Get ‘Shruggy’ With It

Prepare to dance when Red Baraat brings North-India-style bhangra rhythms, brass funk, hip-hop and jazz to Port Washington.

Red Baraat. Credit: Stephen Welsh.
Red Baraat. Credit: Stephen Welsh.

Fresh from its sold-out New York City performances at Highline Ballroom and Joe’s Pub, Red Baraat’s next stop is Port Washington’s Landmark on Main Street.

Red Baraat’s sound is steeped in jazz, go-go, brass funk, hip-hop – and a whole lot of bhangra rhythms, North-Indian wedding-style.

Bandleader and dohl drummer Sunny Jain explained the meaning behind the name "Red Baraat" (pronounced Ba-raat, with the second syllable rhyming with “hot”).

Barraat is the “festive wedding processional” with “singing, dancing and family” as the “groom is going to pick up his bride,” Jain said, noting that the band got its start playing before Indian weddings.

And “Red” signifies love, energy and excitement.

All of those elements permeate when Red Baraat takes the stage – see for yourself now via this YouTube clip – and explain why NPR Music dubbed the band’s new album, “Shruggy Ji” one of the top 10 world music albums in 2013.

As Shain told the Austin Chronicle, “Shruggy” refers to “the Punjabi dance where you’re shrugging your shoulders and “Ji” is a form of respect in Hindi.” “Shruggy Ji” he said, is the “personality that lives within in all of us that can be unlocked on the dance floor.”

Red Baraat is the first band to perform this style of music in the United States, Jain said, saying that once the band started getting gigs, they began getting calls from as far away as Los Angeles “because there were no bands available.”

Audience members span the gamut, from “the three-year-old bouncing on someone’s shoulder to an 80-year-old man smiling,” Jain said. The music “speaks to you universally.”

Port Washington is just one of Red Baraat’s stops before the band heads in March to Australia and New Zealand, where they play WOMAD, the World of Music, Arts & Dance festival, founded by Peter Gabriel.

As for playing Indian weddings, “we still do that from time to time,” Jain said.

But mostly Red Baraat takes to the stage, playing a mix of original music to dancing, grinning fans. 


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