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An energetic, electric crowd awaited the arrival of Midnite for the “Late Night Ghetto Session” at the B.B.King Blues Club located in the heart of New York City’s Time Square. Appropriately enough, the band hit the stage around midnight, with lead vocalist Vaughn Benjamin and his brother, producer/vocalist/dub arranger Ron Benjamin on bass and keys, accompanied by drummer Christian Molina, guitarists Edmund Fieulleteau and Edwin Byron, and keyboardist Lyndon Williams aka Ras L. As an audience member shouted “Bring It Out!” the band began to play raw instrumentation without any sugar-coating over a pulsating bassline. Orthodox Rasta Crosses draped in red, gold and green moved toward the front of the venue as the musical communion commenced. Interview And Video After The Jump…
As Vaughn Benjamin moved to the center of the stage and began to chant, the audience—having memorized the words of entire songs—committed to every lyric, lifting hands in the air with waves of expression. The shaking of maracas complemented the band as women wearing elaborate head wraps with gold highlights made what sounded like bird calls or the Xhosa language from South Africa adding their own background vocals to the soundscape. The diverse, full-capacity New York City crowd swayed from side to side to the band’s hypnotic rhythms.
Classic Midnite tunes off the band’s 1997 debut album Unpolished, really stood out. The word play of “Love the Life You Live” addressed conscious awareness of one’s lifestyle, beliefs, history, and society’s current status quo:
Midnite Performs “Love The Life You Live”
“Mama Africa,” also off the debut album, was another striking live performance as the audience sang an ode to the continent in unison. Midnite cleverly personified Africa as the Mother of all creation. Furthermore the song addresses violence (including black on black violence), marijuana prohibition, stigmatization of black males—all while promoting love and oneness:
Midnite and fans serenade “Mama Africa”
Delivering profound words of biblical scripture and political insights over roots-reggae beats, Vaughn Benjamin sweated profusely. The soulful singer closed his eyes for a few moments and drew together his coat as if he had triggered epicritic stimuli. Ron Benjamin exchanged smiles with the audience while caressing the bass and the vibes remained powerful as time seemed to stand still. Just then the talented brothers delivered a special gift in their final tune of the night. A new, unreleased song entitled “Israel” left the audience with thought-provoking lyrics and higher heights at the concert closing:
Midnite performs a new, unreleased song called “Israel”
After performing for three hours straight, band members generously welcomed fans to commune with them after the concert backstage. One man shared with Vaughn that he was going through a tough moment in life and that this music was changing his view and uplifting his spirit. Vaughn humbly advised him to “Keep the faith brother.” A woman asked Vaughn to encourage a young male in Kenya by speaking to him directly on the phone. “Greetings and love my brother, keep seeking the kingdom of Jah ” Vaughn said over the phone…the conversation lasts about 5 minutes and the woman expresses her enormous gratitude for this good deed. A man wants the group to review a manual he is writing and shares it with band members. Another woman exclaims that she has been waiting for 7 years for this tour , attended her first Midnite concert at SOB’s in March and will attend her third “tomorrow night in Philadelphia!” She turns to me and adds “every Midnite concert is different so many songs to appreciate ….that “its unpredictable which ones they will sing!” The band spent an hour and a half signing autographs, taking pictures with fans and counseling:
One of the Promoters: Did you see all those White and Asian people shouting “Mama Africa?”
Vaughn Benjamin: “Solidarity… We all come from one place, seen!”
Charlene Wiggins: “Why does the band call itself Midnite and why the satiric misspelling of the word?”
Vaughn Benjamin: “Because the day begins at midnight according to the bible and we want people to pay attention to words and word usage. What words are being used to describe self and others.”
Charlene Wiggins: “What do you say to people that believe the bible is man-made fiction?”
Vaughn Benjamin: “ I believe in biblical scripture. Everything in the word is happening throughout history and now, which is consistent with this word…it’s the most referenced book yet not respected. ”
Charlene Wiggins: “How is the “Lion of Zion” album different from your other albums”
Lyndon Williams aka Ras L: “Our music is evolving with more sophisticated beats and inclusive lyrics in a way that is intriguing our audience”
Charlene Wiggins: “Thank you Midnite band for sharing with Boomshots Magazine and keep up the great work!”
Vaughn Benjamin: “Just keep good relations mongst I and I more time!”
And suddenly it’s closing time. The whole crowd walks out the venue,each person laughing and talking to their neighbor looking like one big family. After, burning the Midnite oil, the New York City Sabbath sun rays beamed over the united crowd.
For more information on Midnite Band: check the band’s official site, as well as www.rastafaria.com
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Great article Char! I grew up in Cruz…so Midnite holds a special, hartical place within my spirit. They are one of the most deeply conscious, metaphysical bands making music now. I give thanks for that! YHVH
Awesome article…Midnite definitely unites u with the universe when they perform…Keep up the excellent work!
That was an excellent article. I really enjoyed reading it and look forward to more from you. Keep up the good work.
As MIDNITE’S Former Manager from 2001 to January 2007~ I am very happy to see Midnite on BB Kings Stage ~ Bringing the Word Sound & Power to Transform Many in A Time Where Gloom & Doom, Distraction News and all manner of things are going on Planet Mother Earth~ There is a Midnite LIGHT to Bring Real Balance within the Self and others~ Music is a powerful force Energy and MIDNITE is a FORCE for Inner Balance a Spark that Moves you into your Inner Being~ I also went to the Concert in Philly which was so so Awesome!!! The Rain which is a Bliss full Element did not stop people from coming out at All !! A international Mix coexisting in Oneness~ Barn Fire Burning keeping the Massive Warm, Organic Food & Drinks, The Supporting Artists all in a Groove~ You felt like you where on an Island~ The Wall Street International Venue held you in that Frequency ~ And After the Concert Vaughn spoke Wisdom until daylight and those who stayed, participated in the Reasoning ~ which was Priceless !!! ~ I Felt Renewed and Happy that I Came and Stayed~ 1 Love~ Kufunya ~
yea i wish i went to the new york show just cause i know they always satisfy there. now i went to the philly show the night after and u could tell that the boys wer exausted, actually the least amount of peeps ive seen at a midnite show, in fact it was so quiet at some points between songs my brother yelled out roll call and they played it and then another song i forget wich one but yea besides the rain it was cool. when i first heard midnite what smacked me in my teeth was the rough and real bass rythm and no ones voice compares to Vaughns i mean lets get serious. ive bin listening to them so long that i can actually sound like him when i sing but i dont see myself finding a band as good as them. but yea if u dont know about Midnite?,….. its time to get schooled!!!! when i picked up a book with the lyrics to the songs on jubilees of zion? WOW!! blown away by the poetry and intelligence of this man . there is no one like him and never will be