Musician Frankie Midnight always looks at the bright side. He grew up in a rough part of Miami Gardens, but good music was always playing throughout his neighborhood. He doesn’t own a car, but waiting for the bus inspired his upcoming one-man concert/theatrical show hybrid, A Fool’s Love Stories.
He had been kicking around ideas for an album before he was invited to take part in the drama series Miami Motel Stories. Presented by Juggerknot Theatre Company, MMS was an immersive theatrical experience at Little Havana’s historic Tower Hotel. Actors performed scenes throughout the hotel while the audience roamed from room to room to catch each scene.
“My performance was pretty much me playing myself,” Midnight says. “I was renting a room while stopping through the town that I was performing at, and I was on my way to see my love.”
Midnight already knew how to interact with an audience, but the audience being invited to interact, even interrupt, a performance was completely new. He’s a musician, not a Def Jam comic.
“It was probably the third show where I had a heckler. This person must have drank before they came because they just kept shouting out requests,” Midnight says. “And I couldn’t break character so I had to incorporate one of the songs he was requesting and fold that back into my story. It was that moment when I realized that I want to take this idea and make something up.”
Midnight honored the heckler’s request and in doing so got the audience on his side. It had nothing to do with the show, but they started singing along. What did the heckler want to hear?
“I was talking about Trick Daddy in my bit, growing up in Miami Gardens and that Trick Daddy was one of the artists we played a lot. I didn’t know he would request this song: ‘Ah-hah, okay, whassup? Shut up,’” Midnight laughs, reciting lyrics to Trick's "Shut Up."
After Miami Motel Stories finished its run, Midnight saw promise in both telling stories about his day-to-day life and the intimacy of speaking directly to an audience about those stories. It’s more or less the same concept of his performances in Little Havana but expanded.
“I could leave the room,” he says of his upcoming show. “Now you could see me on the bus stop and I’ll walk you through my past relationships and sing a few songs.”
For the show, Midnight wanted to make music he describes as “upbeat and wacky,” unlike the contemporary music he sees now. He wants to make fun, offbeat music that can resonate with people.
“I don’t want to make foreign music where you listen to it and you don’t really understand what it’s about,” he says. “I hear a lot of music with a good beat but you can’t really relate to it.”
It all comes back to his looking at the bright side of things. The centerpiece of A Fool’s Love Stories, the song that crystallizes what the show is about, came from simply waiting for a bus on the way to see his girlfriend.
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“That song is about being in love and the only thing that matters to me is having my bus pass and my phone bill so I could talk to my girl,” Midnight says. “Politics, religion, none of that matters.”
That song, “Communication Transportation,” isn’t Midnight’s favorite in the show, but it’s the one that most resembles a slice of his life: He doesn’t own a car, but he’s in a five-year relationship; he’s in Miami Gardens and his girl lives way down in Cutler Bay.
“It could be a downer to not have a car and not be able to see your girl whenever you want,” Midnight says. “Instead of letting my situation depress me, I’m just gonna make a show out of it. Maybe people could enjoy it. If not, I got a chance to vent about it.”