For the second night in a row, the Bowery Ballroom was grooving. Brooklyn-based bands Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds teamed up with The Pimps of Joytime on Saturday, to put the final touches on their mini co-headlining tour of the Northeast. The night also marked the beginning of a month-long tour break for both bands, after a year of touring that saw each band play over 90 shows. A “school’s out” atmosphere easily permeated from the bands to the slightly older crowd throughout the night, as they let loose on the dance floor.
After opening support from Jason Spooner, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds was first to go on. Backed by a trio of brass, her brother Jackson at harmonica, and the bass/guitar/drum trinity, Arleigh Kincheloe, better known as Sister Sparrow, shined in an emotional performance aided by the Ballroom’s intimacy.
Kincheloe’s small frame belied her powerful voice and had a unifying effect on the band’s sound, easily transitioning from Jazz to R&B to Rock. Her powerful ballads on love, happiness, heartbreak, and suffering had spellbinding effects on the audience, broken up by strong instrumental solos highlighted by saxophonist Brian Graham’s rousing turn. The band is using their upcoming time off to record a fourth album, and their giddy anticipation for it was apparent in the two new songs they debuted.
The Pimps of Joytime set the tone early on their homecoming, opening with “Funky Brooklyn” from their 2008 album Funk Fixes and Remixes. From there, the funk-chic dressed group led by guitarist Brian J put on an energetic and eclectic set that had the crowd grooving past midnight. The band’s sound switched expertly from Afro-beat to Salsa to lo-fi EDM, aided by a bevy of electronic samples that enhanced their atmospheric synths and percussions.
Towards the end of their set, Brian J invited Jackson from the Dirty Birds onto the stage, for a surreal harmonica exchange between the two that ended in an infectious dance jam. Most impressively, the tour veterans had zero let up between songs and effortlessly kept the party going into the early Sunday hour.
[Photos and writing by Aaron Glick]