the World EP” (2010) and the band’s second full length LP, “Flawed Logic” (2011). Releases that speak of change, war, Wall Street, family, and the struggle to wade through it all; be it alone or with a partner; short stories of different individuals and couples trying to navigate through modern day life hoping to at least break even. Mr. Hamilton says of the album:

“It’s about pressure. Pressure is always a part of life but in recent times it feels a bit heavier. Husband, wife, son, daughter, boss, soldier, what ever…We’re feeling the pinch and trying to figure out how to cope. At least that’s the way I’m calling it.”

Response to the album has been overwhelmingly positive as Atlas and Anchor states, “American Babies’ Flawed Logic may the best Americana, Alt-Country or ‘whatever you want to call it’ album of the year”,and State of Mind Magazine agrees saying, “hopefully 2011 will produce more records like Flawed Logic — definitely one of the best to come out this year.”

Since the release of “Flawed Logic”, Hamilton has found a more permanent, likeminded line up to fill out the band with Brooklyn-based drummer Dave Butler (Lee Scratch Perry, Dub is a Weapon) and fellow Philly folks Adam Flicker (The Brakes) on keys and Mark Karwan on Bass. The band has been turning heads all year and will be living on the road for the forseable future

The Whales

Tapping into the history of rock & roll, the Whales are blending contemporary and classic sounds alike: With rich vocal harmonies, heavy song craft, and an impeccable live show, the band is quickly turning heads with their original blend of blues, americana, soul and rock & roll.

Led by Jonah Wisneski (guitar/vocals) and comprised of Scott Roush (Drums/Vocals) & Logan Muckler (Bass), the Whales formed following gigs in support of Wisneski’s solo debut “Lights” (2011). Building on an already strong catalog of originals, the Whales are constantly adding new songs to their dynamic shows. From heavy hitting blues & high energy rock, to slow winding americana, the band twists and turns through the fabric of American music, while exploring sonic textures with musical prowess and finesse. With shows that top 3+ hours long, the band weaves in and out of various tempos and styles, to find a balance that captures the ears of it’s listener.

It’s not hard to find the band playing close to 100 shows a year throughout Colorado and the neighboring states. With future ahead, the Whales are are showing no signs of slowing down.

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