Letters From California

After a furious six months of writing, recording, and gigging – Mat Hutt joined his family in California, where they had already relocated, in June, 2001.

At the time, we didn’t see it as an end, but rather a new aspect of Native‘s trajectory. We continued working on our ambitious two-record set, with producer John Fitzwater, we continued to put out band newsletters, we had plans. We never considered ourselves ex-members of this extraordinary band, and we still don’t to this day.

To that end, Mat was working on new songs in the sunny climes of northern Cali. He sent us a tape that sounded promising, and we added it to the queue of tunes we intended to develop.

However, when Mat returned for a week to delve into the project in August, there was so much to do that we never got around to those tunes. Indeed, they have languished as lonely orphans in our vault – the least listened-to songs of our 10-year run.

Until now.

Today’s selection finds Mat pondering the life of a simple local man he’d seen at a school crossing. Something about the man’s lonely existence must have clicked a button, because this is one of Mat’s most heart-felt lyrics.

Even in its nascent, never-to-be-fully-realized state, Mat really puts it across about what it must be like to be an —

Invisible Man

Cornbread Wednesday

 

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Native’s Anti-Drug War Song

Native‘s tunes are mostly about the usual song-type subjects – love, loss, hurting, joy, lying – we plowed those fields real good!

We never made the conscious decision to avoid politics, and issue-related subjects; writing from the heart is just how we roll. But, every great once in a while, Mat Hutt would take on a topical issue and address it in a song.

The first time was a little tune called I Am, which Mat wrote before Native officially constellated (and, in true Native perverseness, it appeared practically last on our records!).

The next one, by my count, came years later when he faced the issue of the harsh drug laws that have filled the prisons of America, and stigmatized even more folks, senselessly.

Writing the tune, Mat put himself in the place of someone who has just been put behind bars, and in so doing, he was able to feel that prisoner’s pain. The feeling he was left with was that this soul might have been imprisoned for only a few hours, but he or she has already lost something sacred – innocence.

And For What? There is absolutely no excuse for the extreme drug sentencing that has gone on for decades; that has saddled a generation with undeserved criminal records; that has crippled the courts and prisons; and has sapped a nation of something that same sacred innocence.

We were proud to play the tune, and it became a setlist favorite with great alacrity.

This song would be one of the last we recorded as a band. Indeed, Mat had relocated to the great state of California almost immediately thereafter. We were left with a great, but unfinished track. So………….

Mike Jaimes stepped up and did something quite amazing ; something that had never happened on any other Native recording – he wrote a horn arrangement!!

Mike’s dad – Oscar – was a horn arranger, and a deft musical talent, so it really should not have been so surprising when he did it – but, it was!

He contacted the super-talented trumpet-man, Richard Boulger, who was playing with The Allman Brothers at the time, and brought him in for a session – singing the parts he wanted Richard to play.

It was beautiful, and I was the only witness to this singular moment in Native history – basically the only time that Mike took charge of anything. But, he knew what he wanted, and it came off perfectly – all I had to do was fiddle with the knobs on the mixing board.

But, to hear those lovely horns with Richard playing all the parts, you have to go to our excellent record, And Then What. Today’s offering is the track the way it sounded when we ran that session – and it’s pretty excellent, too!

Jailtime