Native Live At Wetlands June 1995

Hey folks!

We here at Native International Headquarters have been pretty excited ever since I, Dave Thomas, the drummer, made a big discovery deep in our labrynthian vaults.

If we were to wish for a particular gig to have been recorded in such a way that it could be remixed as a proper album, this show would be high on the list.

After months of touring to promote our eponymous first album, we had built up an armada of new songs for the follow-up release. And fortunately, that’s exactly what happened.

The headliner that night was Robbie Krieger of The Doors and special recording gear was brought in to capture that occasion. As the opening act, Native took advantage of the opportunity to do some capturing as well!

And, it’s a good thing. Little did we know that very shortly thereafter, John Epstein would leave, and our album plans would be shelved indefinitely.

Months went by before we settled on a new keyboardist – the effervescent John Watts – by which time we had accumulated even more new songs.

The fallout from all that was that several prime Native tunes never made it to the studio. Indeed it would be three years and a live album before another studio effort was done.

So, out of the past we find this golden treasure – a wonderful night with hardly a wrong note or forgotten lyric, and several extremely rare songs for you to feast upon! Mat Hutt and John Wood were so on you might forget the word off even exists! Mike Jaimes is on fire on every tune, especially his rarely-played Rolling Thunder which has an immaculate performance here.  John Epstein’s Hot Day should make everyone lament that his tenure could not have been longer. And let’s mention Mat Hutt again because his rarities are sublime, and criminally under-represented in our archives. It’s just an astounding set list.

However, there is a caveat – isn’t there always a caveat?

The tape didn’t start rolling until about thirty seconds after we’d begun playing. I, Dave Thomas, the drummer, took it upon myself to blend in bits of a recording made two months earlier at the same venue. Many of the songs from that night matched up with the night we are presenting, with one major difference. I, Dave Thomas, the drummer, was in California. Which means that the drum chair was helmed that night by the incredible Roy Mayorga.

So, the opening bars of “Carried Away” are from that other tape, but also something extra and special. The version of “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” is also from that earlier night, so here’s our very belated tribute and thank you to Roy for sitting in while I was off trying to make a movie in Hollywood.

So, here you have it — our Christmas gift to you —

Native Live at Wetlands June 1995

 

 

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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

Catherine Russell wants some action (and Native’s got it!)

20140604-015659-7019782.jpgThere are a lot of great singers in this talent-filled world, but one thing we all agreed on in Native, was that Catherine Russell was our favorite singer. Catherine had briefly been in a band with Dave and Mike, before the Native epoch began in 1992 a.d. Dave had seen her singing with a cover band in Greenwich Village, and was wowed by her powerful voice, and marveled at how such a big sound could emanate from such a petite lady. But, it was her performance on several Meters tunes that sent him scurrying to curry favour, convinced she was destined for the big time. And, besides… Meters tunes. (The Meters are a constant factor in the Native chronology, but Dave & Mike were already playing quite a lot of their material.) She agreed against all better judgement to come down to The Radon Room, Dave’s studio on Mott Street, and meet this motley assemblage called The Illbillies (aside from Dave & Mike, there was Craig Robison, Sean Pace, and Grant). Catherine played with the band for a few weeks, and we have some pretty great tapes in the vault from this time-period. But sadly, she then decided that although she liked us all personally, we were indeed quite motley, not just in appearance, but in our playing. We just weren’t tight. But, she encouraged us to keep going, and we did. The Illbillies would burn through two more singers before calling it a day without ever playing one gig. Chastened by the gigless end to that band’s journey, Mike & Dave intrepidly trudged onward, recording a demo of a song that had been a stalwart entry at every Illbilly rehearsal – Dave’s Something Worth Remembering (as heard on Nativology Vol. 1). And with that, history was written in lighting! In the coming years, Native got tight, and Catherine returned for the occasional guest spot in our shows, and they were all a highlight. Believe it, when she sings, it’s magic time! Our favorite singer – Her Royal Majesty – a true Lady of Soul – the ever-amazing Catherine Russell.

Action (Wetlands 1997)

Cornbread Wednesday

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

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

Twisting, turning, flying, burning…

Adding John Watts to the band had really paid off and, by the summer of 1996, the band was really running smooth on all cylinders. Constant, relentless rehearsal and gigging resulted in a band that was air-tight, confident, and armed with the largest playbook of our existence!

In the midst of all the chaos, we continued to write new material, and we were sure-enough of ourselves to play the new music in public, letting it grow and evolve before laying down the demo on our trusty Tascam 8-track recorder.

This week’s tune is a very impressive Mat Hutt composition, inspired by a comment made by our manager, Paul Ducharme.

Paul, ever vigilant against the incursion of fake-hippies into our real-hippies scene, had coined the term ‘krevelers’ to describe those who look, sound, and dress like hippies, but who were actually predators — taking advantage of the naiveté exhibited by so many of us flower children.

Paul’s comment came in the early hours of morning after a gig, when most folks have gone home, but there were a few still hanging around that seemed to have an awful lot of energy considering the hour. “It’s just another junkie sunrise.”

That was all Mat needed to put on his dramatist’s hat and put himself in the place of a lost soul, on the brink of destruction, living not from day-to-day, but score-to-score. He envisioned that soul having a moment of clarity, perhaps the only one of the day, as a stark colorless sun rises overhead.

I’m pretty sure he got some help from Woody and Paul along the way, but however it came about, and whoever helped develop it — it’s a Native masterpiece, in my opinion.

This version comes from August, 14, 1996 and, appropriately, it was the last song of a long set which puts it at the right hour — around four a.m.

Our good buddy and compatriot, Kregg Ajamu, can be heard trading off with Mat at the end.

The band would pack up, go home and sleep, but for some tortured souls in the room, what awaited was a —

Junkie Sunrise