Red Baraat's new album, Shruggy Ji, is out on January 22nd.
(Courtesy of the artist)
Sunny Jain, founder of the group Red Baraat, first set eyes on the traditional South Asian percussion instrument known as the dhol when he was just five years old. He was in India for his uncle’s wedding and was captivated by the band and the booming double-sided drums that they carried.
So it should come as no surprise that many years later he named his own dhol 'n brass band after that very experience: Red Baraat translates to "red wedding procession."
Red Baraat, which formed in 2008, may on occasion play actual weddings. But the nine-piece "Brooklyn Bhangra" ensemble, which knits together Punjabi rhythms, New Orleans brass, New York hip hop, and a bit of DC’s Go-go groove, brings a rollicking, high-octane party wherever they go -- be it a rock venue, the stages of Bonnaroo, or the White House, where they had cabinet members up and dancing last spring.
The group's second record,Shruggy Ji (out Jan. 22) takes this joyous, eminently appealing live energy and packages it into an energetic 13-song set. The album sets Sufi devotionals like the infectious "Dama Dam Mast Qalander" alongside popular Bollywoood songs like "Tenu Leke," next to the title track, a Red Baraat original.
"Shruggy Ji," Jain says, is about a "mythical character that lives within all of us. A shadow that disappears at night... and comes out on the dance floor." On Shruggy Ji, Red Baraat draws from a deep well of tradition, and creates its own modern devotionals that turn shrugging shoulders and shaking shins into swinging spirituals.
Gretta joined Soundcheck in 2010, having spent several years as a freelance radio documentary producer. Her stories on birders, fishermen, nurses, performance artists and even the Yale Whiffenpoofs have aired on a variety of outlets, from WNYC's Studio 360 to APM's The Story. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Brown University and studied radio production at The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. She was a cellist in the rock band Cursive from 2001-2005.