Your Love’s Lost… And Found

Hey Native People of all stripes (including those with actual stripes!)

You’ve been such a well-mannered group, and your karma is at such a high level for not throwing brickbats at Dave (@davenav) for his choices in what to present to you in this, our on-going weekly blog celebrating the vast vaults of vivid, yet vainglorious variegation in our labyrinthian lair of little-known lore, that we’ve decided to throw ya’ll a bone!

We’re temporarily, and temporally, deactivating the chronological component of this exercise, and jumping into Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine for a journey to that fabled year of 1993, when people had hair that covered their entire bodies, fashion trends had not yet been invented, and social media meant owning a Sony Walkman with a mono speaker plugged in. So, move over Sherman! Break out the tie-die tees, and Twizzlers!

Today, we unearth a lost song in the annals of Nativedom — one that was written in a fever-dream by Dave, with lyrics written in an overlit New School Classroom by Anthony Balsley, Native’s original lead singer. Ironically, it is a lost song about something that is lost.

A real fan favorite, the tune made the transition to the Mat Hutt Regency Era, and flourished until the Bronze Age, sometime around the discovery of the frock coat.

We played this song a lot, indeed, it appears on the cassette from which today’s version originates, twice. This unmarked tape was uncovered too late to include it where it rightly should be, on Nativology Vol. 2. It was recorded during one of our weekly stints at the mythical Wetlands Preserve, by the legendary archer and soundman, John Leteurza.

Later that same year, when John Epstein joined the band, and the great epoch of silly voices was born, that seems to be when this song fell into the La Brea Tar Pits of 26th Street, Manhattan. Left to lie undiscovered, with not even a tape cover to mark it’s passing, but perfectly preserved — until now.

This is the core five-piece Native. Mat Hutt – of Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocal, and double-take-inducing stage announcements. Matt Lyons – of blockbusting bass, undying fealty to Stax Records, and strange northern sporting teams. Michael Jaimes, guitar god, mischievous imp, owner of three tee shirts. John Wood, of Percussion ensemble, fishing tackle, and Space Cadet Decoder Ring. David Thomas – of too many drums, and way too much cymbalism.

(But, don’t worry Chris Wyckoff fans! We’ll return to our regularly scheduled trip through the Wickedly Weird Wyckoffian Age, in next week’s ultra-thrilling edition of Nativology Vol. 4.)

So here it is — sit back with a hefty stein of Mead, and enjoy a stirring tribute to being left colder than yesterday’s lunch —

Love’s Lost

Cornbread Wednesday

How Sweet It Is…

Greetings Native aficionados, and other strange creatures!

We’re back with another exciting go-round on the Native Vault merry-go-round, as trawl through the labyrinth of tapes with only our base instincts to guide us, and daft mixe-metaphors to express ourselves with.

As curator of said vault, I can avow to the difficulty sometimes encountered in this musty chamber of rusting relics, and mis-labeled tapes.

This week’s audio delights hail from a DAT tape that bequeathed far less than advertised on it’s front cover.

Brass Giraffe Logo

In the weeks and months that followed Native’s epic weekend at Brass Giraffe Studio, whenever there would transpire a session (like, say, when we brought in Catherine Russell for her mighty contribution to the background vocals) the effervescent and deranged Craig Randall would send us home with a tape of that night’s work, and other nifty mixes that he’d done.

The tape we are examining this week was filled with wonderful mixes from early sessions, and included things like Buddy Cage‘s additions to Outlaw, which weren’t used on the album, but would make for positively cracking bonus tracks (which is pretty much what these Nativology volumes amount to).

Alas, alack, and you gotta be kidding me! Having cued up the tape for transfer, it was a shock to hear, instead of those vaunted mixes, a crappily-recorded Native rehearsal from 1999.

Guess we never thought we’d ever be looking back in fondness of all the hard work that was invested in these sessions… live and learn.

NEVER RECORD OVER STUFF, people!

(Sorry for shouting….)

