Free at Noon Flashback: Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds bring joyful energy and a commanding presence to World Cafe Live

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Sister Sparrow | photo by Taylor Johnson for WXPN

Sister Sparrow and her band the Dirty Birds flew into town for a perfectly-timed Free at Noon performance — “Gold,” the title track off the band’s new album, is XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week this week, and they play a headlining show tonight at the TLA. Though it’s become more of a solo project lately after several of the band members found themselves living too far apart to collaborate as much, this afternoon’s dynamic set proved that with this new album cycle Sister Sparrow is spreading her wings more than ever before.

Okay, bird puns aside: Sister Sparrow is the project of singer-songwriter Arleigh Kincheloe; the Dirty Birds are her soulful seven-piece backing band who cover instrumental duties, ranging from saxophone to harmonica, allowing the frontwoman to focus her energy on her powerfully belted vocals and charismatic performance style. And she has an abundance of energy — commanding every inch of the stage with ease, Kincheloe led the band through today’s set of fast-paced, catchy songs that masterfully blend genres from modern pop to old-school blues.

Sister Sparrow came prepared with a selection of songs from Gold that showcase the best of the band’s songwriting, focusing on the album’s most lively tracks to get the noontime audience on their feet. With seven players the Dirty Birds’ sound is huge, with a robust horn section and harmonica solos aplenty, yet restrained enough to never overpower Kincheloe. It was clear that each of the musicians had worked hard to give the band’s live performance such a captivating presence, yet also true that they seemed to be having a blast while onstage; a magnetic, joyful energy that easily translated onto the crowd.

Tickets are still available for Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds’ show tonight at the TLA; find more information on the XPN Concert Calendar.

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