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Shooter's renewed sense of purpose – and ability to rub noses with hotties like The Sopranos' Drea De Matteo, who also traveled to Phoenix for the party – threaten to carry him far. Last March, Shooter covered "I've Always Been Crazy" with Stargunn and Dad's longtime backing outfit, the Waymore's Blues Band, at a memorial concert for Waylon at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He later found himself in negotiation with labels and hooked up with Morello. The guitarist produced a five-song EP for Stargunn on Epic's dime, essentially a demo for landing an inevitable record deal.
"He went in and helped us simplify what we already had," Shooter said of Morello. He also calls Morello "our guru."
"They're managed by a friend of mine," said a giddy Morello of his budding protégés. "Originally, it was what we call friend rock.' You go see your friend's thing. You see them one time, and you go and support them." Morello came away from the gig wanting instantly to work with Shooter – he referred to Stargunn's hit-ready songs as "a license to print money."
Fine, but why make this trip to the Valley?
"Jessi lured me," he joked. "I would have come anyway. I'm a huge horse-racing fan, and a Secretariat fan. Waylon owned a lock of Secretariat's mane. [Jessi] told me if I came out here, she'd show me."
Hetfield, in purple shades and knee-length snakeskin coat, just came to hang with friends.
"I've known Shooter for a little while, I guess since the Lollapalooza thing. That's when I really got to know him. He was doing an electronica type of thing, a Nine Inch Nails sound." He laughs. "I like this a lot better!"
Colter and her son aren't done grieving quite yet. They're putting together a Waylon tribute album, featuring covers by Kid Rock, Travis Tritt, John Mellencamp, Hank Williams Jr., Pinmonkey and Hetfield. That'll come out on RCA sometime this spring. And there'll surely be more toasting and memorializing and opportunities to remember the life and legacy of the hard-livin' patriarch.
But on this night, Jessi Colter and Shooter Jennings were out doing their own thing, partying like rock stars and partying with them all over the Valley (the party moved to Handlebar J in Scottsdale for an after-hours jam session). And the only thing that mattered was now.
I need to praise the new Nita's Hideaway once again: The new space, at 3300 South Price in Tempe, is magnificent and already stands as the best room for bands in town. Opening night on December 29 brought the Reverend Horton Heat, but it also brought an enormous patio for smokers, lounge areas for fans looking to escape from the noise, two vibrant bars and sensational acoustics. Catch a show there soon. It's an experience.
Joe Strummer's death two weeks ago brought this e-mail remembrance from Keith Jackson of the local band Glass Heroes. Jackson met with the affable ex-Clash front man after a gig by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros at the Cajun House in Scottsdale in 2001: "Joe asked me if there was somewhere to go for a beer. I told him there was a small bar up the street (ACME Roadhouse) that might still be open. Go go go!' he said. We all rushed out the back in direction of said bar. He was walking faster than a sprinter as we were ahead of everyone else. I laughed and told him I could hardly keep up! He then told me that Bob Marley once said, If you walk fast enough, the people who can't keep up with you aren't worth talking to.' Then he smiled and said . . . I think it was Marley' . . . that was one of my life's moments that will never be forgotten. Walking next to my personal hero. We talked about the seemingly shallow soul of music today. He said, People seem to be afraid of saying something, of mixing music with a greater urgency to communicate a message that needs to be heard.' This is a tragedy."