And Then What? Another Mellow Mat Song!

Anyone who knew Mat Hutt, during his heyday in the Native Epoch (1992-2001), knew that he was a very, very, very mellow dude — except, of course, when he was awake.

Mat was the driving force behind Native, co-founder, lead singer, primary songwriter, front man, bon vivant, party animal, chief weed inspector, and resident alien.

As such, he had the hardest job in the band – the rest of us might be snoozing in the van, but Mat was always wherever the action was, always hanging our fans, friends, and krevelers. His responsibilities were massive, and never-ending – co-ordinating set lists, and band rehearsals, running the shows, and teaching the band the songs.

Today’s morsel of mellow comes from just such a typical week in the Native timeline – sometime in late 2000. We were planning a new album, And Then What, even as we knew our time as a working band was coming to an end – but, never did he flag in his drive and committment. Mat’s creativity kept rolling on!

The tape shows us that Mat was the first one in the practice space, working out the chords to a new tune, as soundman and album co-producer John Fitzwater faffs about with the recording levels.

A short time later, the band (minus Chris Wyckoff, who is in abesentia) delves into a version of the same tune, and we can barely hear it, but Mike Jaimes is working out some very interesting guitar licks, even in this nascent, and singular performance.

Never wouldst we return to this tune, indeed, we also went over another promising song that day – one of my tunes, Stone In The Sun – and similarly left it behind with only one attempt to mark it’s place in annals of man’s greatest achievements.

(An aside: I recorded a version of Stone In The Sun shortly thereafter, with Grasshopper Dave Hamburger on bass, and with great alacrity it was finished this year! You can hear it performed by my band The Beatitudes here .)

Mat had a whole heaping pile of songs to wade through in this frantic period, and this as-yet-unnamed tune is testament to the quality he brought to his songcraft.

And, when he wanted to be – Mat Hutt could be quite mellow.

Mat’s Mellow 2

Cornbread Wednesday

Polishing Diamonds

And Then What was planned as an album, knowing that it would be our last one. We wanted to get all the latest material, developed during Chris Wyckoff‘s reign on keyboards, circa 1997-2000.

But, we also wanted to do a few tracks of songs that had fallen between the cracks, so to speak. As seen in this Nativology series, we left a lot of songs on the cutting room floor.

Good songs, we were thinking, as with today’s entry, which we offer as proof that we were a very good band in the studio -tight, but without rigidness, or semblance of restraint.

Listen to how Mike, knowing he will redub his guitar later, plays around with several musical ideas and motifs, switching like a gadfly from one to the next.

And then there Mat Hutt‘s startling- spine-tingling, powerhouse vocal!

Mat really dug deep when he wrote the song, based on an experience from some year’s hence, but no less painful for time’s passage.

In this passionate take, Mat summons up everything he was feeling when he wrote it, and in the process gives us one of his best-ever performances!

This song would see it’s final form take shape during the sessions at Marmfington Farm in 2005, when Mike would finally redub his guitar, Woody would add his harmony, Chris would add piano, and Dave would roll the doobies!

But, here it is in the rough mix John Fitzwater did the day we recorded it in late 2000.

Diamonds

Cornbread Wednesday

Native gets Down… Really Down!

Being a member of Native is kind of like being from the sixties – if you can’t remember it, you know you were there!

As curator of the vast Native Tape Vault, I am constantly coming up with nice little rarities that I was unaware existed, or had forgotten about. Of course, once I’ve found a rare item, the old brain cells kick in and start pumping out a data stream of zero’s and one’s. Mostly zeros.

But, this much I do know about today’s audio offering —

It was a mix of a song we had demoed twice in 1992, first with Anthony Balsley (our original lead singer). In December of that year, after Anthony left the band, Mat Hutt worked with sound engineer, Rob Smith, to cut new vocals over the same backing track. A remix of this session has already appeared on Volume 1 of this Nativology series.

But, today’s track is different enough that we think it worthy of your precious time and sweaty ears. Here’s why —

As we prepared our album, And Then What, the first thing we did was get really stoned. The second thing we did was review old, unreleased songs that might make the cut. Indeed, two songs included were from those earlier, smoke-enshrouded years – I Am and Tell Me The Truth.

Why this beauty remained unfinished and left to languish in our vault is a mystery. Probably time constraints were a factor.

We had planned a double-cd release, but time ran out in June 2001, and we only had about enough for an album and a half when Mat moved to California. (Later that year, all work to complete the tracks was abandoned in the wake of 9/11.)

But, for a brief moment, this gem was deemed a contender, and this instrumental mix was prepared by John Fitzwater in the waning days of 1998. It needed new Mat Hutt & Woody Wood vocal tracks, some percussion and Chris Wyckoff’s keys, which it never got. What it does have are some amazing and awesome guitar parts by Mike Jaimes and Mat, and it contains a solo that is all angst and guitar fury – Jaimes in all his unfettered 1992 glory, playing his legendary Gibson Mary Ford guitar, with all its toggle switches!

Fitz’s splendid work on the mix (with very limited equipment) shows how good this would have sounded on the record.

