Sierra Nevada World Music Festival - 2004

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2004 Performers


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SNWMF '04
PERFORMERS

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Hailing from the Island of St Croix, Midnite is one of the most promising roots reggae bands of the millennium. They are vanguards of conscious reggae who represent the King's and Queen's music to the fullness of Jah. Midnite's profound and innovative lyrics are sincere and deeply rooted to present the other half of the story. Their cd recordings and live performances will have reggae and non reggae listeners open to the messages they bring.

Lead singer Vaughn Benjamin's electrifying voice seems an amalgamation of many great voices in reggae--soulful, chanting, edgy. Vaughn's potent lyrical style and his brother Ron's exquisite keyboards and musical directorship form the nucleus of this musical quintet, which includes fellow St. Croix players Dion Hopkins (drums), Philip Merchant (bass) and Abijah (guitar). Midnite weaves the cultural lyrics of "old school" roots music with modern day experiences to create a unique listening encounter. Reggae - naked and raw is an apt description for Midnite's musical style, in which they forgo the frills of extensive remixes, overdubbing and other musical refinements.

"Unpolished" is the suitably named title of their debut album which includes such classics as "Don't Move", "Mama Africa", and "Love the Life You Live". Originally released in 1997, while the band was located in Washington, D.C., this crucial album has recently been made widely available on Rastafaria Recordings and sound clips can be heard at www.rastafaria.com

In 1999, Midnite linked up with Wildchild! Records for their second release "Ras Mek Peace". Incredibly, this album was recorded using only two channels and was mastered without any reverb, filtering, compression or equalization. Songs like "Hieroglyphics", in which graffiti is likened to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, showcase the intelligent songwriting that pervades all of Midnite's works.

Following the release of Ras Mek Peace, Midnite returned to live in St. Croix so that they could work with the local musicians and make recordings at their African Roots Lab without any outside interference. The fruits of these labours can be found on their third album "Jubilees of Zion", which was released on their own independent Afrikan Roots Lab record label. The expansive, hypnotic rhythms continue, alongside the messages of peace, universal brotherhood, and cultural resistance to Babylon.

In 2002, Midnite made their Northern California debut at the 9th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. The combination of Vaughn’s searing lyrics, raw roots music and the warmth of the sun beating onto the masses at the village stage made for a potent and memorable experience for all who were present. That same month saw the release of Midnite’s fourth album "Seek Knowledge Before Vengeance". Released on the Afrikan Roots Lab record label, this album raises the bar of cultural roots reggae, as we know it today.

Midnite explodes in live performances with sets that often exceed 3 hours. Their vigorous, weighty sound, driven by the punchy bass lines creates a vibe that penetrates straight to the heart. These epic musical communions have earned Midnite an enormous following throughout the roots community. This is especially true in St. Croix, Puerto Rico, Brazil, St. Louis and here on the West Coast where they have toured extensively including another rousing aappearance at the 10th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. In the fall of 2003, Midnite released their first dub album "Intense Pressure", which includes some tracks from their prior releases along with some dubs of forthcoming albums.

Earlier this year, Midnite embarked on a hugely successful 12-day tour of California that included appearances at the Bob Marley Day Festivals in Long Beach, San Diego and San Francisco. They also journeyed to Oregon, Washington and Hawaii to bring their message to the people.

Midnite has just released 2 brand new studio albums "Ainshant Maps" on their Afrikan Roots Lab record label and "Scheme A Things" on the Rastafaria label. Midnite has also collaborated with I-Grade Records for three releases: "Nemozian Rasta", "Assini" and the recently released "Vijan". Several members of the band have also released a quartet of albums under the name Midnite Branch I: "Cipheraw", "Geoman", "He Is Jah" and "Project III".

By breaking all the rules, Midnite is setting a new standard. Armed with a firm foundation in Jah Rastafari, their natural talents, and a strong and uncompromising musical vision, Midnite champions a unique sound that is on the cutting edge of modern roots music. It is for this reason that Sierra Nevada World Music Festival is truly blessed to have Midnite come forward for the third consecutive year!!!!

- Mara Weiss & Daniel Frankston  

Midnite Links:

Listen To The Music of Midnite - Track List

Listen To an Interview of Midnite

SNWMF '04

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