Performing as Sister Sparrow, Arleigh Kincheloe travels with a large flock. She and her eight-member band, The Dirty Birds, spread their wings and left their New York nest for a national tour.
Getting that many people on the same page proved to be quite a feat.
“It’s crazy logistically, but we have it down to a science now,” Kincheloe said. “That being said, it’s sometimes hard wrangling everyone into the van and getting going on time. It’s a lot of moving parts, but I think the level of respect we have for each other makes it pretty easy. It’s not nearly as challenging as it might be otherwise.”
The group headlines Thursday’s inaugural Heartland Summit Jazz concert, a collaboration between Norman’s Performing Arts Studio and Jazz in June.
The task is more than worth it for Kincheloe, who formed the act as a duo with her brother, Jackson, in 2008. The full blues- and soul-inspired sound she craved soon demanded more members to articulate the tunes in her head.
“I wrote music with that in mind. Drums and guitar are a given, and I always wanted horns. That’s four extra right there,” Kincheloe said with a laugh. “We wanted the power of the horns to punch it up.”
The rest of the additions, including Oklahoma City native Aidan Carroll on bass, have made the ensemble a family affair, blood or no.
“It makes everyone else feel a part of the family as well,” Kincheloe said. “We all get along really well, and it adds to the vibe of the band.”
It makes sense, considering she was born to a country singer mother and drummer father.
“I grew up listening to mostly older stuff. I think I was just drawn to that throwback era of music,” Kincheloe said. “It certainly inspires my songwriting.”
The various players bring a wealth of experience, backing the likes of Branford Marsalis and Beyoncé. That blend results in a unique style of soulful rock, recalling anything from The Band to Bonnie Raitt. It’s worked out swimmingly for The Dirty Birds, whose spirited live shows have garnered them spots opening for The Black Keys and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals.
Last month, the nine-piece released its sophomore album, Pound of Dirt, which found the ensemble molt into its best and brightest form yet.
“In all the time surrounding the record, I was singing every day of the week. I think it helped me solidify my style,” Kincheloe said. “We had more time to sit with it and work with it. I think that we took it to the next level.”