The rigorous rhythms and party atmosphere of Red Baraat stole the show at last summer’s XPoNential Music Festival, and they’ll return to town tonight for their Festival of Colors show at Underground Arts. Part of the band’s mission is celebrating bhangra music and introducing it to new audiences, and the motivation behind the Festival comes from a similar place. With featured openers Mandeep Sethi and Falu, Red Baraat wants to shine a spotlight on less-heard / less-seen South Asian artists in general. Read more in Shaun Brady’s writeup on the Festival, and get tickets and information at the XPN Concert Calendar.
For leader Sunny Jain, every Red Baraat performance is a celebration. Hammering buoyant beats on the dhol – a double-headed Indian drum – Jain expects his vigorous rhythms to infect not just his bandmates but his audiences, and he’s not afraid to shout encouragement at a crowd to get them on their feet. But the band’s annual Festival of Colors is even more of a party, an evening of multi-hued festivities meant to shine a spotlight on South Asian artists working in a variety of styles and mediums. Founded in 2012 in New York City, the fest marks its second iteration in Philly on Thursday night at Underground Arts.
The headliners, of course, are Red Baraat themselves – after all, no one would dare follow this boisterous blend of brass band, bhangra, jazz, funk, and Bollywood sounds. The eight-piece band is a hurricane of percussion and horns (including native Philly trombonist Ernest Stuart). This year the event will also feature Indian-American singer Falu, who combines Indian classical and folk music with a contemporary approach; and California hip-hop MC Mandeep Sethi. Photos from last year’s Webster Hall Festival of Colors depict a dancing, sweating crowd and winged dancers on stilts, so expect the evening to live up to the vibrant promise of its name. Tickets and info on the show can be found here.
After winning over the Philly crowd at XPoNential Music Festival, Free at Noon and a headlining set at The Blockley, Brooklyn eight-piece bhangra-funk dance crew Red Baraat will return to Philly on March 27 for a headlining Holi celebration (with confetti!) at Underground Arts. Tickets for the show are on sale now via Ticketfly. For more, read Marc Snitzer’s interview with Red Baraat founder Sunny Jain here, revisit their XPoNential set here and in the video below.
Brooklyn-based eight piece ensemble Red Baraat fired up the Philly crowd with their jazzed-up spin on traditional Bhangra music. Even though they brought back the same energy that got you jumping at this year’s Xponential Festival, Friday’s Free At Noon performance was only a sneak peak for their set later that night at The Blockley. Check out which tunes they played from their latest album Shruggy Ji by viewing the setlist and photo gallery below, and listening to their performance in its entirety here (via the WXPN media player).
There’s no magic or alchemic wizardry behind Red Baraat’s successful synthesis of East-meets-West. They just know the key to get asses shaking.
The Brooklyn-based band, having melded elements of jazz, funk, go-go, bhangra and Bollywood into an expansive and explosive final product since 2008, works on a simpler, more matter-of-fact level, according to bandleader and dhol drum player Sunny Jain.
“One main reason I would say is the fact that you have five horn players and three drummers and these guys are all playing their hearts out,” he says, referring to Red Baraat’s always-impassioned live performances. It may be as simple as that, really. “They’re serious musicians. They’re not just people screwing around and putting on a show. These guys know their instruments in and out, but they also know how to throw down. They party hard on the stage. I think that brings a lot to the sound, having eight people up there, when there’s just a lot of energy and passion that’s being brought.”
In other words, Jain and company know how to go hard. They demonstrated this at the XPoNential Music Festival and will again today at the Free at Noon concert, and tonight at the Blockley. All eight Red Baraat members come from extensive musical backgrounds, cutting their teeth professionally and methodically through schooling from Berklee College of Music and other programs (trombone whiz Ernest Stuart is a Temple grad). Between Jain, Stewart, saxophonist Mike Bomwell, trumpet players Sonny Singh and MiWi La Lupa, sousaphone player John Altieri and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, Red Baraat possesses the highly refined technical skills necessary to make their unique fusion of cultural sounds and rhythms work.
“I also don’t know if it’s necessarily just a genre thing,” says Jain about any given Red Baraat show’s crowd reception. “It’s also interesting that the spotlight always shifts. I think that’s cool for people to notice that there’s not a lead singer and a band surrounding that person.” Continue reading →
Brooklyn’s Red Baraat will bring its jazz and brass funk-fused Indian rhythms to The Blockley stage tonight. The eight-piece ensemble released their Shruggy Ji LP earlier this year via Sinj Records. Back in 2011, the band’s performance at globalFest made Bob Boilen of NPR’s list of favorite shows of the year. Watch their dynamic performance of “Shruggy Ji” below, listen to their XPN Fest set here and get tickets here.
Despite age, genre and prominence, local acts who played the 2013 XPoNential Music Festival showcased their best for a hometown audience, both on the stage and on the air.
For Aaron Brown, front man for Philadelphia-based rock and soul band Aaron and the Spell, kicking off the festival on Friday night made for an “absolutely fantastic” experience.
“For me and my music, its helping me to find an audience,” Brown said. “It’s really hard to break out there, it’s a lot of bands doing a lot of great work. It’s hard to get out there and get people to even know about you.”
Brown said he hopes playing the festival helped him come away with a few new fans, if not for him personally, than for any members of his talented nine-piece band comprised of all Philly musicians.
“I’m blessed and thankful that new people can find something in me and my band that they appreciate and, hopefully, want to follow, whether it’s the amazing background singers or the amazing horn players or the amazing drummer or guitar player,” he said. “Even if I’m at the bottom of the list, I don’t care.”
Though his soulful voice and sound is sometimes compared favorably to Stevie Wonder, Brown said he doesn’t mind getting constructive criticism from listeners.
“If you see music and you don’t like it and it’s bad, tell the artist,” Brown said. “Don’t be mean, but tell them so artists can get better, some critical thought there that artists can continue to improve. I appreciate that. People do that to me all the time, people tell me I suck non-stop. But you know what, it’s cool and it helps me out.”
Lancaster-based bluesy rock band The Districts have had little time between playing Philly house shows and one of its biggest festivals, but didn’t falter during their first set for such a large crowd.
The four-piece band of 18- and 19-year-old musicians agreed that, aside from playing for new people, the best part of the festival was playing alongside some of their favorite national acts on the line-up.
“It’s coolest from like a fanboy stance,” said frontman Rob Grote (even though high-pitched screams from female fans echoed during their own set).
The Districts also cite Philly favorites like Dr. Dog, Man Man and Toy Soldiers as some of their biggest influences, and enjoy playing in the city because of the huge amount of other great acts.
“There are so many people to meet, so many places to go, and the connections between [bands], you find out they’re all connected somehow,” said guitarist Mark Larson. “So once you’re in, word just kind of spreads around. It’s a very music- accepting city.” Continue reading →