By late summer 1996, Native was either gigging, recording, or rehearsing nearly every day of the week. We were on an incredible ride thanks to our manager’s, Paul Ducharme’s, growing contact list, and the various NYC clubs where we had built relationships where they just automatically booked the band on a monthly, bi-monthly, or (in the case of McGovern’s Bar on Spring Street, near the Hudson River) weekly residencies.
McGovern’s was such a special place for us. The owner, Steve Greenberg, had befriended Dave in the pre-Native days, and was soon to become a faithful comrade of everyone in and around Native, providing gigs in our earliest days, and support in ways that helped us survive those early days — indeed, both Mike Jaimes and Mat Hutt tended the bar, and John Fitzwater ran the sound system, when they needed cash to pay their bills and feed their faces.
In many ways, it was home base to us in the same way Marmfington Farm was, and it cannot be said strongly enough that without Steve’s belief in us, and all his good will, and support — we may not have been able to keep going.
As it was, we were able to do more than keep going, we were developing new music at a mercurial pace, and it was during this period that we abandoned making demo tapes and just started playing the new stuff each Wednesday. We found that a positive audience reaction to a song was worth more than listening to the tapes a thousand times. Our night was soon dubbed ‘Cornbread Wednesday’ and it was almost always the highlight of our week (and, the tradition of showcasing new music continues to this day in
this very blog upon which you now gaze adoringly).
Another fixture of McGovern’s was an old-timer who sat at the end of the bar at each and every gig. His name escapes me now, but it doesn’t matter really…. every bar has an old guy like him. Sipping mixed drinks and scowling in a way that makes you think they are not enjoying themselves very much. And yet, next time you play that club, there he is, sitting in the same spot, telling stories about stuff that happened before you were born.
Today’s tune is Mat Hutt’s tribute to that old guy, and all the others like him. We had put it on the Live From Marmfington Farm, Vol. 1 album earlier that year in a version recorded at Wetlands, but this one is from the place were it originated — McGovern’s. I like to think that the old guy is still sitting at that bar, telling war stories, complaining about how awful everything is, and profanely proclaiming —
Smitty! Or Smithy.