Anyway, here are two excellent Craig Randall rough mixes from early 1998.

The first one owes a lot to Chris Wyckoff, who goaded your humble narrator into one more take, when I was getting pretty pooped after a long first day. As it turned out, this was the only song from that day we kept. With that one gesture, Chris permanently certified his inclusion in our motley ranks.

The second one shares the distinction of having two keyboardists. On Sweet Intensity, John Watts returned for one last session – adding the tasteful piano part to a song he had done so much to bring to life. On Love Should Be Free, we had Pete Levin in the studio with us, tracking live, with Chris dubbing in organ later, and it’s as funky as you want to be!

Sweet Intensity (Alt. Mix)

Cornbread Wednesday

A Tale of James McKinley

Native entered Brass Giraffe Studio in July of 1997 to record an album’s worth of tunes, and rewrite our destiny.

Our destiny, it had been foretold by all manner of business-folk, was to languish in obscurity for having the temerity to offend record companies with what we had thought was an ace up our collective sleeve — variety.

Yes, by the the mid-nineties, variety had become a pox upon the house of commercial radio, and by extension, no record executive in his overly-paid mind would think of signing an artist who, heaven forbid, actually performed anything other than the same song over and over again, ad infinitum. Just change the title, make it grungy, and don’t veer from the formula!

Native, of course, were never formula followers. So, the dilemma was this – either accept the fact that the band could never reach a mass audience who supposedly demanded uniformity and conformity in its entertainment, or we could go merrily on our way — writing for our audience who were anything but conformist, and whose bemusement at the shoddy practices of a soon-to-be-bankrupt music industry demanded that we strive eternally for that golden piece of wonder – inspiration – and that we never kowtow to marketing wizards with no soul or appreciation for anything but the almighty dollar, and endless replays of Stairway To Heaven, and Free Bird.

Thus, our insurrection began – we stepped blithely in the studio, fully knowing that our next record would fly in the face of the perverted accepted ‘wisdom’ of that bygone time, and we came up with an album that, while not a world-beating sales monster, was a winner in every other way.

Fitting it is, then, that today’s tune is about a malcontent, a rogue, an insurrectionist – James McKinley – Rover!

This is Native, with no overdubs, live in the studio, with new keyboardist Chris Wyckoff, engineered by Craig Randall, and Sean Brophy.

Rover (Alt. Mix)

Cornbread Wednesday

Nativology Vol. 4 Doth Commence!

 

Wyckoff_signGreetings, Nativologists!

And welcome to another chapter in the long and whiney road that I, Sir Dave of Knave, Corningshire, have humbly offered for, lo, these past two years.

In our previous chapter – late 1996 saw John Watts’ departure from our ranks. This was followed by a half-year sojourn in which Native was back to the core five-piece line-up that had formed from molten lava in ’92; back to basics, but with a twist.

We were better musicians; better at being a band; better as individual performers; most importantly, we had improved as songwriters to the point where we were now writing material meant to fit together as the larger whole of the new album we were planning.

All of the first half of ’97 was preparation for the second half. The new songs developed in the waning months of ’96 would now be honed to perfection over a period of 6 months, as Native gigs grew in frequency, and profile.

In the meantime, we kept a lookout for someone who could fill the void in the keyboard department, and (lucky for us) over the summer, we got to know Chris Wyckoff from playing together at McGovern’s Bar, our home base on Spring Street, New York City.

Chris’ affinity for New Orleans/ Professor Longhair/Art Neville funk was just what we were looking for, but he was adept enough to follow our many style mood-swings.

Chris’ inauguration came during our album sessions, which began in July, 1997, and we will delve into those sessions in upcoming posts. But, today, let’s jump to our first gig with Chris Wyckoff, from that same month.

Mary Had A Little Lamb (McGoverns 7-15-97)
Running Smooth (McGoverns 7-15-97)
Cissy Strut (McGoverns 7-15-97)

Cornbread Wednesday

Exhaling On Spring Street, Part Two

Special note: This week we got the sad news that our good friend, and Mat Hutt’s first wife, Rebecca Lyons, passed away after a courageous battle with breast cancer.

