6 Degrees of Seperation: Part 2

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!


6 Degrees of Seperation: Part 1

I’ve read that everyone knows everyone by 6 degrees of seperation or less. In fact, my friend, Lindsey and I used to play this game all the time when we would be bored at work. We’d give two name of people, and see if we could connect them. It was a fun game that passed the time on a slow day at the Opry. 

There’s a cool story behind this photo that’s only become a bigger part of a really cool story. Let me try to start at the beginning.

One rainy night in January 2011, I was working down at the Opry shop downtown, Opry Originals. It was rare for me to be working there on the night of a show, but Wanda Jackson was coming down to the shop after her Opry performance to do a record signing, so they had me there instead of the Ryman Auditorium. I was so excited to get to see her, after all she was an Oklahoma girl too. She was known in the 50’s as the “Queen of Rockabilly” and man could she rock. She had a southern western style mixed in with a rock n’ roll sound.

As I said it was kind of a dreary night, and unfortunately not as many people showed up to the signing as there usually would have been. There were many, but not just overhwhelmingly so. When Wanda came in a young man, in his late 20’s walked in with her. He stood over with her while she signed, then as the crowd started to thin he started walking around the shop, shopping. He picked up a few things and headed up to the counter. There’s no way to really describe what he looked like. The best way I can is by saying he was like a 1970’s Dwight Yokum, without the hat. Not to mention his subtle afro hairstyle. He reverberated “cool.” In fact my first thought was, “oh man, this guy thinks he’s too cool for school,” but that thought quickly evaporated when he started speaking to me. He was very kind, and introduced himself as Jon. He asked questions about his items he wanted to purchase, he asked if I liked working there at the Opry, just making small talk. Then he asked, “Do you  like Wanda Jackson?” I replied, “Well of course!” And he asked if I’d like to meet her, and I replied, a little shocked, “Of course I would!”

Technically we weren’t “aloud” as Opry employees to act like fans. Our music-guy was nice enough to at least get an autograph for me on one of her single vinyls, but I wasn’t aloud to get it myself, and I certainly wasn’t aloud to take any pictures! But the crowd was gone, it was just us workers (3 of us) and Jon and Wanda. So Jon led me over to introduce me to Wanda and asked if I wanted a picture, I thought what the heck! I’m gonna do it!  And so as you can see I got the picture above and got to chit-chat with Wanda Jackson for about 10 minutes. I was floating on cloud 9!! I later got in trouble by my manager, but it was worth it. I found out Jon was actually Wanda’s manager, so I figured no harm, no foul. Wanda didn’t seem to mind.

Before Jon left he asked if I’d want one of her vinyls when her new album came out, I said of course I would and he got my email and that was that. I figured he was probably just trying to do some good promoting before her record release and I’d probably never get that vinyl, but that was okay, it was nice of him letting me meet her. I was already ecstatic about the night I’d had!

Several weeks passed by and I get this email from a Jon asking for my address. I quickly remember where I knew the name and shot him an email back. About a week later I received The Party Ain’t Over on vinyl. I couldn’t believe this guy that I randomly met was nice enough to do this! He kept his word and continued to do so. He was an incredibly sincere person and I came to realize that very quickly. 
We became friends on Facebook and one night he messaged me asking if I’d be interested in coming to one of Wanda’s shows downtown at Robert’s. Robert’s was by far my favorite bar on Broadway, so I decided to go. Jon met me outside the door and I could see they’d already started “one in, one out” so I cringed at thinking about standing out there most the night. Jon greeted me and asked me to follow him, he started taking me around to the alley, I was a bit nervous I’ll admit, after all I didn’t really know this guy and I was following him to an alleyway, but then we went through the back door of Robert’s, up a flight of stairs, and there we were, in Robert’s VIP balcony. It was the perfect place to get to see Wanda’s performance!

Photo Credit: The Symmetric (Click Photo for Website)

There were a handful of other nights like that one. He was always so gracious with his knowledge of different music venues and shows and what was happening where, and always a gentleman. He knew so many different people, famous people, but you’d never know it. He was never boisterous about it, when he very easily could have been. He was kind, and genuine to everyone he had contact with. When I try to find the words to describe Jon, I never fully know what to say; he was seriously one of the coolest, most original, sincere people I’ve ever met. 

The last time I saw Jon he’d invited me out to a Dwight Yokum tribute (funny coincidence) in East Nashville. It was a fun night, with some good bands. Not long after that night, I moved back home and heard from Jon once or twice about coming to different shows. 

In 2015 I heard Jon passed away. It saddened me to know such an interesting, talented, genuine soul was gone. His knowledge for music and the music industry was impeccable. I didn’t know Jon near as well as so many others, but for a short while I had a friendship with him. Even after I moved home I kept up with his Facebook and Instagram, all the crazy and exciting things he was up to. I started to notice more and more photos of he and Shooter Jennings together. I remember thinking, “Man, that guy knows everyone!” Never imagining where that would lead me…
Stick around for Part 2 of 6 Degrees of Seperation, I plan on posting Thursday, 17th. Hope you tune in!