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

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Catherine Russell wants some action (and Native’s got it!)

20140604-015659-7019782.jpgThere 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.

Action (Wetlands 1997)

Cornbread Wednesday

Will I Find Satisfaction?

The question is a rhetorical one, for it comes with a presumption of what the heck ‘Satisfaction’ actually means.

For your intrepid vault plunderer, having the Native tape trove transferred to digital and archived has been seen as a mission that might perhaps end with a sense of being satisfied; a feeling of conclusion; a closing of a book.

That can never be, of course, because I will always be struck by the lack of larger success that was to be the fate of this fabled band that I was in called Native.

Case in point: today’s Cornbread Wednesday offering.

Everything that was great about Native is on display here: Mat Hutt’s sinuous lead vocal is a thing of purity, with soulful conviction by the ton, and his lyrics never veer off into the woods of the prosaic as they ask an eternal, burning question. John ‘Woody’ Wood‘s harmony vocal is like a sports car with rack & pinion steering, in the way it follows the Highway 1 twists & turns of Mat’s beseeching lead. Mike Jaimes – are there accolades enough for this guitar colossus? The rhythm section is just dead on the money, with Matt Lyons‘ percolating bass nailing way more than the one beat. My drumming is, IMHO, very good here, as I basked in the new technique I’d been working on with that drumming master, Todd Turkisher. And, let’s not overlook Woody’s contribution on percussion! His singular approach is akin to a rock skipping over water, except it goes on and on and on!

Finally, applause please for Mr. Peter Levin on Wurlitzer piano. His deft touch is resplendent here, and soul galore is infused in that very understated solo!

Craig Randall‘s mix can hardly be called a ‘ruff’ as it was so often described on the DAT covers from these sessions. Each mix variant has it’s qualities, and unique moments, but they are invariably wonderful, with little if any adjustments needed in order to bring them to you in these highly satisfying Wednesday posts.

Satisfaction

Cornbread Wednesday

How Sweet It Is…

Greetings Native aficionados, and other strange creatures!

We’re back with another exciting go-round on the Native Vault merry-go-round, as trawl through the labyrinth of tapes with only our base instincts to guide us, and daft mixe-metaphors to express ourselves with.

As curator of said vault, I can avow to the difficulty sometimes encountered in this musty chamber of rusting relics, and mis-labeled tapes.

This week’s audio delights hail from a DAT tape that bequeathed far less than advertised on it’s front cover.

Brass Giraffe Logo

In the weeks and months that followed Native’s epic weekend at Brass Giraffe Studio, whenever there would transpire a session (like, say, when we brought in Catherine Russell for her mighty contribution to the background vocals) the effervescent and deranged Craig Randall would send us home with a tape of that night’s work, and other nifty mixes that he’d done.

The tape we are examining this week was filled with wonderful mixes from early sessions, and included things like Buddy Cage‘s additions to Outlaw, which weren’t used on the album, but would make for positively cracking bonus tracks (which is pretty much what these Nativology volumes amount to).

Alas, alack, and you gotta be kidding me! Having cued up the tape for transfer, it was a shock to hear, instead of those vaunted mixes, a crappily-recorded Native rehearsal from 1999.

Guess we never thought we’d ever be looking back in fondness of all the hard work that was invested in these sessions… live and learn.

NEVER RECORD OVER STUFF, people!

(Sorry for shouting….)

Anyway, here are two excellent Craig Randall rough mixes from early 1998.

The first one owes a lot to Chris Wyckoff, who goaded your humble narrator into one more take, when I was getting pretty pooped after a long first day. As it turned out, this was the only song from that day we kept. With that one gesture, Chris permanently certified his inclusion in our motley ranks.

The second one shares the distinction of having two keyboardists. On Sweet Intensity, John Watts returned for one last session – adding the tasteful piano part to a song he had done so much to bring to life. On Love Should Be Free, we had Pete Levin in the studio with us, tracking live, with Chris dubbing in organ later, and it’s as funky as you want to be!

Sweet Intensity (Alt. Mix)

Cornbread Wednesday

A Tale of James McKinley

Native entered Brass Giraffe Studio in July of 1997 to record an album’s worth of tunes, and rewrite our destiny.

Our destiny, it had been foretold by all manner of business-folk, was to languish in obscurity for having the temerity to offend record companies with what we had thought was an ace up our collective sleeve — variety.

Yes, by the the mid-nineties, variety had become a pox upon the house of commercial radio, and by extension, no record executive in his overly-paid mind would think of signing an artist who, heaven forbid, actually performed anything other than the same song over and over again, ad infinitum. Just change the title, make it grungy, and don’t veer from the formula!

Native, of course, were never formula followers. So, the dilemma was this – either accept the fact that the band could never reach a mass audience who supposedly demanded uniformity and conformity in its entertainment, or we could go merrily on our way — writing for our audience who were anything but conformist, and whose bemusement at the shoddy practices of a soon-to-be-bankrupt music industry demanded that we strive eternally for that golden piece of wonder – inspiration – and that we never kowtow to marketing wizards with no soul or appreciation for anything but the almighty dollar, and endless replays of Stairway To Heaven, and Free Bird.

