“The best party band in years.” – NPR
Saturday, May 27, 7:30p
at the Roxbury Arts Center
5025 Vega Mountain Road
Red Baraat, a group of eight musicians, are guaranteed to whip you into a frenzy with an unprecedented, high energy, gut-busting fusion of jazz, hip-hop beats, rock muscle, funky go-go, and scalding hot bhangra for the special Memorial Day Weekend performance in the Catskills. The horn section will blare, percussionists will pound, everybody will shout, and the group’s charismatic leader, Sunny Jain, will hold the explosive songs together with rhythms from his dhol – the Indian double-headed drum played slung over the shoulder that provides bhangra with its frenetic heartbeat.
Versatility is one the band’s hallmarks. Red Baraat can mesmerize an audience with a funk groove, turn a switch, and drive the same crowd to the brink of delirium. Since its formation in 2008, and the critical acclaim of their second studio album Shruggy Ji, Red Baraat has been propelled on a nonstop three-year world tour that included appearances at Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Festivals in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Along the way they sold out rooms as diverse as the Luxembourg Philharmonic and New York City’s iconic Bowery Ballroom, and performed at the request of The White House, TED and Olympic Games. Yet no matter how much success and notoriety Red Baraat has achieved, Sunny Jain and his comrades have never stopped experimenting or adding new elements to their peculiar alchemy.
This performance follow Red Baraat’s release of their third studio album, Bhangra Pirates, which features a key element that the first two did not: guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, whose surreal textures and percussive playing is the ideal complement to Jain’s thunderous dhol. Additionally, the sonic pallet has further expanded with processed effects on both the dhol and sousaphone. The formidable Red Baraat brass section remains intact: sousaphonist John Altieri, whose deep bottom end anchors the ensemble’s explorations, electrifying trombonist Ernest Stuart, dexterous sax man Jonathon Haffner, and trumpeter Sonny Singh, whose melodic sensibility has colored all of the band’s projects. Drummers Chris Eddleton and Rohin Khemani alternate between power and precision – Eddleton draws his inspiration from hip-hop and rock, while Khemani from world percussion, notably Indian classical music.
Each musician in the band pulls from distinct traditions while speaking through their instrument with their own particular musical vocabulary. That it works so well is a testament to Sunny Jain’s utopian vision and his faith that communication across cultures doesn’t have to be vexed in the slightest. All it takes is empathy, creativity, love, and willingness to abandon reservations and surrender to the spirit of music and the moment. This effortless outlook empowers Red Baraat to do what it does best – communing with their audience in a joyful, near hedonistic celebration of music and dance, which tellingly draws a crowd even more diverse than the players on stage. “The universality of what Red Baraat does is undeniable,” says Jain. “Bhangra Pirates embodies that push and pull in all of us…free spirit, community, rebellion, tradition, and new journeys.”