The Year of the Mat

By May of 1993 Native had been gigging and writing relentlessly for almost a year. Woody had joined in December of  ’92 and we hadn’t wasted a moment’s opportunity since then to work, develop, and move ahead.

No one worked or developed or moved ahead harder or faster than Mat Hutt. Having taken on the mantle of lead singer and frontman, he threw himself into the role. Plus, he was booking the gigs and was quickly becoming the band’s main songwriter. It was in this period that he and Woody really started to click as harmonizers.

It was an electric time to be in the band, I was thrilled to be part of it and challenged by the high standards we’d set for ourselves. There aren’t many live tapes from this period as we wanted to avoid having what we thought might be embarrassing performances enshrined in granite around our necks. We needn’t have worried. The few tapes extant from early ’93 show a band growing both musically and in confidence with every performance.

We’d landed regular weekly gigs at McGovern’s and Wetlands – gigs that would run for years and garner us our faithful and fervent following. Mike was blowing minds on a daily basis and Mat was the ringmaster for what was becoming a juggernaut. We couldn’t believe we were making money doing this!!!

The time had come to make a studio recording of our best new songs. And by studio I don’t mean our Radon Room but a real proper studio.

We didn’t find one. But what we did find turned out to be just the right place at the right time, with the right engineer.

My buddy and drum teacher, Todd Turkisher, was playing with Baba Olatunji and had a small project studio conveniently located two blocks away and on May 5 Native recorded five songs there — Carried Away, Heavy-Hearted, Tell Me The Truth, Water, and Island. Only the last two ever had a finished mix done (Water is track 15 in Nativology). Of the other three tracks, there were various reasons for their unfinished status – Carried Away was a bit of a frantic, harried performance, and I claim responsibility. I would quickly thereafter simplify the beat and thus render the studio version obsolete. Tell Me the Truth and Heavy-Hearted were completed in 1995, and will pop up in this chronology in future posts.

That leaves Island, which was our newest in a long line of water-related songs (hey, we just like water as a subject!). It was an instant Native classic, and would serve as our audition-tape which was sent to venues for booking. It did its job, too. We were booking lots of gigs on the strength of this mighty ode to small bodies of land surrounded by The Sea.

So, here it is — Todd Turkisher’s June 3, 1993 mix of Island v.1

Cornbread Wednesday* * *

Editor’s Note: Today is the birthday of our marvelous drummer, songwriter, and band historian, Dave (who is almost solely responsible for the fact that more Native is available to you now). Happy birthday Hollywood Thomas!!! Thank you for spearheading this project and may all of your endeavors bring people such joy.

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