Needless to say, we are devastated by the loss of such a dear, beautiful comrade. Rebecca was there for so many of our exploits, it seems inconceivable she’s not here still.

Her heart was huge, her laugh contagious, and her spirit was infused with love.

So, with a misty eye, we dedicate this week’s post to her, and carry on as she would want us to. R.I.P.

The onset of winter, in November of 1996, brought with it a sense that the year had seen a lot of growth in the band. We had matured in our playing, and our songwriting, perhaps influenced by the sophisticated jazz leanings of our keyboardist, John Watts, was going to some very swanky places.

We were in a very much better state of confidence as well. Just a year earlier we were struggling to bounce back from the lack of success from our first album, and we were still adapting to the loss of John Epstein on keys. Now, as we looked forward to 1997, with a self-produced live album under our belts (Live From Marmfington Farm, Vol. 1), that was selling faster than we could believe, and an increasingly steady growth in our fanbase, there was a feeling we could do it all ourselves.

This was the dawn of the DIY age, for us. With even our management fighting amongst themselves, the band drew together – we relished rehearsing, and writing, and had learned enough about manufacturing a product so that it was all we wanted to do. To heck with producers, and trying to impress record company moguls who just didn’t get what we were about – we would undertake the production of our next studio album ourselves – or, rather, I should say I would take on the responsibility of organizing, funding, finding the studio, oversee the sessions, coordinate schedules, keep track of all the overdub sessions, invite the guest players, and all the leg work that entailed.

I didn’t realize it then, but I had become a Record Producer.

So, here we were, at the height of our powers, ready to undertake an album that would be a year in the making. Thank goodness, we had such a wealth of good material at hand.

With the debuts of today’s featured tunes, all the songs from the next album had been introduced, and were up and running well, thank you very much –with one big exception. But, that exception is a story for another day.

Right now, kick back on the alligator-skin sofa, sip a Black Velvet, or some other exotically-named libation, and check out the sounds of what were our latest songs in that fabled November, 1996.

Satisfaction (McGoverns 11-09-96)

Everything Must Happen (McGoverns 11-09-96)

Cornbread Wednesday

Exhaling On Spring Street, Part One

The summer of 1996 was a great one for Native.

We had put out a cd in late summer of live tracks from late spring that our manager, Paul Ducharme, had compiled. And it was selling like hot cakes. Which caught us off guard, actually.

Our self-titled debut record, released in ’94, had a big budget, was recorded at a mega-cool studio, was distributed heavily to radio, &c. But, it had not sold that well. To this day, we still have boxes of that ill-fated disc.

In the wake of that disappointment, we had gone DIY with Six Bucks, aka Ten Bucks, aka Live At Marmfington Farm, Vol. 1.

Done on a budget so low, the word ‘budget’ called and wanted its integrity back, distributed by nobody but us at our gigs, and kicking major ass – it was the little record that could! And, it did. (And, you can still get it at our Bandcamp site here)

We were playing well, and we got to do it often – 1996 was our most heavily-booked year. In our trusty van, The Silver Cloud, we traversed the northeast, and retraversed it. We were headlining Wetlands at least once a month, and if they needed some powerhouse players for the Powerjams they were putting on, well, they knew who to call.

But, there existed in the back of our minds the niggling thought that, given the success of the live cd, we really should make a proper studio album, only this time we should be produce it, and we should call all the shots, despite having no idea how to do these things.

After spending a long time way up in Maine, at Bar Harbor, where we had the luxury of extended gigs, and about as idyllic a setting as anyone could imagine, we returned rested, tanned, and rejuvenated. We also came back with a new batch of songs, and immediately starting gigging them – it was a moment that heralded the start of a production that would take over a year to complete, and turn out to be our best album – Exhale On Spring Street.

