New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Red Baraat Release a Contemporary Take on a Classic Punjabi Folk Song

 

Throughout the course of this site’s eight year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based collective Red Baarat, and as you may recall, the act, which derives its name from baraat, a wild South Asian wedding procession that often features the groom riding a horse, an enormous group of extended friends and family, singing and dancing to music led by a brass band with drummers, and what the color red symbolizes in both Indian/South Asian and Western cultures — fiery red-blooded passion; in the case of the band, the passion they have towards creating and playing music, as well as the passion they inspire and elicit from fans, who catch them live. Led by Rochester, NY-born, Brooklyn-based bandleader, dholi, drummer and composer Sunny Jain, and featuring John Altieri (sousaphone), Ernest Stuart (trombone), Jonathon Haffner (saxophone), Sonny Singh (trumpet), Chris Eddleton (drums), Rohin Khemani (drums), and their newest member Jonathan Goldberger (guitar), the collective formed in 2008 — although it wasn’t until the release of their critically applauded and commercially successful sophomore effort Shruggy Ji that the band received widespread attention for a seamless, genre defying sound that draws from Indian classical music, bhangra, hip-hop, rock, pop and New Orleans brass.

The band’s sound and aesthetic is centered around Jain’s utopian vision and faith in the power of music and art instilling empathy, creativity and love to anyone who accepts it with an open heart and mind. Of course, as a result of Shruggy Ji‘s critical and commercial success, the collective has made 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, have played sold out headlining shows at the Luxembourg Philharmonic, the Bowery Ballroom and have performed at the request of The White House, TED and the Olympic Games.

Slated for a June 29, 2018 release through Rhyme & Reason Records, Red Baraat’s Little Shalimar and Sunny Jain co-produced Sound The People reportedly finds the band managing to continue their exploration of South Asian culture while placing it within the context of a globalized generation,  reflected by the diverse backgrounds of its members. Interestingly, Jain began writing the album’s material a few short weeks after Trump’s election victory, and as he says in press notes, “the record is a call to action against the various inequalities and injustices that we’re seeing. We desperately need citizen engagement in response to those injustices.” Adding to the global focus, the album features guest spots from Pakistani singer and writer Ali Sethi, Das Racist’s Heems, American poet and activist Suheir Hammad and American humorist John Hodgman. “With the migration that’s happened, there is all this varied and expressive music that has erupted from the South Asian Diaspora,” says Jain. “Sound The People is a shoutout to, and celebration of this community around the world.”

Sounds The People‘s latest single “Kala Mukhra,” features Ali Sethi contributing his sonorous baritone and is as Jain explains, “. . . our take on a Punjabi folk song called ‘Ghora Mukhra.’ I first heard this song a couple of years ago when Ali Sethi shared a 1950s recording with me, featuring the acclaimed ghazal singer Iqbal Bano, with a brass band. I’ve heard very few Punjabi brass band recordings featuring a vocalist and so when Red Baraat was gearing up to work on a new album, it seemed fitting to try and see what we could do with this song. The meaning of Ghora Mukhra literally means “white face.” There’s a fetishization in South Asian culture about being fair-skinned or light-skinned, something that is pressed upon women. It’s ridiculous, but this kind of nonsense is witnessed throughout the world to varying degrees. So while we loved the melody and brass band flavor of this song, we needed a different narrative. I asked Ali if he could come up with some lyrics that are more aligned with our beliefs and also reflective of the times we are living in.” And while being a propulsive and densely arranged song, the song manages to be a boldly and proudly defiant and danceable track that will remind listeners that music holds a profound and true power.

The members of Red Baraat have a long-held reputation for being relentless road warriors and they’re about to embark on a lengthy world tour that will include a June 8, 2018 stop at Flushing Town Hall. Check out the tour dates below.

TOUR DATES:
5/7 – London, UK – Rich Mix
5/8 – Bristol, UK – The Louisiana
5/11 – Caceres, ES – WOMAD Caceres
5/12 – Madrid, ES – Sala Clamores
5/13 – Barcelona, ES – Club Marula
5/14 – San Sebastian, ES – Club Dabadaba
5/15 – Zaragoza, ES – Sala Las Armas
5/16 – Santander, ES – Sala BNS
5/17 – Bilbao, ES – Kafe Antzokia
5/18 – Paris, FR – New Morning Jazzclub
5/19 – Brussells, BE – Jam’in Jette Festival

5/20 – Nijmegen, NE – Music Meeting
5/22 – Wels, AT – Alter Schlachthof
5/24 – Vienna, AT – Wiener Konzerthaus
5/26 – Austin, TX – 3Ten @ Austin City Limits Live
5/27 – Dallas, TX – Soluna Intl Music & Arts Festival | Klyde Warren Park
6/8 – Flushing, NY – Flushing Town Hall
6/11 – Camden, NJ – Sunset Jazz Series at Wiggins Waterfront Park
6/22 – Los Angeles, CA – The Satellite

6/25 – Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Music Hall

6/26 – Oakland, CA – The New Parish
6/28 – Saskatoon, SK – SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
6/29 – Saskatoon, SK – SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
6/30 – Victoria, BC – TD Victoria International JazzFest | Centennial Square
7/1 – Vancouver, BC – TD Victoria International JazzFest | David Lam – Park Main Stage
7/25 – Reno, NV – Artown
7/27 – Denver, CO – Clyfford Still Museum Summer Series

7/28 – Basalt, CO – The Temporary
8/11 – Greensboro, NC – Lebauer Park
8/13 – Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle
8/16 – Madison, WI – The Central Park Sessions
8/17 – Detroit, MI – The Cube at the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center

 

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