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Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds Cover Zeppelin at The Bowl

by Jeff Miller on February 06, 2014

Photo by Dino Perrucci

Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds

Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn, N.Y.

January 31

The phrase “a small girl with a big voice” should be accompanied by a photo of Arleigh Kincheloe, the singer for the NY-based Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds. Kincheloe wails with the passion of a thousand banshees and the control of singers like Sharon Jones or Janis Joplin. So it's no surprise that her band's reinvention of Led Zeppelin IV – yes, the whole damn thing – at a sold out show at the Brooklyn Bowl on the Friday before the Super Bowl was inspired and captivating. It was a whole lot of fun, too.

Kinchole is the center of attention both literally and figuratively throughout; she alternates between overtly sexy hip-gyrations and girl-next-door who-me ingénue looks throughout the performance, but what makes her captivating is her vocal power. Opening the show with Michael Jackson's “The Way You Make Me Feel,” punctuated by a 3-piece horn section powering through the songs' changes, while Kinchoele radiated confidence and charisma. The band wound its way through some originals, getting into the groove, with harmonica-vs-guitar interplay on one, and power-drumming another, never losing focus.

But the main event was Zeppelin IV, which the group completely re-organized from the get go. “Black Dog” has undergone soul arrangements before, so the horn hits on it weren't totally unrecognizable, though they took over Jimmy Page's wound-up guitar on the song's coda, popping and dropping rather than rocking and jocking. “Rock and Roll” may have been the most-restructured song of the set, with the band weaving in and out of the opening lick to Rage Against The Machine's “Bulls On Parade” throughout, creating not just a new arrangement, but a live mashup. “Stairway To Heaven,” of course, may have been the most challenging rewrite: it started straightforward enough, but by the time we were bustling in a hedgerow, Kinchole was running scales up and down all over the place, scatting and re-jiggering Robert Plant's vocal phrasing in a way that would have been criminal if it weren't so genuine. “Misty Mountain Hop” devolved into a ska jam with hints of Paul Simon, and “When The Levee Breaks” was a wall of sound thanks to 3 extra horn players, a true aural assault.

For the encore, Sister Sparrow rocked “D'Yer Maker” – one of those Zeppelin songs that's not as heralded as the others, but every bit as good – nay, great. The same can be said for Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds.

Authors: Jeff Miller


Stairway to Heaven was pretty different up until the solo!
The original song is in 4/4 time, while the version the guys did at BB was in 6/8. If you were to play both versions one next to another you would absolutely notice the difference!

By Tom - 02/06/14

I would have loved loved to have seen this.  Can’t say enough good things about this band, they just flat out wail.  Cream of the crop on the road today.

By David Barry - 02/06/14

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