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.