Red Baraat is the best party band I've seen in years. The group plays rollicking funk music steeped in Northern India's wedding celebrations, with a dash of D.C. go-go beats and hip-hop. It's all driven by Sunny Jain's dhol, a double-sided barrel drum that hangs down low around his body.
Sometimes, an idea is so perverse and bizarre that it needs to be carried out and followed to its logical end. So once we hatched the idea to bring long-haired, wild-eyed, keyboard-pounding, sublimely over-the-top party-rocker Andrew W.K. to perform an intimate concert at Bob Boilen's desk, there was no abandoning it. It simply had to happen.
For all the fetishization of Craig Finn's words — which he's spit out in knotty bundles on many albums by rock bands The Hold Steady and Lifter Puller — he's usually careful to dress them up in brash, populist sounds. His desperate, damaged characters may live their lives on the brink, keeping one eye trained on the redemption brought about by some combination of God and rock 'n' roll, but Finn rarely leaves their stories unadorned.
The first time I saw Pokey LaFarge, he was walking around the grounds of the 2010 Newport Folk Festival wearing a suit and tie, with his hair slicked down. To tell the truth, I thought, "Who is this guy?
Just when you think you know Cuban music, along comes the Creole Choir of Cuba. This group sprang from the ashes of Grupo Vocal Desandann, a small vocal outfit created in the late 1990s to celebrate traces of Haitian culture in eastern Cuba. That history dates back to the late 18th century, when slaves from Haiti were delivered to Cuba to harvest sugarcane after successful slave revolts in Haiti. A long-lost culture was revitalized by the group through music performed largely a cappella and entirely in Haitian Creole.