Thus, our insurrection began – we stepped blithely in the studio, fully knowing that our next record would fly in the face of the perverted accepted ‘wisdom’ of that bygone time, and we came up with an album that, while not a world-beating sales monster, was a winner in every other way.

Fitting it is, then, that today’s tune is about a malcontent, a rogue, an insurrectionist – James McKinley – Rover!

This is Native, with no overdubs, live in the studio, with new keyboardist Chris Wyckoff, engineered by Craig Randall, and Sean Brophy.

Rover (Alt. Mix)

Cornbread Wednesday

We Want Our Native!

Greetings, O minion of the greatest unknown band of the Rock era – Native!

Firstly, let us utter unto thy eyes our wishes, e’er so sincere, that thou hath observed a wonderful holiday season, with many blessings and thithings. May you, and your children, and their children’s children, and all of your long line find peace, love, drinkiness, and smokiness in this new year of our lord and taskmaster, Mat Hutt, who was born on December 25, 1237 b.c.

We are tardy in these betidings because of that recalcitrant knave, Dave, who lives in a cave, and will not behave, or make time between lashings to fulfill his quota of blogs. Scurrilous cur that he is, the feeble phrases of excusitude he offered gave us no recourse but to increase his torture. His words were anathema to our covenant — he’d been busying himself not on our behalf, but plying his efforts to the pursuit of making something called, “New music.” In shock, horror, and inertia, we digressed!

How, sayeth we, canst thy talents be cast so, in the vain quest for that which is not the true Native agenda? How canst thy already abhorrent countenance grow e’er more vile?

Sayeth his tongue with a smirk, “O reader of blogs, O members of the greatest band that no one but a chosen few hath witnessed – forgive my pleadings with more turns from your merciful whip, for I have strayed!

While the flock were still, I sallied forth and made music with shepherds from the nearby hills of Brooklyn, Bronx, and Hastings-On-Hudson. My co-conspirators also beg a lenient thirty lashings for laying down tracks in Satan’s Protools. My mixing and mastering cohort in evil has dethroned to the fallow basements of the New Hope Church, near Gowanus — working unto my songs a sound so pleasing, the angels will weep with antipathy.

Pray, my masters, you will forswear against reprisal upon our mistress of the internets, the crafty lass who has suffered to create a veritable portal to the stars — a website for my own domain in which I lurk and debauche with impunity and justice.

Click not this link, lest thy eyes behold the wonder of these labours:

www.davecave.me

The music, literature, art, and comic books found there will dazzle the soul of e’en the most tireless miscreant.

Do so in the faith and scepticism I have earned in my weekly vault-raiding, bloviating, humble servitude, and reverence to your memory. Hallowed be thy name – Native.

Knowest thou in thy hearts, O readers, that ‘pon the morn of Wednesday next, ye shall see revealed another piece of the puzzle – make that two pieces – in the enigmatic wonder, and conclusion, of the John Watts era as found in Nativology Vol. 3.

And we looked upon this work, and intoned in our least silly voice, “It is good.”

A Native Tribute to Jerry Garcia

A few weeks ago, we shared a couple of tunes from this extraordinary tape, recorded on 8-14-96, four days after the first anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia.

As a band, we were as indebted to Jerry’s legacy as any other band, for to be sure — his influence was almost omnipresent in the music of the day, and of the present, even with artists who might not be readily-associated in any way with The Grateful Dead.

We, having a certain Mike Jaimes in the band, were always going to have more than a touch of the Dead in our music, despite the fact that in the first four years of our existence, we had never covered a single song from the great American songbook of Jerome Garcia & Robert Hunter.

But, there was always the tacit understanding that Jerry was to Mike, what Chuck Berry was to Keith Richards – an all-pervasive influence. Mike assimilated Jerry so thoroughly that he was able to built on the influence, creating his own style which stands as unique from Jerry’s as, well, Keith is from Chuck Berry. And, Mike built a small army of fans who loved the connection whilst celebrating the evolution, and revolution of his mastery.

Despite all this, it was seen as a bold step for Native to finally step up to the plate and take a swing at a Dead tune. It was the event, and sad acknowledgement of Jerry’s passing that led to todays offerings, which include the song we deemed fitting for the event, and remains a treasured memory to this day. We returned to the tune a couple more times, always at a special moment or occasion requiring a life-affirming statement, of which it is a perfect example.

So, please enjoy this penultimate piece of Nativology Vol. 3, as we near the end of John Watt’s thrilling tenure with the band. We’ll have one more offering next week, and then we plan a little break before turning to the DAT shelf, and the onset of the fearsome Wykcoff Epoch, as will be found in Vol. 4, saints preserve us!

Now, kick back and get ready for a buttery slab of cornbread & Jagermeister, as we share four songs recorded deep within the hallowed edifices of McGovern’s Bar, located at the corner of Spring Street and the edge of the universe —

In Or Out
Love Your Love
Fragile Clown
The Wheel

Cornbread Wednesday