Today’s selections are from September 4, 1996. The first is an early rendition of a tune that was originally titled, Love Should Be Free, Or At Least Have Discount Coupons, but that was too long so we shortened it.

The second tune is the famous Stevie Wonder song, sung to perfection by a guy with his arm in a cast, John Wood. (Note that there is no percussion on these tracks, as Woody had broken his hand in a bizarre gardening incident in John D. Rockefeller’s potting shed.)

Love Should Be Free (McGoverns 9-4-96)

Livin’ For The City (McGoverns 9-4-96)

Cornbread Wednesday

We Want Our Native!

Greetings, O minion of the greatest unknown band of the Rock era – Native!

Firstly, let us utter unto thy eyes our wishes, e’er so sincere, that thou hath observed a wonderful holiday season, with many blessings and thithings. May you, and your children, and their children’s children, and all of your long line find peace, love, drinkiness, and smokiness in this new year of our lord and taskmaster, Mat Hutt, who was born on December 25, 1237 b.c.

We are tardy in these betidings because of that recalcitrant knave, Dave, who lives in a cave, and will not behave, or make time between lashings to fulfill his quota of blogs. Scurrilous cur that he is, the feeble phrases of excusitude he offered gave us no recourse but to increase his torture. His words were anathema to our covenant — he’d been busying himself not on our behalf, but plying his efforts to the pursuit of making something called, “New music.” In shock, horror, and inertia, we digressed!

How, sayeth we, canst thy talents be cast so, in the vain quest for that which is not the true Native agenda? How canst thy already abhorrent countenance grow e’er more vile?

Sayeth his tongue with a smirk, “O reader of blogs, O members of the greatest band that no one but a chosen few hath witnessed – forgive my pleadings with more turns from your merciful whip, for I have strayed!

While the flock were still, I sallied forth and made music with shepherds from the nearby hills of Brooklyn, Bronx, and Hastings-On-Hudson. My co-conspirators also beg a lenient thirty lashings for laying down tracks in Satan’s Protools. My mixing and mastering cohort in evil has dethroned to the fallow basements of the New Hope Church, near Gowanus — working unto my songs a sound so pleasing, the angels will weep with antipathy.

Pray, my masters, you will forswear against reprisal upon our mistress of the internets, the crafty lass who has suffered to create a veritable portal to the stars — a website for my own domain in which I lurk and debauche with impunity and justice.

Click not this link, lest thy eyes behold the wonder of these labours:

www.davecave.me

The music, literature, art, and comic books found there will dazzle the soul of e’en the most tireless miscreant.

Do so in the faith and scepticism I have earned in my weekly vault-raiding, bloviating, humble servitude, and reverence to your memory. Hallowed be thy name – Native.

Knowest thou in thy hearts, O readers, that ‘pon the morn of Wednesday next, ye shall see revealed another piece of the puzzle – make that two pieces – in the enigmatic wonder, and conclusion, of the John Watts era as found in Nativology Vol. 3.

And we looked upon this work, and intoned in our least silly voice, “It is good.”

A Native Tribute to Jerry Garcia

A few weeks ago, we shared a couple of tunes from this extraordinary tape, recorded on 8-14-96, four days after the first anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia.

As a band, we were as indebted to Jerry’s legacy as any other band, for to be sure — his influence was almost omnipresent in the music of the day, and of the present, even with artists who might not be readily-associated in any way with The Grateful Dead.

We, having a certain Mike Jaimes in the band, were always going to have more than a touch of the Dead in our music, despite the fact that in the first four years of our existence, we had never covered a single song from the great American songbook of Jerome Garcia & Robert Hunter.

But, there was always the tacit understanding that Jerry was to Mike, what Chuck Berry was to Keith Richards – an all-pervasive influence. Mike assimilated Jerry so thoroughly that he was able to built on the influence, creating his own style which stands as unique from Jerry’s as, well, Keith is from Chuck Berry. And, Mike built a small army of fans who loved the connection whilst celebrating the evolution, and revolution of his mastery.

