Native Live At Wetlands June 1995

Hey folks!

We here at Native International Headquarters have been pretty excited ever since I, Dave Thomas, the drummer, made a big discovery deep in our labrynthian vaults.

If we were to wish for a particular gig to have been recorded in such a way that it could be remixed as a proper album, this show would be high on the list.

After months of touring to promote our eponymous first album, we had built up an armada of new songs for the follow-up release. And fortunately, that’s exactly what happened.

The headliner that night was Robbie Krieger of The Doors and special recording gear was brought in to capture that occasion. As the opening act, Native took advantage of the opportunity to do some capturing as well!

And, it’s a good thing. Little did we know that very shortly thereafter, John Epstein would leave, and our album plans would be shelved indefinitely.

Months went by before we settled on a new keyboardist – the effervescent John Watts – by which time we had accumulated even more new songs.

The fallout from all that was that several prime Native tunes never made it to the studio. Indeed it would be three years and a live album before another studio effort was done.

So, out of the past we find this golden treasure – a wonderful night with hardly a wrong note or forgotten lyric, and several extremely rare songs for you to feast upon! Mat Hutt and John Wood were so on you might forget the word off even exists! Mike Jaimes is on fire on every tune, especially his rarely-played Rolling Thunder which has an immaculate performance here.  John Epstein’s Hot Day should make everyone lament that his tenure could not have been longer. And let’s mention Mat Hutt again because his rarities are sublime, and criminally under-represented in our archives. It’s just an astounding set list.

However, there is a caveat – isn’t there always a caveat?

The tape didn’t start rolling until about thirty seconds after we’d begun playing. I, Dave Thomas, the drummer, took it upon myself to blend in bits of a recording made two months earlier at the same venue. Many of the songs from that night matched up with the night we are presenting, with one major difference. I, Dave Thomas, the drummer, was in California. Which means that the drum chair was helmed that night by the incredible Roy Mayorga.

So, the opening bars of “Carried Away” are from that other tape, but also something extra and special. The version of “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” is also from that earlier night, so here’s our very belated tribute and thank you to Roy for sitting in while I was off trying to make a movie in Hollywood.

So, here you have it — our Christmas gift to you —

Native Live at Wetlands June 1995

 

 

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Native Was Carried Away

Hey ho, folk!

Dave Thomas here, back from summer vacation, batteries totally recharged, tan firmly fading, underwear on backwards, and standing ready to delve once again into the history, myth, lore, facts, figures, and apochyphal nonsense pertaining to everyone’s favorite band that’s called Native!!

As we saw in the vast archive of rarities left behind in the vast Native vault (and compiled in Nativology Vols. 1-4), there are many hitherto unheard songs, untold tales, and unsung heroes & villains in this band’s legacy, and I, as curator of the vault, have the solemn duty to shine a light on the highs, explain the middles, and not be shy of exposing the low’s.

Today, I want to take us back to the storied year of 1994, when the Clinton in the Oval Office was a sax player named Bill, cars got 3 miles to the gallon, phones were the size of canteloupes, and the ink was still dry on Rudy Guiliani’s pact with Satan!

For some arcane reason, I, your humble narrator, was tapped as lyricist for the song that would serve as the opening number on our eponymous first album.

I filled it with wonderful angst-riddled wordplay and rhymes as I wrote about my favorite subject – myself. The suspicions in the pit I found myself in the middle of harked back to a previous band, a previous love, a previous job, and all the devilments found therein.

Even more incredibly, I was allowed to vent my frustrations in another song that would lead off side two of the cassette version! (Remember cassettes? Remember side twos?)

It was a task I quite enjoyed, so fittingly – I was not to do it again for quite some time, when Sweet Intensity appeared on our third album, Exhale On Spring Street.

But, in hindsight and to be utterly fair, my verbal misgivings would not long be needed as Mat Hutt and John Wood rose to the task of lyricification with great ease and alacrity. And after all, they were well-supplied with all the angst, and teeth-gnashing frustration required for great rock’n roll verbiage. And, they were soon joined by John Epstein and Michael Jaimes who penned their own opuses, which we will address in future missives.

What you are about to hear today is a much-improved, remastered version of this epic tune. Actually, ‘remastered’ might be a misnomer since the original album does not seem to have been mastered at all! Last year Jonathan Vergara, lord of the dark art of mastering, lent his touch to the album, and it bloomed like a perennial after a rainstorm.

Anyway, enough of these word-things, click the link below and wrap your earworms around what would be the opening salvo of Native’s claim to a seat among the heirarchy of toppermost of the poppermost talents in the Pantheon of A-listers.

I think I can safely say, you’ll be —

Carried Away

We Will Soon Have Our Day, Hey Hey!

As we revived older songs for the And Then What project, this tune – perhaps the oldest in the Native canon – was dusted off and given a new coat of paint.

This is a warts & all version which we unashamedly share here – hey, we were learning it, and you are a fly on the wall!

Very soon afterwards, we recorded the track as heard on the album here.

I’ve always loved this tune, maybe because we so seldom dealt with issues as big as the one Mat Hutt addresses with enviable passion – the environment, and what we’re doing to it!

On a purely musical level – It’s great hearing how tight we were as a live unit. The only real ticks are slight. And if the tempo is gonna rush, it might as well really rush! 

But, listen and smile as Chris Wyckoff and Mike Jaimes nail the solos! Marvel at Mat & John Wood’s equally nailified vocals. In my judgement, you’d be quite justified to say the whole thing is nailienated! 

It’s immodest to say, but F it!

Native was awesome!

I Am (2001 Demo)

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

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

 

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

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)