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.