A Native Trifecta!

We here at Native Central are quite excited about an announcement we’ll be making later this month – we won’t spoil it with any clues or hints as to the whys and wherefores at this time, but if you are a Native fan — be excited. Be very excited!

The immediate upshot of the portentous occasion, though, is that the current weekly blog, examining the newly-remastered tracks from our self-titled first album, must be compressed like an accordion. Instead of the usual format we have followed, focusing on one track for each post, we’ll trot through a few of them in one happy bunch!

Previously, we examined Carried Away, and Go — tracks one and two respectively.

Now, we’re ready to tackle track three — this sprightly little number was completely written by John Epstein and it showcases his versatility.

It also departed greatly from Native’s M.O. in the way we developed our songs. Normally, we’d collaborate as a band with the main songwriter, oftentimes coming up with new material, such as lyrics, bridges, musical themes, etc. But, in this singular instance that process was bypassed, as the song was deemed studio-ready after minimal rehearsal, although John’s lyrics underwent a complete rewrite when, upon reflection, they were found to be a bit too dark.

Nice song. Not much else to say about it, since it was rarely performed by us (for reasons lost in the hoary mists of unreliable memory).

On to track four – a real beauty, and one of Mat Hutt‘s all-time best renditions. A true hippie anthem, with its heart on its sleeve and irony-free. It’s a song we would return to for solace during the dark eras that lay ahead. Like Tolkien’s ring — it would bind us, and remind us of our brotherhood and the bond we shared.


Finally, track five is one of my top personal favorites. We knew nothing of bipolar (or any other mental conditions other than being stoned, or not stoned). I guess we were channeling when we wrote it, and who would have thought this short, quirky ditty would blossom into a long, fiery Mike Jaimes-led exploration at our gigs?


I also really like the production on this one. It’s really one of Lou Giminez‘ best efforts as our producer. The reverse-reverb was a nice touch!

And with that we have nearly reached the end of side one, if we were listening to the cassette version. The final song on that side deserves it’s own story, which we’ll endeavor to tell over a heaping pile of cornbread next Wednesday.

Until then, here’s a trio of table-grade Native goodness, a winning trifecta if ever there was one!

 

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It Doesn’t Matter How You Get There

Editor’s note: This past Monday was Dave’s birthday and after all his hard work making it possible to still have new Native tracks (more to come! Really! Just wait!) and telling stories from the heyday of the band, we’d like to give him a big round of applause and gratitude. So, Dave, wishing you a very happy birthday and a fantastic year filled with music, comics, and new stories worth sharing!

As Native prepared for our first album, we rather rashly jettisoned quite a few songs that would have been real corkers.

I suppose it was because of two things: 1) We were writing a lot more collaboratively than before, and wanted to ride that thang! 2) Many of the older tunes were meant for a different singer, and Mat Hutt was having to adjust to keys that weren’t right for him. If we changed the key, oftentimes the feel of the original was lost. 3) We now had John Epstein in the band on keyboards, and we felt we were in a new era. (Indeed, to this day Native’s eras are demarcated by who was on keys)

Okay… three reasons why great songs like Something Worth Remembering, Blue Room, Down, Love’s Lost, Water, and Balloo never had studio versions. In many ways, this is a pity because an album with just those songs would have been terrific!

There are two notable exceptions – Interested Third Party – the song that drove Anthony out of the band for being “too cute,” (which it was!), and the epic, magnum opus, grande finale – The Sea.

But today, let’s focus on a song written specifically for the album.

Today’s tune could be accused of falling into the ‘too cute’ category, indeed I have been in that camp for many a year. But, the new mastering job by our ace engineer, Jonathan Vergara, has revealed subtleties that the old cd kept hidden, and I find myself dancing, and snapping my fingers to it now, which never happened before!

Although, it only has one verse, I remember everyone pitching ideas, and riffs, so that it became a truly collaborative effort and although rather slight in content and length, I can see how it paved the way to so many Native masterpieces down the road.

Let’s see if my earworm becomes yours?

Put your finger on a globe, or the button on a CD player, and —

Go

Native’s First Album – Remastered!!

Native's self-titled first album as it appeared in 1994, with everyone's sigs!!

Native’s self-titled first album as it appeared in 1994, with everyone’s sigs!

This is how the world first experienced Native – Karl Ottersberg‘s art displayed in all its beautiful sepia-toned wonderfulness.

Now we can say why there has been a dearth of Native posting activity recently. We’ve been working on this!

Karl spent a week on a completely new version of the cover – and we love it!!

Native94-2015reduxCoverThumb400

I, Dave Thomas – troubadour and linguist, along with Jonathan Vergara – who has handled a lot of Dave’s Beatitudes releases, as well as my country band – The Blue Lick Victory Club – have rescued a project that is perhaps the most important one we ever embarked upon! Working diligently at Jonathan’s Pancake Studios.

