To stake their claim as a force to be reckoned with on the New York music scene, Rockwood Music Hall (196 Allen St.) opened up their much anticipated Stage 2 last weekend.
In years past it was impossible to navigate through the immense crowds built up on Friday and Saturday nights. The accoustics were never the problem, but visually it was a chore. Even the management acknowledged this by setting up a T.V. to view the band at the adjacent bar.
Enter Stage 2. Much to the approval of jazz, blues, and indie rock fans this Allen St, staple, which has hosted acts such as Norah Jones, finally has a place to sit down. It features a large stage, ample seating, a full, relatively cheap bar and a balcony, where the band still rings the same as if one were in the front seats. Sure, Allen St.’s neighbor Ludlow still features Pianos and The Cake Shop, but with the addition of Stage 2, Rockwood has put itself a few notches ahead of their Lower East Side neighbors.
To finish off their inaugural weekend on Saturday night at Stage 2, Rockwood invited one of their favorite bands, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, who held a residency at the now Stage 1 for all of last summer. Comprised of musicians from Brooklyn, California, and the Catskills, Sister Sparrow is fronted by 22 year old Arleigh Kincheloe.
While combining the likes of Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt in her vocals, Ms Kincheloe can also draw comparisons to Jackson Browne and Tom Waitts in her lyrics. Adding to her prowess as a songwriter and vocalist she is joined by a talented band which features a full brass ensemble, a harmonica player, a drummer, a lead guitarist and a bassist, all of which are established musicians themselves. Arleigh’s brother Jackson is the harmonica player and has played private sets at the house of Levon Helms. Their cousin Bram Kincheloe has played to the beat of a different drum all his life and as recently as last year he was banging away in Siberia.
Bram introduced his kinship to his California friends, Ryan Snow (trombone) and JJ Byars (alto sax). Together they all teamed up in Brooklyn and met up with nationally known jazz saxophonist, Johnny Butler, and the equally talented, Cole Kamen (trumpet), Sasha Brown (guitar), and Aidan Carroll (bass). Upon hearing each band member’s solos its obvious that they are more than just a MoTown wannabe or another, “White Boy Blues,” band.
Musically the group clicks and the new venue is just right.
If this past Saturday’s show at Rockwood’s Stage 2 is any indication of things to come, then this is a welcome sight for those that are tired of the androgynous rock on Bedford Avenue or Ludlow Street.