Nativology: Digging through the Native Vault

Hippie Urban Funk is how Native’s sound is oft described.

But Native was so much more than that — everything they were listening to at the time became a part of their sound. The big ticket influences: The Beatles, The Meters, and The Grateful Dead, could easily switch tracks into realms as diverse as Sun Ra at his most out-there, to Buck Owens’ Buckaroos at their Buckarooniest.

For nigh on ten years, Native toured the northeast relentlessly, wrote, rehearsed and recorded constantly, and lived furiously… with fun being the better part of the equation. That translated directly to their demo tapes, which will be the subject of this examination of their vault.

Formed by Mat Hutt, Mike Jaimes, Matt Lyons, Dave Thomas, and Anthony Balsley in the Spring of 1992, when they convened with a series of late-night jams in a deep underground studio on Mott Street, near Chinatown NYC they shared with The Spin Doctors & others.

A testing-of-the-waters gig was arranged in Mat’s home town of Bar Harbor, Maine, and followed with a steady stream of shows at New York nightspots, mainly Nightengale Bar in the Village, Ruby’s on the upper east side, the newly-opened Wetlands in Tribeca, and the place we would call home-base for several years, McGovern’s Bar on Spring Street.

Anthony departed after six months, but John Wood showed up and played, and never stopped playing. Native quickly developed from sounding like a disparate collection of individuals into a unified whole. Paul Ducharme soon came aboard as Manager.

Over the years, Native was joined by a succession of fine keyboardists: John McGann, John Epstein, John Watts, and the ever-gregarious Chris Wyckoff., all will be featured in this excursion.

Now, guided by Dave Thomas, we’ll delve into that journey, when Native became an ‘it’, a band, as we listen to the multi-track demo’s they made during their heyday. Think of these as bonus tracks to the official albums (all available on the Bandcamp link, as well as iTunes and most other mp3 sites).

This will all lead up to the release of Native’s last studio recordings, December Roses, to commemorate the anniversary of Woody joining and thus creating the core-quintet – the heart of Native for the next decade.

Native’s sound men: Robert Smith, and John Fitzwater engineered them on primitive 20th Century equipment, variable sound quality is to be expected.
This should be a lot of fun! So stay tuned as we travel through the history of Native, and don’t forget…

Drinky, Drinky, Smokey, Smokey!!

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