In local country music circles, some names always produce a shake of the head and a story: Country Joe Flint of KSOP Radio is one, Jack Quist of Cow Jazz is another. And perhaps the wiliest of them all is promoter Jim "Too Tall" Hall.

"Too Tall," who stands just under 7 feet with his cowboy boots on, is the promoter of choice for just about every worthwhile country band, country club and coyote in the state. Utah is a right-to-work state, but if you want to work steadily and play some of the top-ranked places, you best take a look at Too Tall Productions."I once had 50 bands working for me," Hall says today. "Then I had a heart attack. Now I have 35 bands working for me."

A native of California, where he grew up neighbors with Bonnie Raitt, Hall dabbled with music for a while, but found he didn't have the temperament for it.

"Today, I have no more desire to get on stage than fly to the moon," he says. "When I get up on a stage, my legs look like swinging doors. What I really wanted to do years ago was study engineering and play basketball for BYU."

But one thing led to another, and before long, Too Tall was the road manager for the legendary Utah band, Cow Jazz. When Cow Jazz broke up, Hall was asked to take on another band. His first week, he had one band to promote, a few days later he had 15. He's been adding to his collection ever since.

Some call him "stubborn," some say he's "relentless." Too Tall himself prefers the adjectives "aggressive" and "hard-nosed."

"Over the years, I've developed some real friendship with the club owners and the bands," he says. "And we have a ritual where the bands show up at my house every Sunday to pay me. They sit around, watch football games on television and talk with each other. The bands are what have given me any success I've had."

And it has been at those Sunday pay tables where much of the Too Tall folklore has gotten its start.

There was that time when Hank Williams Jr. pulled up in his bus, ran over Too Tall's mailbox and told the promoter to "climb on, we'll be gone for five days." Hall climbed on and was gone for 15 weeks.

Or the outings with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Oak Ridge Boys and Emmy Lou Harris. "People would give them all these gifts," he says. "And they'd pass them along. We all came home with some pretty great gifts."

But despite his forays into the national market (and he's making a few this month), Hall still prefers to work small.

"God bless Jim McNeil and what he does," says Too Tall, "but I really like working with local clubs and bands."

And two decades of doing that have given the promoter some special local insights. Hall figures he's seen 100 clubs come and go. Currently, he figures as many as 250 live bands are working in the state. And needless to say, he's seen his share of high jinks. The time a band named itself "Free Beer," put its name on a club marquee and almost caused a riot. And then there are all those cameras, recorders and guitars the Too Tall "pawn shop" has taken in as payment.

Hall's hard-won advice to budding bands?

"Stay current. This is a country rock town."

His advice to budding musicians?

"Steel guitar and fiddles have fallen off. Think about dual lead guitars."

His advice to all musicians and clubs?

"Give me a call."

In the end, Hall may never own that distant "house on the hill" that crops up in his conversation. He may never get that engineering degree or soar with the likes of The Eagles. But he's come to honestly like his friends in lower places - the lead singers with golden pipes and behavior disorders, the skittish drummers, the club owners who have dreams and no dollars. More than like them, he's come to trust and believe in them.

"Years ago," he says, "I almost believed people in the clubs here would rather drink than listen to the music. So I pulled some bands out of clubs, and watched the interest in the clubs decline. Then I put those bands in new clubs, and I watched the interest in those clubs go up. The bands in this state really do care about how they look and how they sound. And so do the people who listen to those bands."

Call him what you will: Too Tough, Too Ornery, Too Ambitious, the truth is "Too Tall" Hall is "The Man" when it comes to booking bands in Utah. And he's pulled himself to that level by his own bootstraps.

If you don't believe it, just check out some of the local folklore.