Despite all this, it was seen as a bold step for Native to finally step up to the plate and take a swing at a Dead tune. It was the event, and sad acknowledgement of Jerry’s passing that led to todays offerings, which include the song we deemed fitting for the event, and remains a treasured memory to this day. We returned to the tune a couple more times, always at a special moment or occasion requiring a life-affirming statement, of which it is a perfect example.

So, please enjoy this penultimate piece of Nativology Vol. 3, as we near the end of John Watt’s thrilling tenure with the band. We’ll have one more offering next week, and then we plan a little break before turning to the DAT shelf, and the onset of the fearsome Wykcoff Epoch, as will be found in Vol. 4, saints preserve us!

Now, kick back and get ready for a buttery slab of cornbread & Jagermeister, as we share four songs recorded deep within the hallowed edifices of McGovern’s Bar, located at the corner of Spring Street and the edge of the universe —

In Or Out
Love Your Love
Fragile Clown
The Wheel

Cornbread Wednesday

Another Cornbread Wednesday!

As with the last few posts, we’ve been going through the Native tapes from that hallowed era – 1996, when men were men, women were women, pants were optional, and Native was effing Native!

This week, to make up for being absent in our duties to bring you the best bloggage we possibly can last week, we give you not one, nor two, not even three, we give you four songs from the treasure trove of great McGovern’s tapes that were spun by our dear friend and manager, Paul Ducharme, and our equally dear aboriginal misfit/soundman, John Fitzwater.

We’d like you to think of these four cracking numbers as bonus tracks to our album, Live From Marmfington Farm, Vol. 1. For, lo! They emanate from the same time period that yielded the performances heard therein.

This particular night, many of the songs ended up incomplete on the tape that resides in our monolithic vaults deep beneath Mount Olympia in the garment district of Manhattan.

The tape is mind-bendingly incomplete – more songs are cut off than those that aren’t.

But, miraculously, these four astounding performances tell the tale of that fabled night. We begin as Mike Jaimes, arguably one of the greatest guitarists in the history of ever, teases the crowd with a small, delightful snatch of an iconic tune —

Interested Third Party (McGovern’s 6-3-96)
Big Boss Man (McGovern’s 6-3-96)
I Am (McGovern’s 6-3-96)
Corrina (McGovern’s 6-3-96)

Cornbread Wednesday

Ladies & Gentlemen, Mister John Watts!

This weeks Nativology excavation is, as far as we can remember, the only song John Watts wrote and sang lead on in his entire amazing 2005-07 tenure. Our memories of those smokey, smokey, drinky, drinky days are hazy at best, so don’t quote us on that one. As drummer Dave ‘Hollywood‘ Thomas continues to unearth rarities from our vault, we may yet find another example of his way with a melody. We sure hope so.

John is very good at arranging, which was the great boon of having him in the studio when the songs were in their nascent stages. Things like the middle bits of as tune — the solo, the breakdown, the bridge, or just the good old bog-standard one-note jam — all these things and more were John’s stock in trade. For the most part, Mat Hutt & John Wood were the songwriting dynamos, with Dave bringing in a tune now and then. Every great once in a while Mike Jaimes would bring in a song, but that was becoming more and more infrequent – he, like John, loved to delve into the arrangements. And if all that talent was stymied for an idea, we could count on Matt Lyons for that crucial way out of a musical painted corner.

It was a hothouse atmosphere of creativity at Marmfington Farm in the year of 1996, when Native ever so briefly added this really great tune to our setlists.

Listen for the excellent harmonies, the metaphor-laden lyrics and playful vocal of Mr. Watts. And, don’t miss the show-stopping solo by Mike.

Most bands would kill to have a song like it in their repertoire, but with a songlist bursting with riches, today’s featured tune suffered a very short shelf life. So far, this is the only recording we have of it.

So, thank goodness it’s a fantastic recording made by the staff at Wetlands — Dave Nolan and John Laterza.

Ladies & Gents — here’s John Watts schooling us all about the beast within, the —

Tyrannosaurus