So, kick back with a Nutella Daiquiri and enjoy a very rocking and jamming instrumental mix, and one of the few things in our vault with both of our soundmen’s fingerprints on it (other than a certain blow-up doll!).

Down (No Vox, Fitzmix – 1998)

Cornbread Wednesday

And Then What? Mat Gets Mellow!

This week’s goodie from the Native Cookie Jar is a sterling example of what I’ve been saying about this period in our evolution as a band – that we were getting better and better as songwriters (as borne out by the Cookie Jar – which just keeps giving and giving).

Mat Hutt, more than any of us, was always brushing up on his songcrafting skills, which by this time were Mad Songcrafting Skills!!

Case in point – this lovely piece was recorded very quickly by John Fitzwater on our brand-spanking new Protools rig, using a single microphone – and, just as quickly, it was lost in the shuffle of all the great material we were coming up with for the next album.

We had a saying in Native – “I’ll be mellow when I’m dead.”

And Mat, party animal that he was, lived up to that credo as well as any of us. He could work all day, party all night, jam till the cows came home, and still find time to come up with this inexpressively pretty piece of wonderful, evocative, enchantment.

With that, there’s not much else to say – only Mat knows what the vocal melody might have been, or what the title was!!!

Fitz simply called it, rather aptly —

Mat’s Mellow

Cornbread Wednesday

And Then What – Episode 4 – Beat Generation

Nineteen hundreds and ninety-nine ones – add them together and you get one of the craziest years on record —

Massive earthquakes killed tens of thousands in Turkey.

Two sitting presidents (American & Russian) were under impeachment trials.

John F. Kennedy, Jr., Stanley Kubrick, and Joe DiMaggio passed away.

Y2K fears had gripped the world in a paroxysm of fear.

Taylor Swift was born.

It was a crazy year.

For us who were stuck in this thing called The Music Business – we had gone beyond crazyville, and it was scary times indeed – corporate mergers had left Universal with 25% of the marketshare, which was confined to about three musical acts, all of whom were named Britney Spears.

For Native – the dream of a record deal had turned into a reality where we had been judged by the men in suits to have too much variety — we crossed genres, we experimented with new styles, and we failed to follow the dictates of the marketplace. In short, we had evolved into something the corporate heads didn’t want, and we did not want to change – we liked being Native.

So, we followed Prince’s dictate, instead. But, not only did we party like it was 1999, during 1999, we would continue to do so right up until our last gig at Wetlands in late spring 2000. It was an on-going party at Marmfington Farm, night and day, seven days a week, in perpetuity.

Amazingly, whilst partying our selves silly, we also were often sat in our studio, working out new songs. Today’s tune is one I hadn’t finished the lyric for when this rehearsal took place. Perhaps, I was weary of all the bad news, I had regressed back to my college days, and my love of Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassidy, and the San Francisco Beats. Now, I was about to rhyme Ferlinghetti with confetti.

All I know is that during that tumultuous year — having this on a tape to listen to gave us a lot of joy, and it went on to be one of the best tracks on the highly under-rated Native album – And Then What.

(BTW – we know Taylor Swift wasn’t born in 1999, that would make her fourteen, and we all know she’s sixteen!)

Beat Generation

Cornbread Wednesday

And Then What – Episode 3 – Annabelle

Today’s lost Native song comes from an extremely fertile period in our evolution. This was supposed to be the part where we were breaking up, and yet we were writing songs faster and furiouser than ever!

Case in point – if you listen to this amazing song, recorded live at Wetlands, you will be asking a very pertinent question — How, in the name of all that is good and worthy did Native not make an official recording of this great tune????

The answer is rather prosaic – we had more than we could handle. We knew Mat Hutt was moving away, and that would be the end of the band, so we spent six months trying to jam in as many songs into the digital domain as we could – but there just wasn’t enough time!

(And this is why I’ve always maintained that we never really broke up, we just lived too far apart to do any playing!)

As it turned out, working with our Producer, John Fitzwater, we laid down enough tracks to compile an album and a half – and that’s what became And Then What (finally released in 2006), and our EP – December Roses (2012). Both are featured on our Bandcamp site, which you will be whisked to in a blink of an eye when you follow the magic linky thing below —

Annabelle (Wetlands 1-10-99)

Cornbread Wednesday

The Long Road To ‘And Then What’ – pt 2 – Zozo

Why you want to be the one who comes and darks out all the sun?

Well, quite!

Who wants to be that person? You know, the one who shows up at a party and bums everybody out?

No one knows the answer to this timeless question. But, we do know that we had some timeless parties at Marmfington Farm – better known to friends and foes as The Loft.

No one is sure who Mat Hutt was talking about in this song, and so it’s probably safe to assume it’s you. Which is what many of us did. Certainly, I did.

I was always convinced was about me, as I could be rather thorny at times. But, the argument that it could be any of countless other folks is a cogent one. I can surely think of several other suspects.

Whoever it’s about, Mat has always kept it under his hat, in a closet, under a pile of old, embarrassing jumpers.

All I know for sure, is — this recording from Wetlands, in January 1999, is the first time we played it, and it’s a great song. (And if it’s about me – I take no offense.)

