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

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? 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

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

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

The Long Road To And Then What! Part One

If you are puzzled by this week’s blog title – it refers to Native’s biggest, most ambitious album project. The title, And Then What, was derived from something once said by Sam Hutt (Mat’s dad – better known as Hank Wangford), whilst on a visit during the early days of Native’s existence.

We were watching a serial (you know, the pre-television episodic cliffhangers that thrilled movie audiences in those days of yore when everything was better?), I believe it was Dick Tracy, starring the great Ralph Byrd, made by my favorite studio – Republic Pictures.

In the serial, there was a moment where the evil ringleader of The Spider Gang, tells a henchman something like this – “Go down there, catch that guy, then take him to the river and drown him.” The incredibly compliant henchman nods in obeiance, and off he goes on his murderous task.

Sam’s cogent question was, “Why do the henchmen never say ‘And then what?'”

We had not yet recorded our first record, but the long road to And Then What began at that moment.

Jump cut to early 1999, Native has been touring for a year in support of our second studio album, Exhale On Spring Street (on which we churlishly got Sam’s credit for Wild Atlantic Sea wrong!), Keyboardist and botany expert Chris Wyckoff had settled in as a full member of the band, Woody had built a spiffing studio for us to rehearse, and the often-acerbic John Fitzwater had outfitted that space with a Pro Tools set up.

We were now fully capable of producing our next album, and had built up a large reservoir of new material, so we immediately set to work with surprising alacrity and slothfulness.

One of the very first songs we undertook was written by your humble narrator, and played with great vigor by my bandmates.

I don’t remember writing it, but the lyrics are at variance with those on my own demo of the song, so there must have been an great deal of collaboration on it, which I assume I enjoyed.

Get ready for quite a few more oddities like this in the next few week’s thrilling chapters – we wrote way more than what ended up on the album, and like this submission, the material was very strong, and the henchmen were compliant, and unquestioning.

(Note: The vocals start out quiet, but get louder on this demo – there is nothing wrong with your system!)
Everyday

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

A Hot Night At Wetlands – 1993

Hey Folk!

Cornbread WednesdayWith the final post for Nativology Vol. 3 last week, it seems like a perfect time to do something a little different for this Cornbread Wednesday. But, before we do, let’s point out that we now have three volumes jam-band-packed with rare goodies from the Native vault that chart the progress of… us! So, take some time to go back and check out all three volumes. They are there for you — free!

Today we offer a great bit of video taken by band friend Oren Ritterband. This is the unedited footage, and it’s a little over a half-hour long. But, this is prime Native!! We have a live tape of the show, but it would take an amazing video expert to edit it all together, so the sound is from the camera itself.

Guest cellist, Dave Barnhart was someone we really wanted to join the band, so it’s fun to imagine what we might have sounded like if he had not gone off in that dead-end classical direction. But, whatevers, we soon added keyboardist-extraordinaire John Epstein, and history was written in lightning!

The really great thing for us, is to see Mike Jaimes playing some absolutely smoking licks on his Mary Ford Les Paul – many thought it was a Gibson SG, but we say thee nay! It was a Mary Ford, with it’s white paint stripped off, and about a thousand toggle switches installed – none of which worked!

It’s neck was so warped, no one but Mike could play it. Therefore – not only is Mike playing these dazzling parts, but he’s bending the strings into pitch!

Shortly, thereafter, we would lose it somewhere in the wilds of New Jersey, and Mike would acquire his trademark Paul Reed Smith, which would serve him so well foreverafter.

So, without further ado —

Native – Wetlands 1993

The John Watts Era Comes To A Close

It was a sad day, indeed, when John Watts took the decision to leave Native.

He loved the band, but the schedule was punishing. And, it has to be said that, at this time, there was a bit of friction in band – some of which is my fault, so I bear a piece of the blame for driving him out.

When I met John, I was chuffed and delighted to bring him in for an audition with the band, and when he joined the band kicked up another notch in tightness, and our sound became even more musical and rich.

He was our most joyous, upbeat member, and that’s saying something considering we had the sparkling Mike Jaimes in the band.

On a personal level, he encouraged me to take my writing more seriously (to the bemusement of other members, who, I think, would have rather well-preferred I take it a lot less seriously!)

One example of how he helped me, was when he championed my newest song, Sweet Intensity, over the disinterest it had received when I played it for the guys. I really don’t think it would have become a Native song without his support.

I’ll readily confess – my general displeasure over how my material was being judged led to a bit of a bad attitude on my part in the later days of 1996, but there was another music-related factor that led to some inner-band conflict which disturbed John a lot.

I had started to feel a pain in my hands, stemming from my vice-like grip on the drumsticks. My punk-rock drumming approach had been getting more streamlined and sophisticated, but I retained the too-tight grip that, after long gigs, was leading to an aching soreness in my thumb joints.

John suggested I see a drum teacher he knew, and I very quietly started to take instruction which gave me all kinds of insight into how my grip was defeating my intent – why my drum fills were heavy-handed and sloppy, and how it contributed to an overall laxness in my playing, despite my high energy-level. I was working twice as hard for half the effect! Finding a better grip not only transformed my style, but the lack of pain was an enormous relief.

The problem was, I didn’t tell anyone else in the group about my lessons, and rather than increase my ability, the immediate result of my new grip was a drop in precision. It was going to take some time to get used to it, and in the meantime, I was playing very sloppily.

Then came a big band meeting, where I was confronted about my playing. Having already made moves to up my technique, I was angered by the interference. I sort of reflexively reacted to being provoked in a very confrontational band meeting, and was appalled that my playing had obviously been the subject of discussion behind my back.

The tensions in all this ultimately pushed the always convivial John Watts away from the band, and his era came to a sad close. The following months were what Chris Wyckoff has dubbed, ‘The Scary Time’, where Native soldiered on as a 5-piece. Fortunately, the first six months of 1997 saw very little taping at our shows, so there is scant evidence of my progress with the new grip.

The good part of the story is that I got my drumming problems sorted, and Native went on to continue our schedule of a hundred or more gigs per year, constant song-writing (which I was able to be a larger part of, thanks to the success of Sweet Intensity), and the recording of our best album – Exhale On Spring Street. During the recording of that epic, the reserved and tranquil Mr. Wyckoff joined our ranks, and all was well in the little town of Inisfree, once again.

So, the ending was happy, but when it comes to the subject of John Watts’ departure – I can’t think of anything funny to say about it. I wish he had stayed, and lord knows how we might have evolved if he had.

Bottom line — today’s tune brings Nativology Vol. 3 full circle. It began the era with a brilliant demo tape, and ended the era with a masterful performance at our home base – McGoverns Bar. We were much better than we were giving ourselves credit for.

Digging Holes (McGoverns 11-09-96)

Cornbread Wednesday