Re: [Harp-L] cool horn band w/harp

In a happy coincidence mere days after being alerted by Rosco, I jumped on the opportunity to see "Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds," who appeared in a free concert last night only 25 miles from where I live in the Colorado outback, of all places! I had never heard of the band until Rosco put them on my radar, and I would have undoubtedly missed a terrific show were it not for him and Harp-L. Thanks Rosco! And Harp-L strikes again!

Since Jackson Kincheloe, the bands harper, is on the "L," I knew his e-mail address and took the liberty of e-mailing him ahead of time to tell him about the cool, high-altitude venue (scenic Ridgway, Colorado, where they filmed the original "True Grit). I introduce myself to him as he was setting up his gear on stage (which I'll describe in a moment). Very approachable, personable and friendly, I could tell the band is in good hands (in addition to being the lead singer's brother, he's also the tour manager). He seemed to appreciate having a "harmonica kindred spirit" around.

As advertised by Rosco, this horn band is the real deal. Baritone and alto sax'es, trombone and trumpet round out the horn section, and there's also bass and electric guitars in the mix along with Jackson on harp. All are very accomplished musicians who form an uncannily "tight" group. Seems to me Jackson has a thing or two to say about driving a harp to compete with a very active (read loud) horn section. He uses a little Harpgear II which he mic's to the PA as well as using it as a stage monitor right at his feet. Ahead of that he has an effects board with about 4-5 pedals on it (you'll have to ask him what they are; I really wouldn't know one if I got bit by it). His mic' looked like an SM-57 with a Samson wireless unit. I can tell you that he does use them all to good effect. Being a harp nut, I would have liked to hear him better in the mix, a problem no doubt due to the sound man. He did seem to get drowned out a bit when the horns were really cranked up. All in all, he held his own quite well with the horns, even with the mix as it was.

Of course, the most striking thing about the band other than their tight arrangements and killer horns, is the petite little singer. Arleigh Kincheloe sings like a woman three times her size. Amazingly, this little wisp of a gal is able to front this powerful band quite well, thank you very much. There's little question who the real star of the band is, though I must admit to being more captivated by the quality of the musicianship and how tightly the guys play together.

After the show, Jackson and I chatted a little while. He lamented blowing out another Ab harp that night, allowing how painful that was because since there are so many band members, each person is paid relatively little per gig. He seems pretty well wired into the harmonica community, sharing stories about Jason Ricci (his greatest influence) Wade Schuman, and Joe Filisko, amongst others. A very nice and personable young man indeed, Jackson Kincheloe, and I might mention very handsome up close!

One last thing. The one song that clearly got the crowd up and shakin' things the most was Jackson's chugging train song intro. Backed by ample amounts of electronic processing, he wowed the audience and got them all to their feet. It's a great thing to watch when a little harmonica in the right hands can get a crowd really pumped even in the midst of an evening of hot horn band music!

I second Rosco: See 'em if you can!


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