2 Tha Bone

7 02 2007

By Jill Ettinger

Bob Marley affected generations of people in many ways. His birthday has become an inspired celebration in dance halls and clubs around the globe. Every February 6th brings irie warmth to the deep freeze of winter. It’s easy to wonder if Jesus commanded greater remembrance in the few short decades after his passing. I tend to shy away from this type of comparison, but it lends itself to the dynamic scope of Marley’s influence. Generations to come will regard his legend as one of prophecy.

On this particular anniversary, I found myself exhausted from a long short trip to Chicago, where I spent the final four hours waiting for my plane to take off from O’Hare. Ice and snow kept us on the runway, and I wasn’t sure if I would ever make it into New York City’s Marley bash at SOB’s with Midnite, one of my favorite reggae bands. As we finally lifted off I took to the air with my own dedication (via ear buds), the Marley catalog blessing me as home grew nearer. (Note to all airlines: playing Bob Marley for your customers at any time during a flight, and especially during a delay, is absolutely acceptable.)

By the time I deboarded, got home and sat down for a minute, the idea of rolling into the city for a late night didn’t impress me. I took a shower, put on pajamas and thought of all the wonderful ways in which I could fall asleep. Midnite and Bob’s memory needed no help from me, as I celebrate them often enough as it is. However, my good brother Michael is in town, serving up healthy beverages throughout town. He called to let me know that a ticket was waiting. The universe had a different plan for me.

On the drive into town I realized this would not be the first Marley celebration Michael and I spent together. Six years ago in Miami we were honored to have been a vendor backstage, sharing space with folks like Burning Spear and Woody Harrelson (and a strange appearance by OJ Simpson that still haunts me). But this night was a much different vibe. A chilling trance fills the packed room. Wafts of pungent smoke erased the airport stresses, and the Saints of St. Croix began to take us deep…I mean deep. Midnite is truly one of the best live bands ever. With their unique taste for roots, they are hypnotic performers, driving heady bass riddims into bones as Vaughn Benjamin’s voice cuts right into parts of the soul you never even knew you had. They are serious, this is big stuff, but they do it with a smile (as lyrics demand introspection and self-evaluation):

You are being programmed and reprogrammed
Watching tell lie vision
Living in a system of pure corruption
They calling it civil lies a shun
What do they have in common ?

Unlike any other reggae band out there, Midnite survives by word of mouth. Their following building stronger as their message more timely than ever. Music, like food, is medicine. When we ingest something of this magnitude, we can’t help but alter our constitutions. Though Marley define reggae culture in the 1960s, it’s obvious that it has been a part of us for much longer. And that, something worth celebrating any day of the year.

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