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

A Second Helping Of Love

Please excuse our absence these past two weeks. Our archivist/Curator, the famously infamous Dave Thomas (aka, davenative) allowed his personal projects to intrude into our airspace. But, the standoff has been rectified, corporal punishment has been applied, and now restitution to all offended parties is being administered, via ear canal.

Journey back with us now, as we remember that innocent yesteryear – 2000 a.d., the year Native began seriously planning an epic album – And Then What.

In addition to all the great new songs we’d been working on, we knew we had a large catalogue of tunes that had slipped through the cracks, and had not made it to our earlier albums.

Going through all the old tapes laying around Marmfington Farm, John Fitzwater, our producer and soul brother, came upon the 1995 recording of today’s offered morsel of musical remuneration – a song of great concision (it is barely 3 minutes long) written by Michael Jaimes.

At the gigs, the song was always used as a breather in our otherwise hard-jamming setlists, and it became a well-loved tune by every one of us.

We had recorded an updated version on the same, original tape sometime in the intervening five years since the first was done. This version was slower, more direct, and even more heartfelt – something that did not seem possible.

Fitz made a fresh mix of it for us to listen to, and it quickly became a priority for the new album. We carried out the assignment of re-recording it with alacrity, but in all honesty, we never matched the easy grace of this version.

So, here you go. The subject is love – and, as you’ll hear, Mike had it by the truckload.

Just Want To Love You (Version 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

 

Native Deals With It

After 8 years of pretty much glorious escapades, the first year of the new century had ended rather acrimoniously for Native. There were problems between Mat & myself, and looking back after all this time, I can see it objectively, and say that:

1) Mat’s beefs with me were completely legitimate.
2) My beefs with Mat were completely legitimate.
3) The two sets of beef had nothing to do with each other.
4) We were both a couple of big babies, and it damaged morale in the band.

But, we soldiered on into 2001, and somehow Mat & I worked through our differences, and our collaborations started clicking, the band breathed a sigh of relief, and there was great rejoicing.

We kicked off the year with a fresh round of rehearsals to work on all the new material we had, with Fitz at the studio controls – located clear across on the other side of the loft from the live room!

He was still working out the fine points of using the digital recording software – ProTools, and was loving every moment of it, except for the lack of ventilation or oxygen in my room, where the recording console was set up.

Amidst a general air of friviolity in the occasion, Mike suddenly goes bang into the wonderful Grateful Dead song that is this week’s submission for your approval. And, damn if we didn’t jump in and hang on for a perfectly splendid rendition!

As I listen to it, I marvel at how good we were, and *gosh-a-mighty* Mike was just the most talented guy in the world!

Added bonus – It’s kinda good to see how things can go if you work through your struggles.

Surely, we had grown stronger for having learned how to —

Deal

Cornbread Wednesday

And Then What Didn’t Make The Cut – Stone In The Sun

Last week, I mentioned my song, Stone In The Sun, so it seems only fair to elaborate on its tortured history, and ultimate exclusion from the Native Songbook.

I first wrote the song in late 1992, and intended it for our original lead singer, Anthony Ballsley. There is a recording in our vaults from our last rehearsal with Anthony, wherein he gives the song a reading, stops halfway through, and quits the band.

My songs tended to have that kind of effect on folks, and to this day I don’t know why.

Quite understandably, the song lay dormant for several years, but one day, during the preparation for the And Then What album, I gave it a new coat of paint and showed it to Mat Hutt, just moments after he recorded his mellow excursion, as heard in last week’s post. The rest of the band were out in the front room, enjoying herbal tea (i.e., smoking hash).

Mat began playing it, and I soon added some beat. Matt Lyons came in and joined us on bass. But, by the time Mike, Woody & Chris returned, the song had already been dropped – and once again, I had no Earthly clue why – at least this time the lead singer didn’t quit!

Mat & I weren’t getting along any too good at that time, so that maybe might could be a big reason this song, with its obvious potential, was never taken further. We finally did work out our differences, and came together again before the album project concluded, but this catchy little tune, which never did anything to deserve it, remained unjustly banished from the Native catalogue.

(I finally recorded a complete version with my new band The Beatitudes, and you can enjoy it fully here. Be sure to accompany it with herbal tea.)

Today’s submission is an edit of several takes, as Mat stopped and started over as he learned the different passages of the tune. This way you can get a good idea of what a Native version might have sounded like.

Stone In The Sun

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

Native gets Down… Really Down!

Being a member of Native is kind of like being from the sixties – if you can’t remember it, you know you were there!

As curator of the vast Native Tape Vault, I am constantly coming up with nice little rarities that I was unaware existed, or had forgotten about. Of course, once I’ve found a rare item, the old brain cells kick in and start pumping out a data stream of zero’s and one’s. Mostly zeros.

But, this much I do know about today’s audio offering —

It was a mix of a song we had demoed twice in 1992, first with Anthony Balsley (our original lead singer). In December of that year, after Anthony left the band, Mat Hutt worked with sound engineer, Rob Smith, to cut new vocals over the same backing track. A remix of this session has already appeared on Volume 1 of this Nativology series.

But, today’s track is different enough that we think it worthy of your precious time and sweaty ears. Here’s why —

As we prepared our album, And Then What, the first thing we did was get really stoned. The second thing we did was review old, unreleased songs that might make the cut. Indeed, two songs included were from those earlier, smoke-enshrouded years – I Am and Tell Me The Truth.

Why this beauty remained unfinished and left to languish in our vault is a mystery. Probably time constraints were a factor.

We had planned a double-cd release, but time ran out in June 2001, and we only had about enough for an album and a half when Mat moved to California. (Later that year, all work to complete the tracks was abandoned in the wake of 9/11.)

But, for a brief moment, this gem was deemed a contender, and this instrumental mix was prepared by John Fitzwater in the waning days of 1998. It needed new Mat Hutt & Woody Wood vocal tracks, some percussion and Chris Wyckoff’s keys, which it never got. What it does have are some amazing and awesome guitar parts by Mike Jaimes and Mat, and it contains a solo that is all angst and guitar fury – Jaimes in all his unfettered 1992 glory, playing his legendary Gibson Mary Ford guitar, with all its toggle switches!

Fitz’s splendid work on the mix (with very limited equipment) shows how good this would have sounded on the record.

So, kick back with a Nutella Daiquiri and enjoy a very rocking and jamming instrumental mix, and one of the few things in our vault with both of our soundmen’s fingerprints on it (other than a certain blow-up doll!).

Down (No Vox, Fitzmix – 1998)

Cornbread Wednesday