The Bear, The Columbian and The Moments on Beech Mountain

The Bear, The Columbian and The Moments on Beech Mountain

Published by: David Cate
June 10, 2024

It's hard to choose where to begin. Face to face with a brown bear in North Carolina, the Columbian or the moment I turned to Mary and said, "Somebody ought to buy this land and build homesites so people could soak in the luxury of the Appalachian Highlands."

She looked back and said, "You think?"

That's about the extent of my humor. We both turned to the sunset in the valley below and knew we were fortunate to be playing on stage at the Beech Mountain Golf Club for a private party.

Driving up from Tennessee, the June morning had lifted to a lush day in the mountains, shades of green against the perfect lapis sky. Driving up the winding road to the top of Beech Mountain, my thoughts were rushing back and forth from my last visit to this peak in the North Carolina mountains. I was doing my best in a blended family and playing Cards Against Humanity as we all started to let our guard down with the girls, their boyfriends, and the winds of change.

As I continued to the mountain's Northside, the GPS located the golf club, and the stage was stunning from the road. The performers can play with the backdrop of a natural vista across the mountains, and a grass lawn with a three-story balcony provides the perfect setting for another unforgettable meeting.

Before the show started, I was returning from the Jeep with a change of clothes. Walking up the hairpin turn to the Country Club, 20 feet ahead was a brown bear. I'm sure he bristled just like me. Still, fortunately, we both kept moving toward our end goals and, thankfully, in separate directions.

Samantha donned her jungle cat dress and red cat-eye glasses and sparked up the first set with our mix of R&B Soul.

This weekend was a little unusual for the Samantha Gray band. Charlie had an injury to his back and could not make the gig. His role is critical to this type of music, and I wasn't sure of the outcome when we heard the news.

Fortunately, John contacted Tommy Starnes. Tommy has played bass with almost everyone in the region for decades, and after a few days of rehearsals, he was indeed the only one we could have depended on. I've never played music with Tommy; this gig was our first. I called him "The Rock" before, and it still holds more than ever. By our second night this weekend, we were ready to enjoy ourselves—and we did.

Jake had the band sounding good, and when we broke for our set break, I went upstairs. At the top of the stairs, an attractive woman was ecstatic watching what appeared to be football on television. She was way more excited than the crowd, which was already having a good time.

On the way back, her husband was back, and she introduced me to his Columbian wife, who loves football. Recently married, they were hanging out in the mountains for the weekend, and they enjoyed our music. They asked if we ever played house parties. My first response was, "It depends on the house." He was serious.

Nevertheless, it was a real treat to meet everyone on the mountain. By the end, the only noise you could hear was the night breeze of the North Carolina mountains brushing against the leaves below. For the first time, there were no trains in the distance, very little air traffic, and the best of times on the mountain—another good memory to move on to the next.