So check it out at our Bandcamp site, which is now the exclusive place to get our music. We love Bandcamp because it allows you to download our music in almost any format you wish (mp3, FLAC, ALAC, AAC, or Ogg Vorbis), perfect for audiophiles and those who like to keep a big playlist on their phones alike.

Exclusively with a purchase of this release you will also have the option to download all of the accompanying cd packaging images you would get if you bought a physical copy in print quality, as well as some bonus images and artwork from both editions, lovingly collated by by our stalwart, long-time friend and associate – CraftLass (who has her own fine catalogue of music)!

With that, we are taking a few weeks off for an early summer vacation. But, we’ll be back with more Nativology posts, some general irreverence, and a word or three on where we go from here as we excavate our archive ever further.

But, for now, let’s take this moment to exult in the sweet afterglow of finally getting this one right!! As the great Stan Lee would say – Excelsior!!

Until then, enjoy our first album as it was always meant to be heard! And, by the way, we like the title…

Native

Cornbread Wednesday

As The Calendar Pages Fall Away…

2001 is rightly remembered as a traumatic year. But, for Native, the year was traumatic long before September 11.

As Mat Hutt prepared a move to join his family in California, the band carried on in the only way we knew how to do – gigging, rehearsing, and writing songs for our upcoming album. In other words, we were a bit in denial.

All good, though, because we were at the peak of our powers, and with Chris Wyckoff now firmly established and entrenched on the keyboard bench and so much great new material flowing out of us, there just wasn’t any other way to handle the situation.

Our third studio album was the result, and what a fine album And Then What turned out to be.

Since it was meant to be a compendium of both new and older material that had not made it onto our earlier efforts, we found ourselves delving into our past. Today’s song is one that we revisited and refurbished with a spiffing new arrangement.

Since it was already on our first eponymously-titled album, it didn’t make the cut. Little did we know that this very fine rehearsal recording would end up going out to the world in an anthology such as this!

I like it much better than the album version, except I wish Catherine Russell was there with her breathtaking vocals.

All we could do, was keep on doing all we could do, and just let the days we had left –

Fall Away (2001 Arr.)

Cornbread Wednesday

Our Defining Hour

By the summer of 2000, with the Y2K fears long subsided and the long lazy days of summer having slowed New York City to a crawl – Native had put the finishing touches at converting its studio, Marmfington Farm, into a self-service recording studio.

One of the earliest tracks we used in the new-to-us format of ProTools, was a song I’d written that everybody seemed to really like. I remember the time between first bringing it in and when the band had perfected it was quite short. Although its Latin lilt was a bit outside of our style, it suited us to a tee, especially with Mat & Woody’s thrilling harmonies sailing over the top.

We were basically defined as a jam band, although we billed ourselves as “Funky Fried” and all manner of other hype-oriented genres, it really came down to songwriting first, and jamming second for us. Although, we were influenced greatly by The Grateful Dead, I think it’s safe to come out and say that our main influences were The Meters and The Beatles. In fact, I used to refer to the band as The Beaters.

This song was a watershed moment for me in another way — it’s my first mix.

Although, I had produced our second studio album, Exhale On Spring Street, I always trusted and relied on engineers to see to the details of mixing the music. Craig Randall had done a wonderful job on Exhale, and now we expected John Fitzwater to do the same. To that end, he engineered today’s offering beautifully, and would continue to do so throughout all the tracking that took place in the latter half of 2000, and onward to June 2001.

But, it was early days for the project and I wanted to get my hands wet. After I dried them off, I made a mix, and that’s what we’re going to hear today.

Please note that Mike Jaimes would not get around to cutting his lead guitar tracks, nor would Chris Wyckoff get to lay down his keyboard licks, until 2004. The reason for this will be covered in a future installment of this epistemological tome.

Until then, here is the splendor of our rough mix of a very polished tune —

My Defining Hour (Demo)

St. Stephen with a rose…

Hey, hey! We’re back, and look – it’s 2015!

We’ve been working on this Nativology project for over two years, now. Hard to believe that when Dave Thomas cued up the four-track demo he and Mike Jaimes made in November 1992 that we’d have come through four volumes of rarities from our vaults!

But, hey, we’ve always been very productive, as evidenced by today’s offering.

When John Fitzwater undertook the production of the album that would come to be known as And Then What, his first act was to get our studio, Marmfington Farm, into the twenty-first century. Gone were the easily-mangled eight track cassettes that had been our mainstay for years. Computer-based recording was the wave, and we were going to ride that wave like raving ninja surfers!

Sadly, we were not ninjas or surfers, and our relationship with technology was pretty much the same one the Frankenstein monster had with fire.

Fire bad!!

To ease the sitch, Fitz wisely led us through some sessions that were not meant for release, but were aimed at allaying our primitive fears, and getting the ninja-thing happening.

So, the new ProTools set-up’s maiden voyage culminated in today’s tune – a classic Grateful Dead song playfully reworked by Mat Hutt. (Note: Version 1, performed by Mike at the same session, appeared on Nativology Vol. 2)

In and waaaaaay out of the garden he goes —

St. Stephen 2

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