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

 

Advertisements

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

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