For most of the members of Red Baraat, the eight-piece, Brooklyn-based bhangra and brass band, the Rialto Theatre will be just another venue on a long list of venues during its latest tour.
But not for trumpet player Sonny Singh, a University of Arizona graduate. Singh moved to Phoenix from North Carolina as a teen. He came to the UA to study sociology.
His ska band in town, Turban Jones, released two albums in its prime and was often tapped to perform as the opening act for national groups.
One of his favorite Rialto experiences was as an audience member, watching Fishbone perform at the venue in the late 1990s.
“Angelo (Moore), their sax player and singer, played this gigantic bass saxophone and did at least one back flip,” Singh said in a phone interview from his Brooklyn home. “They played with such power and energy. The Rialto was the perfect venue to see that.”
Now it is Singh’s turn to take the Rialto stage. Red Baraat performs at the venue on Friday as part of the UApresents 2013-14 concert season.
Called “a big band for a big world” by the Wall Street Journal, the group melds elements of traditional north Indian bhangra with brass-based funk, go-go, jazz and hip hop.
Percussionist Sunny Jain founded Red Baraat in 2008, recruiting musicians from all walks of life into his musical experiment.
Singh, who had moved to Amherst, N.Y., then New York City after the UA, was on board right away.
“I was excited about the idea,” he said. “We were all bringing in different musical reference points, inspirations, styles of playing.”
The band honed its chops performing at Indian and Pakistani weddings around New York, before moving onto the club circuit.
It wasn’t long before they began picking up national notoriety for their unique sound.
Weddings gave way to major festivals and national air time on shows such as NPR’s “World Cafe.”
In 2012, the band performed at the White House as part of an Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders event.
“It was a little strange playing to a bunch of people in suits, ties and formal wear, but they loosened up after a couple of songs,” Singh said.
The band has released two full-length studio albums, including its latest, “Shruggy Ji,” an uptempo romp, light on lyrics, but heavy on horns and drums.
Singh hopes to bring that same intensity to the Rialto stage.
“If we can come anywhere close to the energy of that Fishbone show, I’ll be happy,” he said.