Red Baraat brings its ethnically diverse amalgam of North Indian dance music and second line rhythms back to New Orleans this weekend, culminating in several performances on Mardi Gras Day. This multi-cultural ensemble led by dhol player Sunny Jain immediately topped the Billboard World Music charts with its just-released second album, Shruggy Ji. Traditional Indian instruments join with the brass band staples of drums, sousaphone, trombone, trumpets and saxophones in this unique musical mashup. Their performances are wildly celebratory whether in concert or at street parades, and we’re going to get opportunities to see both sides of the group.
Sunday night they headline at the Blue Nile, where they blend perfectly into the mayhem of Frenchmen Street during Mardi Gras. On Lundi Gras they open for Galactic at Tipitina’s and there’s sure to be some great intergroup jamming before that night is through. Then it’s on to Mardi Gras Day, when Red Baraat will join the Krewe of Just Us at 1 p.m. to parade through the French Quarter, then lead a parade from Frenchmen Street at 4 p.m. to the Hi Ho Lounge, where they’ll perform a set opening up for the fifth annual renewal of the Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra, a group made up of Mardi Gras Indians, rock musicians and improvisational jazz performers.
“It’s become something more than a tradition,” said bassist Reggie Scanlan, a founding member of the Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra> “It’s like being part of an honor guard of spirit music. I look forward to playing this gig every year. It’s always different and amazing things take place on that stage.”
Scanlan will be joined by his former partner in the Radiators, guitarist Camile Baudoin, and his current partner in the New Orleans Suspects, keyboardist C. R. Gruver. The lineup will also include vocalists Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes (Big Chief- North Side Skull & Bones gang), Juan Pardo (War Chief- Golden Commanches), and David Montana (Second Chief- Yellow Pocahontas); guitarist Sam Hotchkis; percussionist Rosie Rosato; drummer Kevin O’Day; saxophonist Tim Green; cellist Helen Gillet; and violinist Harry Hardin. Don’t be surprised to see members of Red Baraat up on that stage as well.