Sneaking Through The Alley With Epstein

‘Twas in the 14th century that it came to pass that people began adopting surnames. I remember it well, and it sucked. Now, I had to remember a whole other name; I couldn’t just be ‘Dave’ anymore… no, I had to be ‘Dave Thomas’ — a name I must share with a large percentage of the population. (Go out on any street USA, yell out “Dave Thomas!” and watch twelve people turn around!)

But, I lucked out in Native. Not only were there no other Dave Thomases, there weren’t even any other Daves!

The other guys in the band were not so lucky. We have two Matt’s – Mat Hutt and Matt Lyons. To confuse things further, Mat Hutt only has one ‘t’ in his first name, which makes it real hard to talk to all the other Matt’s in the world when you realize you have to double-t them, possibly reigniting old childhood stuttering traumas. And, as a further aside, Mat was named that way because Hutt has two t’s and there’s only so many to go around. Times were hard in those days and you were only allowed three t’s maximum per name.

Poor John Wood had to bear the agony of sharing his first name with our impish Keyboardist and resident alien (by way of Pluto), John Epstein. There we were, poised for stardom but this name situation could have made it all a cataclysmic failure.

We had a problem, and it wasn’t in Houston.

Our solution was thus: Mat Hutt and Matt Lyons would forevermore be referred to as Mat Hutt and Matt Lyons. Both names, every time. Simples.

John Wood, perhaps in a moment of clairvoyance that there would one day be yet another John in the band, said “Screw it,” and became ‘Woody’, which made things a lot easier.

We were further relieved when John Epstein also dropped his first name. Sometimes folks misspelled it as ‘Jon’, but we were convinced that we’d dodged a bullet, and we called the Pan-like impressario ‘Epstein’ whenever we could.

Sharing no names with anyone, Mike (with easily the most common first name of us all) crossed himself and thanked heaven above when he found there were no other Mike’s in the band. But, then we all just called him ‘Jaimes’ anyway.

Thus, we narrowly avoided the Great Native Naming Confusion-Thing, and there was much rejoicing.

Today, we have an Epstein tune on tap — his rendition of an Allen Toussaint song made famous by Robert Palmer. Recorded January 14, 1994, at the New Music Cafe on the lovely, but smelly, Canal Street — here’s

Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley

Cornbread Wednesday


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