Scott sat in with Gov't Mule for our encore of Neil Young's 'Cortez The Killer.' No rehearsal whatsoever, we just winged it, Scott playing totally by instinct and intuition. He did a great job.

-Warren Haynes

Scott Metzger with Gov't Mule

This time off also gave Scott time to check his own personal inventory. After being on the road for so long, he'd stopped practicing and progressing on the guitar. He explains, "When you're doing shows every night, things get so crazy. If you're on the road and whatnot, you can't find time to really sit down and practice new ideas, and you fall back into stock ideas and playing the same things every night. I'd become really frustrated with my own playing at that point and didn't feel like I was making a lot of progress, so I started putting in seven to nine hours a day for six months or so." He recalls that he worked on more than just guitar, "As I started to practice more, I also quit drinking, which turned out to be a pretty big factor in my life. With the combination of not drinking and practicing all the time, my phone really started to ring. All the partying and stuff was ultimately slowing up my progress. As soon as I quit drinking, things started to get better miraculously."

RANA by Steve Chernin
When asked if he was tempted to leave RANA during those frustrating eight months, he admits, "There was thinking like that going on in my head, but RANA is a vital music outlet for me, whether it's 20 people or 2000 people in the audience. I get off on playing in that band. If I didn't, I wouldn't have gone back. The RANA thing has a lot of integrity behind it because we do what we want. A lot of bands out there sound the same and play by an established formula. RANA doesn't do that and I love that about RANA."

During this time off, Scott started playing with his old friends Marco Benevento and Joe Russo in a side-project called Duo/Zeppelin, which later became Bustle in Your Hedgerow with the addition of Ween bass player Dave Dreiwitz. Jake Szufnarowski and NYC-Freaks founder Aaron Stein came up with the concept in 2003. They thought it would be cool to get The Duo and Scott to play an all Led Zeppelin covers set on one of Jake's Rocksoff cruises around Manhattan [the show is available for free download in The Duo section of]. According to Scott, "It was basically a present to Jake on his 30th birthday. I never went through a Zeppelin phase, but I would do anything for Jake, so I learned all the tunes and people just went completely nuts. I couldn't believe the reaction on that first boat cruise. There were only 200 people on that boat, but it was one of those nights where people were totally floored." The trio was able to get a surprisingly full and accurate sound from their all-instrumental arrangements of Zeppelin classics with Marco playing both the bass and vocals on organ. Scott's tone, attack, and phrasing were so dead on Page that it's surprising to hear him say, "I never studied the tone or anything about Jimmy Page. I've never been a big fan. I guess I do have that rock blues thing but coming from a Duane Allman influence."

Scott Metzger by Greg Aiello
One of the 200 people on that boat cruise was drummer Stanton Moore of Galactic. As Scott remembers, "[Stanton] saw the first Duo/Zeppelin boat cruise, and we kind of talked a little that night. A few months later, me, Joe, and Marco were playing down at Tips [in New Orleans as Duo/Zeppelin] one night, and Stanton showed up and ended up getting on stage with us. We ended up going out and having a full-blown New Orleans night till the next morning. We really hit it off, and he played me some music at his house, stuff that I had never heard, really old-school New Orleans stuff with Zigaboo on drums and Johnny Vidacovich and stuff like that. I didn't know anything about that music, but it hit close to home and definitely got me thinking about a different groove than just a straight rock beat." This relationship led not only to a friendship with Moore, but a surprising sit-in with Galactic at their last New York City show. At first, a scruffy jeans and flannel shirt wearing Metzger seemed out of place jumping in after Eric Krazno of Soulive on the Galactic original "Church." He quickly won the crowd's attention playing a jazzy, funked-up solo that didn't sound like anything he'd ever played with RANA. It was head-turning for folks who had never heard of Scott or RANA and especially for anyone who only identified Scott's playing with post-punk rock-and-roll. Scott, who eventually did graduate with a jazz guitar degree from William Patterson, explains this change in his style. "You get stuck in a rut musically. I'd just closed my mind off to the funk, sort of jazzy thing. I didn't think that I had anything to express in that sort of genre, but again going back and practicing for those six months and really started hitting it again helped. I think I had been in the rock thing for a long time, and it just opened up a bunch of doors for me, like playing Sonny Rollins-influenced lines or stuff that I had really put away for a long time. I started listening to records that I hadn't listened to in years — just bringing that side of me back up. There was definitely a change in my head, and I just kind of grew musically."

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