Or, as Groucho so touchingly put it —

It’s better to have loved and loft, than never to have loft at all.

Zozo (Wetlands 1-10-99)

Cornbread Wednesday

The Long Road To And Then What! Part One

If you are puzzled by this week’s blog title – it refers to Native’s biggest, most ambitious album project. The title, And Then What, was derived from something once said by Sam Hutt (Mat’s dad – better known as Hank Wangford), whilst on a visit during the early days of Native’s existence.

We were watching a serial (you know, the pre-television episodic cliffhangers that thrilled movie audiences in those days of yore when everything was better?), I believe it was Dick Tracy, starring the great Ralph Byrd, made by my favorite studio – Republic Pictures.

In the serial, there was a moment where the evil ringleader of The Spider Gang, tells a henchman something like this – “Go down there, catch that guy, then take him to the river and drown him.” The incredibly compliant henchman nods in obeiance, and off he goes on his murderous task.

Sam’s cogent question was, “Why do the henchmen never say ‘And then what?'”

We had not yet recorded our first record, but the long road to And Then What began at that moment.

Jump cut to early 1999, Native has been touring for a year in support of our second studio album, Exhale On Spring Street (on which we churlishly got Sam’s credit for Wild Atlantic Sea wrong!), Keyboardist and botany expert Chris Wyckoff had settled in as a full member of the band, Woody had built a spiffing studio for us to rehearse, and the often-acerbic John Fitzwater had outfitted that space with a Pro Tools set up.

We were now fully capable of producing our next album, and had built up a large reservoir of new material, so we immediately set to work with surprising alacrity and slothfulness.

One of the very first songs we undertook was written by your humble narrator, and played with great vigor by my bandmates.

I don’t remember writing it, but the lyrics are at variance with those on my own demo of the song, so there must have been an great deal of collaboration on it, which I assume I enjoyed.

Get ready for quite a few more oddities like this in the next few week’s thrilling chapters – we wrote way more than what ended up on the album, and like this submission, the material was very strong, and the henchmen were compliant, and unquestioning.

(Note: The vocals start out quiet, but get louder on this demo – there is nothing wrong with your system!)
Everyday

Cornbread Wednesday

Native – The Cover Band

Hey ho! I’m back from my journeys (and quite bemused to have missed the Native reunion dinner that took place while I was gone!!!) and ready to undertake the long descent into the tertiary layer of Earth’s crust, where Native Tape Vault resides in all its infamous glory.

Today’s selection continues the examination of songs we performed, but didn’t write – informally known as ‘covers’.

When I think of all the covers Native had in our arsenal, it almost makes me weep – in the good way.

We had a lot of diversity in our individual tastes, and that was reflected in the songs we occasionally chose to play.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of – Train In Vain, Gonna Paint My Mailbox Blue, Corrina, Magic Carpet Ride, Oye Como Va!, Stone Free, White Lightnin’, and some really odd choices – a U2 song (which title I can’t remember), and even Hava Nagila!

But, I think we can all agree that today’s submission is truly our strangest cover. And it’s unique in the sense that we even went to the trouble of recording it, ostensibly for a compilation album that never materialized.

The recording was also a good warm-up for a new round of songwriting demos we were about to embark on in mid-1998.

The first part of that year had been spent getting the formidable Chris Wyckoff up to speed on our old material, with a real focus on the Exhale On Spring Street songs. Having accomplished that, we then set forth on addressing the pile of new songs we’d been stacking up in one of the dusty corners of Marmfington Farm.

But, as I noted, we first had a bit of fun with this little ditty from the pen of the Madcap Syd Barrett, the leader of The Pink Floyd (I put ‘The’ in their band name, because that’s what they called themselves on their first couple of albums).

I find it interesting that we seemed to focus on songwriter’s early songs when we chose our covers, and this is, in fact, the earliest Floyd song – their first single, to be precise.

So get ready for a fun, and weird Native version of —

Arnold Layne

Cornbread Wednesday

One Way Or Another… This Darkness Has Got To Give

Last week, we served up a rare live track from a multi-track tape of an undated Native show at Wetlands.

We see no reason why we shouldn’t continue on with another stupendous Catherine Russell performance from the same night.

Native was not prone to do a lot of other folk’s material, but this tune just seems like it was made for us to play and for Catherine to sing. And, since the Grateful Dead hardly ever performed it in their shows, we can safely say that this is (in all humility) one of the best versions you’ll ever come across.

So, enjoy!

I (Dave) am off like a prom-dress, for a couple of weeks, to play some shows with my family band – The Blue Lick Victory Club – in Louisville, KY. As much fun as this blog is to do each week, I do sometimes have to pry myself away from the Davecave, see some sunshine & do some pickin’ & grinnin’.

So hang tight — we’ll pick up where we left off when we resume in July. There’s lots of Wyckoff-era Native rare goodies left in the vault that we will be exhuming for your listening pleasure.

Thanks to everyone who follows us, and who have made this blog so much fun to prepare. You are the reason we do this, and we love you!

See you soon!

New Speedway Boogie (Wetlands 1997)

Cornbread Wednesday