Midnite, The Jewish Mother, Virginia Beach, VA- 9/26
Photo by Jeremy Sanchez
Midnite, St. Croix’s Roots Reggae kings (spent a 6-year stint in D.C. during the second half of the 90s, as regulars on the scene, before returning home), installed themselves into Virginia Beach’s Jewish Mother for over 3 hours straight, during their first stop at the venue. This is rare, even amongst jambands, but for Reggae bands, 3 hours straight (3 hours, 15 min, with no set break unless you count standing on stage during the two short power issues) is unheard of! The longest set I’ve been in the middle of was when Widespread played during Bonnaroo II, which I heard more than saw my head all in a flurry, but I don’t think they touched 3 and 15. Friends reiterated this same sentiment after the show although we wanted to walk away (bathroom break, bar break, car break) Midnite was too intoxicating to miss a second of.
Midnite has two brothers at its core (Vaughn Benjamin -Vocals and Ron Benjamin Keys/harmony vocals), while the remainder of the band is a rotation of Roots-able musicians. The current band was only formed this past May, but bassist Ryan Wilson, guitarist Jerry Simon and drummer Christian Molinna-Curet are more than ample.
Many Jambands.com readers probably haven’t heard of Midnite, let alone heard them, although they’re well known within the Roots scene. This is one reason I wanted to tape this show, but as with most Reggae bands, was denied. In conversation with Jahboo, the promoter who brought Midnite through, he mentioned that Reggae’s history a theft heavy one has a lot to do with it. And, he’s probably right. Sadly, Reggae’s past is still a hindrance to its present/future. We all know how taping worksI tape a show, GIVE it to friends, who GIVE it to friends and word of great bands are not only spread, but audio can be GIVEN as example. As it is, I can only tell people how great Midnite was tonight, and they were superb, but it’d sure be nice to let them actually hear the live show, after the fact. I understand though – a rocky past sways perception in many ways.
Some of the nicer songs, out of a long list, were “Batter Ram Sound,” “Late Night Ghetto,” which elated the crowd and “Love the Life you Live.” Vaughn’s voice is so soft, yet powerful in word and delivery, while his bro is an energetic springboard behind his keyboards, painting Vaughn’s words with harmony. Midnite is blatantly unapologetic, preaching and giving message all night without a thought of, “could we make radio play?” If they cared, there would be something either commercial sounding in the mix or less lyrically pressing, but everything is simply raw and honest.
Long after I thought a set break might happen, “I am a Bushman,” one of my personal favorites, ended the show. A bushman cares not for Earth’s perception of time, so it was extra appropriate for a band pushing a venue’s and a city’s “last call, so get out” deadlines. Since I get to see these guys so rarely this was actually my first eye to eye with them I would’ve been happy dancing for another hour, but all good things