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

 

 

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)

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 Else? All I Really Know about All I Really Know

All I can say about the lyrical content of today’s previously unheard offering, submitted for your approval, is that it was written in the tumultuous early days of 2001.

We were broke, and had been fighting, a bit

We’d worked out our respective beefs, though, and grew up quite a lot in the process. The new collaborations took on a renewed sense of exuberance and passion.

Problem is — we were still broke.

Another important thing to remember is where we were, as a country, in that period. No one lives in a fishbowl, and we were becoming more aware of what was going on. The new songs conveyed a hopeful, but concerned point of view, written by a person dealing with the onset of a new era, both economically, and politically.

George W. Bush had just entered the Oval Office and, almost immediately, there were reports of secret meetings with heads of energy industries.

We were not activists on any front, at that point, and we had never taken any political stand, as a group. But, being interested in the environment was a common bond between us, and we all started to get more informed about what was going on, and being set into policy, by a group that seemed to be the beneficiaries of said policy – who got to write it!

Those classified meetings eventually were made public, and we now know that our worst fears were not only met, but it was much worse than anyone could have dreamt — the plans for an Iraq invasion were being drawn.

Even without that knowledge, the portents were deeply unsettling, and it led to many of us becoming much more activist in our personal lives. But, in Mat’s humble hippie head, in the fallow days of 2001, the focus of his lyric was all about coping with daily life, with all these brand new unknowns that lay ahead.

All I Really Know

Cornbread Wednesday

 

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