Los Angeles-based alt-rockers the Moth & the Flame were one of the most buzzed-about bands of September’s waterlogged PearlPalooza street fest, and so it was no surprise when they made a return to Albany’s North Pearl Street for a free headlining concert at the Hollow Bar + Kitchen last month.
They were joined by Katie Hammon’s Bear Grass, who opened the show.
Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Timothy Reidy
It goes without saying that when seven-piece Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds play your town, the energy levels surge so high that even the snow outside starts to melt. On this particular Saturday night, the Hollow Bar + Kitchen was sizzling and filled to capacity. It was nothing but a house party from start to finish – “Albany should always be this much fun!” as one woman in the audience exclaimed to me feverishly after the two-hour set.
The band, a self-described “hard soul collective” led by the immensely talented and beautiful singer Arleigh “Sister Sparrow” Kincheloe, was greeted with a roar from the crowd even before the first notes of long-time favorite “Freight Train.” The second-line rhythms of New Orleans and standout riffs of Phil Rodriguez (trumpet) and Brian Graham (saxophone) galvanized “Millie Mae” and had the patrons cutting a rug.
Several songs from the band’s upcoming album The Weather Below got a strong reception. “Don’t Be Jealous,” a strutting blues led by guitarist Sasha Brown and the deep groove of Dan Boyden (drums) and Josh Myers (bass), had Sister Sparrow testifying and flying around the stage, exhorting the crowd to dance its cares away. A soulful “We Need a Love,” “Sugar” (highlighted by a spontaneous, mid-song Bo Diddley-esque clap-along) and the current single, “Mama Knows,” a deep soul number that featured some poignant Hammond B-3 styled harp playing by Arleigh’s big brother Jackson Kincheloe, kept the crowd rapt. “Borderline” began with a multi-vocal introduction and hit some Sly Stone-worthy hooks; it would make a great second single release sometime this spring. “Prison Cells,” which was featured later in the set, percolated with Caribbean rhythms and inspired Sister Sparrow herself to pick up some sticks and join Boyden behind the kit while Rodriguez dropped some knowledge on the trumpet.
as the former lead singer with the now-defunct Chicago band Company of Thieves, Genevieve is certainly no stranger to the Albany Pearl Street club scene, having performed in recent years at Jillian’s, the Bayou Cafe and PearlPalooza.
Earlier this month, Genevieve made her Nippertown solo debut with her new band, playing the Hollow Bar + Kitchen and showcasing selections from her upcoming EP, Show Your Colors. Saratoga alt-rockers Better by Morning opened the show with plenty of snap ‘n’ pop.
Fresh off their big U.S. tour in support of their latest album, Odds & Ends, the End Men ripped up Albany’s Hollow Bar + Kitchen with a free mid-week show last month, sharing the stage with Seattle trio My Goodness.
Churning out their down-and-dirty blues-rockin’ sound, the Brooklyn-based End Men – the dynamic duo of Matthew Hendershot (guitar, vocals) and Livia Ranalli (drums, percussion, vocals) – sounded razor-sharp, their finely honed chops matching their go-for-the-throat attitude.
It’s a big week for vocalist Tara Merritt and the other members of Mirk, who open for Dwele at Albany’s free Alive at Five concert in Jennings Landing at 5pm on Thursday (June 26)) and then take over the Hollow Bar + Kitchen on Saturday (June 28) for a CD release party in celebration of their new album, Run.