If you’re just getting here, you can make it to Part 1 of this story here.
So I left off at the fact I’d noticed my friend, Jon had a lot of pictures with Shooter Jennings. I’ve been a fan of Shooter’s for many years. One Cute Cowboy was quite the fan as well. In fact, I remember being so tickled at how excited OCC was when he realized I had a couple of Shooter’s albums. I thought to myself, “He might be an even bigger fan than me!”
Fast Forward about 3 years to present day. Every year Dalhart, TX has what they call XIT. It’s a celebration accompanied by a parade, a BBQ, 3 nights of rodeo, and 3 nights of live music. This years line up consisted of Charlie Robinson, The Cody Bryan Band, and none other than Shooter Jennings. One Cute Cowboy was beside himself excited!! Neither of us could believe he was gonna be just 45 minutes from home, in the little town of Dalhart. I saw him once years ago with my cousin, sister, and brother-in-law, at a big venue with a lot of different artist. He was awesome then, so I was looking forward to seeing him in a asmaller venue.
We decided to skip the rodeo and just go to the concert/dance. We got there fairly early, cruised the merch table, listened to the two opening bands, and did a lot of dancing. Luckily we were close to the stage when Shooter came on. We stood there and watched him and sang along the whole night. He was as good as I remembered (even if he had cut his beautiful Jessie Coulter-like hair.)
Midway through his set he said he was dedicating his next song to his good friend, Jon. I immediately knew he was talking about my friend, Jon. It was such a good song, and I wish I knew the title. But all I could think of was how surreal it was that here I am, 6 years after meeting Jon, never imagining he’d be my connecting “degree” to Shooter Jennings. I knew I wanted the chance to tell Shooter I knew Jon, and I was sorry to hear of his passing. I only knew one of Jon’s close friends and I wanted the chance to give my condolences to someone he was truly close to.
After the show was over and he ended with one of OCC’s favorite songs, 4th of July, we headed to the merch table to snag some t-shirts and ask if Shooter might be coming out. She kindly said no, but said he’d be just around the corner outside, if I wanted to try to catch him there. So we went outside and around the building. He was standing back there but there was a fence around the area he was standing in. We started walking around it to get over to the side he was standing closest to in hopes of getting the chance to talk to him. A few girls had followed us over to the other side, I’m sure in hopes of talking to him as well.
We stood there for a minute or two, feelings a little funny because he could obviously see us, standing there, staring! Haha! That’s gotta be awkward. One of his security guys walked over and said something to him, I saw him shake his head and say, “it’s okay, I’ve got it.” And started walking over to where we were. I immediately said, “Hey Shooter! Hey I knew Jon.” He paused, looked at me and said, “No shit?” A wide grin swept across his face. I told him that I lived in Nashville about 5 years ago and how I met Jon when they were promoting Wanda Jackson’s album at the Opry. He extended his left arm to me, exposing a couple of tattoos, one was his mom’s name just below the inside of his elbow, and right below that he pointed. He said, “These here are the coordianantes to Jon’s grave. He was my very best friend.” I got choked up telling him how sorry I was to hear of his passing. He said it was a sad deal, and how they still talk about Jon every single day. He then went on to say how Jon molded him into the man he was today. Then he kinda laughed and said, “So you live…here?” I laughed and told him how I’d grown up just 45 minutes away, and actually went to South Plains in Levelland, he quickly added they’d just been through Littlefield that day to see family.
Waylon Jennings grew up in Littlefield, TX just 20 minutes from Levelland, where he donated quite a bit of money to the college I attended, so it was all connected. Then I told him I moved to Nashville and only lived a block from his dad’s house in Brentwood. He looked at me shocked, and asked, “What was your address?” I told him and he was amazed that he knew exactly where I was talking about. He told me that was the house he actually grew up in, that he spent many a nights at the Waffle House there on the corner. It was all so incredibly surreal. All these small, but significant connections. Then I told him I moved home for awhile, and met my now husband and we’ve been here ever since. He quickly extended his hand to Riley and said it was really nice to meet him. We talked a little longer, and then I told him I hated to take up all his time, I knew there were others anxious to talk to him, I just wanted to tell him that I, too, knew Jon, and how he was one-of-a-kind. He shook my hand and said he was really glad I did, before leaving he said, “Any friend of Jon’s is a lifetime friend of mine.”
I couldn’t help but tear up just a bit, thinking of how, if Jon had been alive, he would’ve been there that night. (He was Shooter’s manager too, I forgot to mention that.) I could’ve introduced OCC to him. We would’ve chatted and it would’ve been so funny to see each other in such an odd place, considering where we’d met.
OCC and I both kicked ourselves for not snagging a picture with Shooter before we left. But I guarantee that’s a night neither of us will forget, and I have a feeling Shooter won’t either. We surprised him for sure, and he surprised us a little too. He was so incredibly kind, and truly interested in what we had to say, and you could tell enjoyed talking to us too. It was truly a surreal moment. You never know how close in “degrees” you are to someone. We live in a pretty cool world.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Part 2 of 6 Degrees of Seperation. I’ve left you with a playlist at the bottom that seems only fitting. Sorry this took me longer than I intended for it to to get posted. Thanks for reading!