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St. Croix’s Midnite
Returns to Taos

Roots & Wires Presents internationally
acclaimed roots reggae stars
By Ariana Kramer


Where: Anglada’s Building
736 Kit Carson Road
              Taos, NM
(575) 770-2467
When:  Monday, Nov. 8, 2010

“They are like no other reggae artists ever,” says John Henderson of Roots & Wires Presents. Henderson first heard Midnite about eight years ago, and he was hooked.

Roots & Wires Presents has brought the St. Croix roots reggae group back to Taos on a regular basis since then. Midnite will return Monday (Nov. 8) for an all-ages show at Anglada’s Building, 736 Kit Carson Road. Be prepared to be transported.

“This band is truly an international phenomenon,” gushes Henderson. “Their lead singer Vaughn Benjamin is revered as prophetic and they play reggae like no one else on earth. Taos has deeply embraced this band and the feeling is mutual. They always take a day off when they are here because they love to be in Taos. They are on a world tour and, in fact, are coming to Taos straight from Rio de Janiero, Brazil.”

Vaughn Benjamin has been praised for his electrifying voice and potent lyrical style. His brother, Ron Benjamin, adds vocals, keyboard and bass and a keen sense of arrangement. Henderson says the two brothers have an uncanny sense of the other, a kind of extra-sensory perception which makes possible unbelievable onstage improvisations of unfolding magic.

The brothers are joined by Christian Molina (drums), Edmund Fieulleteau (guitar), Edwin Byron (guitar) and Ras L (keyboards). The band’s members are all family — they live together, tour together, produce their own music and market themselves. Their sound is recognized the world over as the sharp new edge of reggae roots music.

Midnite has an impressive collection of albums to date. Unpolished is the title of their 1997 debut album which includes such classics as “Don’t Move,” “Mama Africa,” and “Love the Life You Live”. In 1999, Midnite produced “Ras Mek Peace” with Wildchild! Records. Recorded with only two channels and very little manipulation, it features “Hieroglyphics,” a song that compares modernday graffiti to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Following the release of “Ras Mek Peace,” Midnite returned to St. Croix to work with local musicians and record at their African Roots Lab. Under their own label, they have released “Jubilees of Zion,” an exploration of peace, universal brotherhood, and cultural resistance to Babylon, as well as “Seek Knowledge Before Vengeance.”

Midnite’s music is spiritual. The band members are all devout Rastafarians, and their music reflects Rastafari themes of hope, redemption and peace among all peoples.

For those unfamiliar, the Rastafari ideology and movement began in the 1930’s. Rising from the extreme poverty and despair of Jamaica’s Christian communities, Rastafari is considered not so much a religion, as a way of life — a way that can include vegetarianism, renouncing alcohol and smoking marijuana for spiritual cleansing, belief in one divinity (Jah) who is also the Holy Trinity and the transformative powers of music and dance.

Haile Selassie I (1892–1975) was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930-74 (some believe he never died). He is believed by Rastas (aka Rastafarians) to be the reincarnation of Jesus, and an incarnate form of Jah. Salassie was himself an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. Some Rastas understand their movement as Protestant Christianity or Judaism.

Reggae artist Bob Marley was a Rastafarian. Legend has it that King Solomon gave the Queen of Sheba a ring possessing special powers. The ring bore the lion of Judah (a tribe of Israel) and Solomon intended that the Queen pass it down to their children. Selassie inherited a ring matching this description.

He gave it to Marley who said the ring burned when he wore it on his finger. As the tale is told, the ring was buried with Bob Marley. Whether you groove with Rastafari ideology or dance to a different drum, it is easy to drink from the cup of universal love — a cup that Rastafarians have been filling up and pouring out to the world ever since Bob Marley and the Wailers started holy rolling. Midnite keeps that legacy alive.

The explosive, hypnotic, and heart-opening qualities of their music have earned Midnite an enormous following throughout the world’s roots community, and beyond. Midnite’s show starts at 7 p.m. with a reggae set spun by Santa Fe’s DJ Safiyah. Tickets are $20 in advance at Vibrations, 102C Paseo del Pueblo Norte; or TaoSound, 314F Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

Call (575) 737-9394 to charge by phone. Tickets will be $23 at the door. Kids under 12 get in free for this all ages show. For information, call (575) 770-2467. For those who work in the morning, Midnite is known for long shows.

One of their Taos concerts at Herb’s Lounge lasted until 1:30 a.m. So take your nap, buy your ticket, and with respects to the late, great Jimi Hendrix, get ready to be experienced.

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