If you don’t risk anything, you’re gonna risk it all

This is Nativology.

Every Wednesday, Cornbread Wednesday, that is, my band, Native posts an unreleased song from our vast underground archives in the Cave of Dave.

I, the just-mentioned Dave, as Archivist, Historian, Rockologist, and all-round Pain in the Ass, do ascribe to scribe some scribbles about said unreleased songs, in the hope that the listener may have some contextual coherency, greater musical understanding, and less of a need to jump out the window.

Music can do that. Especially good music. And, music that is damn good — well, that might actually make you feel like shutting the window, cracking open a tall, frosty one, and telling Ethel to put on that crazy flannel thing with the straps.

Today’s selection hails from the mighty year of 1995, when men were men, and women were getting sick of it.

Mat Hutt is the main songwriter of this piece, and it comes to you today as an unreleased tune for a fine, very understandable reason. But, it’s one we’ve forgotten. Now, armed with the 20/20 hindsight of our 20/20 foresight, we can see that it was more like 20/20 shortsightedness. We rarely played this wonderful song much, and it never really got its’ day in the sunlight; it was left on the shelf like a can of dried tomatoes.

Mat, our chief songsmith, really delved into transcribing and translating our tacit belief that if we put ourselves out there, on the line, performing all the time; if we were perfectly willing to starve in the process & utterly fearless in the face of the vast Dali-esque plane of existence that is an artist’s life (complete with melting watches and Madonnas made of bees), that we would persevere.

To do otherwise, to waste our talent and bend to conventional wisdom, which says: “Get a job, Jerkface. Music is a nice hobby for special people, of which you are not one.”

But, the problem with conventional wisdom is that it is rarely conventional, and never wise.

Mat got it right. Not just for us, but for anyone with talent who dares to throw themselves out there, Candide-like into the sometimes fulfilling, oftentimes uncaring, always-changing Tilt-a-Whirl world a performer faces each night:

If you don’t risk anything, you’re gonna risk it all.

So, I’m going to sing for you

Even If I Fall

Cornbread Wednesday

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A Hot Day in the Studio with John Epstein

In the wintry months of early 1995, Native was in the midst of an extended song-writing period. Our self-titled first album had been out for a year, and it seemed to the band that, as good as it was, the issues we *did* have with it all centered around the fact that we had little control over the aspects of its production. With that in mind, we set about preparing an album we would produce ourselves. And with our ever-growing prowess at songcraft, it was sure to be a far, far better thing we would do than we had done before.

Native was touring quite a lot during this period, as well as enjoying residencies at two NYC clubs — Wetlands on Mondays, and McGovern’s on Wednesdays. With rehearsals on Tuesdays & Thursdays, and longer treks out to the northeast corridor on weekends, we were in our first prime period. We were starting to headline our own shows more & more, and gigs at larger venues like Tramps (opening for the Dixie Dregs) loomed ahead.

In this hothouse period, the band arrived for a session at Marmfington Studio one frosty Thursday wherein John Epstein unveiled his newest song which, in my not-so-humble opinion, ranks easily as his greatest contribution to Native’s catalogue. Considering the freezing New York City winter outside, we were bowled-over by the warmth of both the out-of-context setting (Florida) and the emotions conveyed (love & respect) John so eloquently infused in every measure.

To this day, I find myself amazed at the completeness it had. Usually, the band would work hard to expand on our songs. Mike, especially, was great at coming up with bridges and musical passages. But none of this was needed for this unexpected delight, which went to the top of our shortlist for the projected album due to start in the spring.

Unforeseen events would make that album an impossibility, so now all that exists of this rare song is this demo, recorded live to DAT by John Fitzwater one very, very cold evening.

Hot Day

Cornbread Wednesday

The Return of the Nativology: Call My Name

Nativology Vol. 2 resumes as we harken back to those thrilling days of yesteryear, and explore the songwriting and evolution of Native.

Native toured constantly throughout the nineties. The five core members of the band lived together in a Garment District loft, just steps away from Madison Square Garden. The living environment suited the hothouse atmosphere of creativity that was surging and burgeoning in the nascent psyches of the band.

Everyone was writing tunes and had the luxury of a band at arms’ length to give it a go and see what the darned thing sounded like. Today, we call that Protools, only that software is not programmed to have opinions or tell you that you smell bad.

When John Epstein joined up in late 1993, all attention was given to catching him up on the songs that existed before his entrance, recording an album with two hurriedly-written songs by him, and playing an endless amount of gigs to support the eponymous album.

By the early winter of 1995, all that was done & dusted. It was time for some new tunes.

We already had today’s featured tune on the back-burner, and had done an interesting version of it at Epstein’s old alma mater, the Institute for Audio Research (IAR), in late ’94.

But now, armed with a new Tascam 8-track cassette recorder, we gathered with our live soundman, John Fitzwater, to initiate a series of recordings that would run throughout the Spring of ’95.

This, and the mixes that will follow in the coming weeks, no longer exist in the Native vault in their multi-track form. So, we will be presenting them in all the glory of their original mixes, done by Mr. Fitzwater, with us looking over his shoulder and being really annoying.

Call My Name

Cornbread Wednesday

December Roses (Red)

December Roses (Red) is one of my favorite Native tracks, and it shows that during our final period of writing/recording we were continuing to evolve and improve.

I can’t be all pedantic, impartial, and removed about this one. No amount of objectivity is available to me. When I hear it, it’s like a piece of my very being has been painlessly removed and made palpable.

Joyce Thomas, Dave's mother

My mother, Joyce, in Hollywood in 1950

My Mom had one song that she played on piano — Debussy’s Clair de Lune. I think of her whenever I hear this tune. It’s both the saddest and the happiest song I ever wrote.

December Roses