Astronomy Night at SCR

Astronomy nights are back! Don’t miss out on the chance to view galaxies, star clusters, and planets with Spring Creek Ranch’s Naturalist Department and Wyoming Stargazing’s Dr. Samuel Singer. You might even see shooting stars, sun spires, and the northern lights through a large collection of telescopes and the latest astronomy software available on your smartphone!

Learn more here.

The Coolest Guy in Jackson

Jackson is full of really cool people. You can easily run into pro snowboarders like Travis Rice or celebrities like Harrison Ford. In my opinion though, the coolest guy in Jackson is the bassist Bill Plummer. Lucky for Spring Creek Ranch guests, he’s easy to track down because he plays at the Granary on Friday nights.

Plummer is the sort of guy who whispers follow. Every time I see him play, someone is leaning over to me whispering, “that guy played with the Rolling Stones,” or “that guy played with the Grateful Dead.”He’s been playing jazz since his elementary school days in the 1940s and it seems like the man has played with everyone. I’ve always wanted to corner him on one of his breaks during a set at the Granary and get an in-depth conversation going. I mean, the man was in the studio with the Rolling Stones as they recorded the album “Exile on Main St.” He’s got to have some incredible stories floating just below the surface of his cool jazz persona. I always say hi. I believe I’ve even attempted some prying phrases, like, “wow, so, you’ve played with everyone!?” The thing is, they guy is just too darn cool. The idea of pushing him for information on musical greats makes me feel like a band geek.

I’ve noticed a trend in really cool people over the years. People who have absolutely fascinating lives always seem to be fully immersed in the present moment and not all that interested in spending hours reminiscing about their fascinating past. This is probably what has made them so successful. They keep moving forward, working, looking ahead and, therefore, their life is always becoming more interesting. New great things are always in the works because they don’t spend a ton of time dwelling on the past.

So, as I’m asking dopey, subtle questions, trying to get Plummer to spill his juicy stories to me, he’s just being a normal, cool guy. He’s talking about the night, the weather, the audience, and the music. He’s talking about Pam or Keith Phillips or any of his other fellow musicians on the stage that night. He’s being so fricken cool as everyone geeks out around him.

Here’s the basic scoop. Plummer has played with Willie Nelson, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Quincy Jones and Tony Bennett. That is list is just some highlights from a long, long list. He’s studied with Mony Budwig, Herman Reinshang, the principal bassist for the New York Philharmonic, and Ravi Shankar’s school for Indian music. He was constantly learning. In between all the learning he was consistently working, something that he says was easy to do in those days. He went on the road with clarinetist Buddy DeFranco and flutist Paul Horn. He was part of the groups Hindustani Jazz Sextet, Cosmic Brotherhood, Jazz Corps, Gas Food and Lodging, Wild Rose Ramblers, and Spanky and Our Gang. He also played with Tony Bennett’s band, usually at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles. The man was busy!

Now, he lives in Felt, Idaho and plays at the Granary where we are all lucky enough to get to hear a true music aficionado. I’m not cool enough to do it but somebody needs to sit Plummer down and get all the gritty, behind the scenes stories out of him.  I’ve tried. I can’t. Please, one of you cool people, go to the Granary on Friday night and find out all the insider information for me and report back. I know there are some really good stories to be heard but I’m not cool enough to procure them.

Pam Drew Phillips: Fridays at the Granary

I’m not a small town girl; so living in Jackson Hole can leave me wanting in variety in cultural experiences. For the size of the town, Jackson has an incredible amount of art and music. At first glace, the choices seem to be overwhelming. Many of the choices repeat weekly however, and it doesn’t take long to realize that you will have to look off the beaten path to find quality new attractions.

Luckily for me, my parents also live in Jackson Hole and expose me to experiences most locals in their twenties miss. A few years ago my dad called and invited me to a Friday night dinner at the Granary. With excitement in his voice, he said, “Oh, man! Do they have good jazz.” My curiosity was peaked. Raised outside of Chicago, my father is a jazz fan from way back and when he says there is good jazz I believe him.

When I first moved to Jackson Hole, six years ago, I worked at the Mangy Moose Saloon and was constantly answering questions about the upcoming bands. I found that I could always say, “It’s sorta a mix of rock, blue-grass, funk.” I could know nothing about the band, but with this trusty statement I was usually on target. I love music, rock, blue grass and funk included, but the repetitive nature of the music available in the valley can grow stale. It’s Pam Drew Phillips unique offering as well as her skill as a musician that makes her such a stand out in the music selection of Jackson Hole.

The first time I saw Pam perform up at the Granary I was completely charmed by the entire experience. This bright, petite blonde was chopping away at a grand piano and singing her heart out. She played standards I’d typically associated with Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole as well as a variety of other jazz, sometimes even swaying toward rag-time that were all new to me. Pam was enthralling and engaging, taking requests and joking around with the audience.

Now I’ve been numerous times. Most memorably one fantastic New Year’s Eve where we only intended to stay until 9:30 or so, but ended up toasting in the New Year with champagne, jazz and Pam. Usually, there is at least a trio performing. Sometimes musicians seem to show up half way through the set and magically blending into the group. I’ve always been impressed by the quality of music that is performed. My dad is always leaning over, saying, “This is quality stuff, kid. You can’t find better in Chicago or New York.” I’m prone to believe him.

Pam started her career in her in her hometown of Chicago. Moving to New York City, she established herself as a respected musician. She worked as a conductor on Broadway, including the shows “Evita” and “Crazy For You”. While in New York, she also played the keyboard for Broadway shows and films. While there she also performed with notable companies such as the American Symphony and the New York City Ballet Orchestra. Some high points in her jazz career include working with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Manhattan Rhythm Kings. After cementing her career in New York City, she moved to Jackson in 1996 to raise her son.

If you are looking for talented musicians or love jazz, you need to head up to the Granary on Friday nights to see the trio or Saturday to see Pam solo. Take advantage of the view, great food and wonderful music. If you are visiting from out of town, be ready to be surprised by the quality of music. Come prepared to request your favorite jazz standard and shimmy your shoulders. I hope I see you there.