two consecutive nights, the massive at Ashkenaz in Berkeley were exposed to the
unique musical communion that is Midnite. Having previously played
to full houses in St. Louis, Seattle, Eugene, Portland and McKinleyville,
Midnite had Monday off before embarking on a 12 date tour of california that will include
appearances at all 3 of the states Bob Marley Day festivals.
Midnite Over Ashkenaz - Berkeley
By the time Midnite took the stage at 10:50 on Tuesday night, the jam packed crowd was
bubbling with anticipation. In scanning the crowd, I noticed a lot of faces
that I had never seen before. Perhaps even more surprising was to see these people
(many of them young white males) singing along to virtually every Midnite song.
For nearly two hours, the band memorized the intense vibes in the audience by laying down
riddims that were slower and more subdued then I had ever previously witnessed. The people
were just soaking in the spirituality. For me, the highlight of that portion of
Tuesdays concert was a gut-wrenching 10 minute version of Foolish & The
Wise. They also did a new selection entitled Freedom and played lots of
selections from Ras Mek Peace.
About 2 hours into the set, the pace
changed and Midnite burst into full stride with Old Robe. Killer versions of
Bushman, Late Night Ghetto, Lioness and Due
Reward followed. Then the band blew me away with an incredible version of
Kings On The Clothes Line. Now, I get goose bumps just typing out the name of
that song. At 2:05, the (still packed) audience had reached the highest heights. As I
watched people leave the club, nearly everybody was saying see you tomorrow
Midnite Over Ashkenaz Berkeley
- Day Two
The crowd at Ashkenaz on Wednesday night was markedly different even though about ½ of
them had attended the night before. Go figure. As soon as the band got on stage, you could
tell it was going to be something totally unlike the night before. The sound in the room
was dramatically improved from Tuesday night. Gratitude, No Rest For The
Weary, True King Spirit, Natty Watching You,
Proceed, Dagger Man, Esta Es The Truth and Great
Zimbabwe Walls were all included in the first hour, which is amongst the best 60
minutes of music I have ever witnessed before. There was also a little more room in the
audience last night, which allowed for people to let the music move their bodies in
addition to their hearts, minds and souls.
One of the things I enjoy most about this
band is wandering through the crowd in order to watch people partaking of the musical
experience of Midnite. For me, it is an experience that is unrivaled in the way that it
cleanses, purifies, invigorates and inspires. I know I am not alone in that regard. If you
were at Ashkenaz last night and had a pulse in your veins, you felt the spirit of Midnite.
And if you still have a pulse in your veins and are anywhere on the West Coast, dont
miss an opportunity to partake in the spiritual union of Midnite. And be on the lookout
for AINSHANT MAPS and SCHEME A THINGS, two amazing new albums by
Midnite that should be out any day now.
continued their musical communion with northern california this past Thursday, Friday and
Saturday night with appearances at 19 Broadway in Fairfax, Veterans Hall in Santa
Cruz and at the Anderson Valley Grange in Booneville.
Midnite over 19 Broadway
I have heard several people comment that Midnite is a band that just gets on stage and
jams. But anyone who was present at 19 Broadway before the music started knows
that nothing could be further from the truth. Upon arriving at the venue, the band was
directed to a drum kit that was sitting on the side of the room. After commenting upon the
drums, the band was informed that there was a better kit upstairs that was
available. Not only did they insist on the better kit, they then proceeded to punch a hole
in the front skin, apply ample amounts of tape and make several other adjustments to get
it sounding just right. The whole scene reminded me of the liner notes to Ras Mek
By the time Midnite was ready to
jam, 19 Broadway was full to capacity with people, many of whom had made the
outing the 2 prior nights in Berkeley. For the next three hours, the indomitable
vibrations of Midnite penetrated into the hearts, minds and souls of all who witnessed
Midnite Over Veterens Hall
The magic which is Midnite headed into Santa Cruz this past Friday to mesmerize the masses
in attendance. For the third consecutive time, every single ticket to see Midnite in Santa
Cruz was sold well in advance of the music starting. Soul Majestic opened the night with a
rousing set that had to be cut short so they could drive to Long Beach for their
appearance there the following day.
At 10:40 the house lights dimmed as
Midnite rolled into Gratitude (Begin The Day). Some like to begin their day by meditating
or reading a bible verse. This song does the trick for me. "Begin your day, by
chasing all evil thoughts away. Begin your day, by leaving bad decisions in
At 2 hours and 40 minutes, this was the
shortest set of all Midnites northern california appearances. Yet still, the music
that night contained no less than 4 of my all time favorite versions of the songs
"Jubilees Of Zion", "True King", "Lioness" and "Roll
Call". Vaughn left all the lyrics I had previously heard for "Lioness"
behind in favor of a soft chant that is seems to be 4 octaves higher than any human can
talk. Ron manages to be right there with his brother, and his primal screams
add amazing depth to Vaughns vocals. Although they played "Lioness" on
three different nights, each time the song had a totally different sound to it. That is
why I am delighted to be able to take in 6 different Midnite concerts in the same week!!!!
