There are a lot of great singers in this talent-filled world, but one thing we all agreed on in Native, was that Catherine Russell was our favorite singer. Catherine had briefly been in a band with Dave and Mike, before the Native epoch began in 1992 a.d. Dave had seen her singing with a cover band in Greenwich Village, and was wowed by her powerful voice, and marveled at how such a big sound could emanate from such a petite lady. But, it was her performance on several Meters tunes that sent him scurrying to curry favour, convinced she was destined for the big time. And, besides… Meters tunes. (The Meters are a constant factor in the Native chronology, but Dave & Mike were already playing quite a lot of their material.) She agreed against all better judgement to come down to The Radon Room, Dave’s studio on Mott Street, and meet this motley assemblage called The Illbillies (aside from Dave & Mike, there was Craig Robison, Sean Pace, and Grant). Catherine played with the band for a few weeks, and we have some pretty great tapes in the vault from this time-period. But sadly, she then decided that although she liked us all personally, we were indeed quite motley, not just in appearance, but in our playing. We just weren’t tight. But, she encouraged us to keep going, and we did. The Illbillies would burn through two more singers before calling it a day without ever playing one gig. Chastened by the gigless end to that band’s journey, Mike & Dave intrepidly trudged onward, recording a demo of a song that had been a stalwart entry at every Illbilly rehearsal – Dave’s Something Worth Remembering (as heard on Nativology Vol. 1). And with that, history was written in lighting! In the coming years, Native got tight, and Catherine returned for the occasional guest spot in our shows, and they were all a highlight. Believe it, when she sings, it’s magic time! Our favorite singer – Her Royal Majesty – a true Lady of Soul – the ever-amazing Catherine Russell.
This was surely one of the best shows at Wetlands w/ Catherine -the fans-the sound- ALL the vibes just bouncing off the walls mixed together with the onstage; playful banter between Mat and C.R.-such an ethereal memory-a wonderful time had by all present; magically delicious!