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Beech Music

By Makenzie Holland (

Article Published: Jul. 10 | Modified: Jul. 10
Beech Music

Concerts return to Fred’s General Mercantile on Beech Mountain this July and August.

Photo submitted


Fred’s General Lineup

All concerts take place at 6:30 p.m. Sundays at Fred’s General Mercantile.

• July 13 – The Cockman Family
• July 20 – Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys
• July 27 – Strictly Clean and Decent
• Aug. 3 – Rebecca Eggers-Gryder with Amantha Mill
• Aug. 10 – Diana and Sarvis Ridge

Nearly 20 years ago, an idea was hatched to start a summer concert series on Beech Mountain — a series that has only grown as years continue to roll by.

The time has come once again for Fred’s General Mercantile, located on Beech Mountain, to present this annual concert series that was developed by owner Fred Pfohl and his wife, Margie, many years ago. Admission is free, and coolers are permitted on the premises. Seating is provided, but Fred’s business manager Bernie Knepka said bringing a chair is always a good idea.

“We usually have a few hundred people at each concert,” Knepka said. “The bands perform out of the gazebo that’s on our lawn.”

This year’s concert series starts Sunday, July 13, at 6:30 p.m. The first band performing will be The Cockman Family.

Pfohl said the idea for the concert series developed from a purely entertainment perspective.

“Our idea was to provide entertainment on Sunday evenings for the folks on Beech Mountain after a busy weekend,” Pfohl said. “We got, I think, Joe Shannon, who was the Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys originator and a good friend of ours, to do the first concert for us, and we kind of went from there.”

Pfohl said he started out presenting three bands for the first couple of years, and now he presents five. The series always starts one week following the Fourth of July weekend.

“The whole deal is that we try to promote local groups that are usually on the bluegrass theme or country music,” Pfohl said. “We start off with The Cockman Family this year. They’re one of the favorite groups with the great music they do. They’re not real local, but they’re somebody everybody loves.”

The Cockman Family is a group that consists of exactly what the name suggests — family. John Cockman Sr. introduced music into his children’s lives at young ages, and it has now spiraled into the current music group.

“Well, my wife and I, I guess that was one of our attractions early on,” Cockman said. “She played the piano, and I played the guitar. After we got married, that’s still what we did. We started raising children, and that’s still what we did. They were around music all the time.”

What started as singing in the car, in the yard and at church has turned into a collectively talented group of professional performing artists.

Billy Cockman is the current National Banjo Champion, Ben Cockman has won several flat-pick guitar championships, and Caroline Cockman Fisher was chosen by PowerGrass Internet Radio as the 2011 Songwriter of the Year.

In 2011, the Southern Branch Bluegrass Radio named the entire group the Bluegrass Gospel Group of the Year.

“When you’re poor, you’re never too poor for music,” Cockman said.

Now, Cockman has 10 grandchildren, and they all share the same taste for music. The oldest grandchildren, Arwen and Lorien, now 12 and 14, are national yodeling champions. Called The Butterpats, the two have already released three albums.

Though The Butterpats could be at the concert, Cockman said they always have, at least, a small group ready to go. “We always have, at least, four, but it could probably be eight or nine,” Cockman said.

The Cockman Family has been performing in Fred’s summer concert series for 10 years, and Cockman said he’s never seen such a fascinating crowd.

“Even when we’re singing, if it starts raining, they’ll pop their umbrellas up and won’t move,” Cockman laughed. “It’s really different than any other place in the world we’ve ever sung.”

For more information on the series, contact Fred’s General Mercantile at (828)387-4838.

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