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

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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

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

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 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