Is it a case of “coals to Newcastle” or, in this instance, “bhangra to Birmingham”? Whatever, Red Baraat are a dhol drum-centred band from Brooklyn, and they build a high-energy band around those drums with lots more percussion and lots of brass.
In place of the bass there is a sousaphone, and the influences come as much from funk and New Orleans marching bands, rap, Balkan craziness and the Latin sounds of New York as they do from the bhangra and Bollywood styles.
Tunak Tunak Tun is a pretty good example, moving through a whole world of grooves.
Overall, though, on record – this is their first studio album – the music gets a little repetitive to my ears, despite its eclectic nature and the instrumental skill of all the players.
The album ends with two live recordings from the band, and these are the game-changers, reminding me that this music really does need to be heard – and danced to – in live performance.
And you can do just that tomorrow evening in Chamberlain Square in Birmingham, as Red Baraat opens the evening’s excitement prior to Mandala, a mix of British Asian music and dance with spectacular 3D live projections on Birmingham Town Hall.
Red Baraat start at 6.30pm. Get your dancing shoes out now. More here