Midnite over Anderson Valley
Nestled midway between Cloverdale on highway 101 and the Coast of Mendocino lays
Anderson Valley. Having lived up that way for several years, I would have loved to
have been there to witness Midnite over Mendocino. But unfortunately, I had other
obligations in Long Beach, and so I had to pass on this one in favor of Beres Hammond and
Burning Spear (to name just a few). But I have heard from several people that it was
indeed a show to behold. After some ital food and nyahbinghi drumming by The Tabernacle,
Midnite connected with so many people that, not only was the (huge) parking lot full, cars
were parked along the highway for as far as the eyes could see. And the engineer had some
wicked sound effects going on which gave the entire night a uniquely "dub"
flavor to it. Given the overall success of the evening, I look forward to another night of
Midnite over Mendocino in the months to come.
played in Boonville until nearly 2:00 the previous night, Midnite had to rise with the
morning sun in order to make the long trek to Long Beach for the first of two performances
at the 23rd Annual Bob Marley Day Festival.
Midnite over Long Beach (Bob
Marley Day Festival)
Midnites plane arrived in Long Beach just in time for them to be whisked away and
transported directly to the venue to start their early afternoon set. One might think that
this journey, along with 3 hour concerts each of the prior nights that week, would take a
toll on the band members. Well if it did, they certainly didnt show it.
Midnite made the most of the 40 minutes
allotted to them, ripping out a crucial set that included great versions of "True
King", "Old Robe" and "Israel". And band sounded real tight
throughout the entire set. It is amazing how the five members seem to flow, musically, as
one unit. This is not a five piece band. It is a one piece band with five members.
Midnite over San Diego (Bob
Marley Day Festival)
On the 7th day god may have rested, but I went to another concert
instead. The San Diego Sports Arena, like the venue the prior day, is a hockey/basketball
arena that will hold 15,000 for a concert. Because Midnite had played there the two prior
years, Makeda Dread knew better than to schedule them for early in the day.
By the time Midnite came on, there were
over 10,000 people ready to absorb the moment. The band came straight out with 4
incredible tunes: "Gratitude", "Israel", "Freedom" and
"True King". I know Ive mentioned "True King" a great deal
during this journey, but that song just seems to grow and grow each time they deliver it.
But the greatest treat for me, was
getting to see Dezaries set earlier in the day. Having only gotten a tease last year
(3 songs), I was grateful for the 30 minutes of blessings she bestowed on her listeners.
Dean Pond and Ryan Wilson provided the drum and bass, with Abijah on guitar and Ron
Benjamin on keyboards and vocals.
Dezarie paused during a remarkable
delivery of "Strengthen Your Mind" to remind the people: "In these times,
it is your mind that you have to strengthen. Your mind is above your body, and rules
everything. Before you do anything that you do, you think, right? So just strengthen
She did excellent versions of "Gone
Down", "Slew Dem An Done" and "Gracious Mama Africa" from her
newest album. But when Dezarie hit those incredibly high notes on "Queen Omega"
it sent quivers throughout my body. All music promoters and roots music lovers out there:
BEWARE - Dezarie is putting together a West Coast tour for this summer. If you miss out on
the chance to bring her to your town, or to see her when she passes through, it will be
Also appearing at the San Diego Bob
Marley Festival was fellow St. Croix artist Army. Maximum respect to Makeda Dread and the
World Beat Center for having the strength and courage to bring Midnite to the festival for
the past 3 years, Dezarie for the past 2 years, and Army this year.
After their appearances at the Long Beach and
San Diego Bob Marley Day Festivals, Midnite went on to do concerts in Nevada City, Fresno
and Lake Tahoe that I was unable to attend due to other commitments. I was, however,
blessed to be able to make their final California appearances in Sacramento and at the San
Francisco Bob Marley Day Festival.
Midnite over Sacramento
In spite of the fact that I had seen them 6 times the previous week, I wanted more
Midnite. I knew that their concert in S.F. would be a brief set, so I decided to drive up
to Sacrademento. Having heard some bad things about the acoustics in the Raddison
Hotels Grande Ballroom, I wasnt expecting much from the sound. But
upon arriving, I found it to be okay, especially towards the front of the room. The crowd
on hand was pretty good considering that this states capital is not exactly a reggae
Midnite rolled through a 2:10 set that felt like it lasted an hour, and contained tons
of new materials. It seems that many evening at around 8:30 I find my self wondering how I
will be able to stay on my feet until 2 a.m. By 9:30 or 10:00 I may be exhausted, but as
soon as the Midnite vibes get moving all those feelings disappear. Their music is
invigorating. Their music is instructional. Their music is inspiring. Their music is
whatever you allow it to be.
Midnite Over San Francisco
The final night of the San Francisco Bob Marley Festival featured
Groundation, Midnite and The Wailers. By the time Midnite came on, The Warfield Theatre
was almost filled with an audience that was noticeably older and whiter than most reggae
concerts in San Francisco. I presumed that this was because the event drew a lot of
old-time Wailers fans. Midnite proved me wrong.
Throughout their all-too-short 75 minute set, virtually the entire crowd was singing
along on all of Midnites foundations songs. Perhaps all those Wailers fans have all
come to appreciate what Midnite brings to the people through the music. It is not a
performance. It is not an act. Just pure roots music to the bone.
And I am always amazed at how Midnite is able to opening people up so they
experience something that is much deeper than just a concert.
I try to live my life to the fullest. To breathe in the experiences that life has to
offer. Such encounters till the soils of my soul and keep me alive. If I never again get
to experience the magic of Midnite, I will forever be enriched by what they have brought
to me, through their kingly music. I give thanx for each day at Midnite. I give thanx for