Jerry Isbell, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, has a diverse background in corporate, entrepreneurial and international sales, marketing, philanthropy and media ventures. In 2021, he co-authored the book "Explosion of Prosperity-A History of Broken Bow Lake, Beavers Bend State Park and Hochatown" with Oklahoma Hall of Fame member and famed author/attorney, Bob Burke.
Isbell began his career in media and marketing at KGOU Radio, KTVY Television and Remington Park Racetrack in Oklahoma City. Isbell also worked at a network affiliate in Minneapolis, MN. He has consulted internationally on sales, marketing and media projects.
Isbell was chosen as Oklahoma’s first field representative for Xerox Corporation's authorized agency program in the early 1990's. He later enjoyed success at Curtis 1000, an international print communications company, and was named “Great Plains Sales Representative of the Year” in 1994 and 1995.
In the late 1990's Isbell worked in management at Commercial Financial Services. He led a department of over 50 employees and was responsible for millions of dollars in monthly revenue. Isbell returned to Xerox in 1999 and won numerous Par Club awards while simultaneously completing the Xerox Management Program and earning certifications in Lean Six Sigma. He directed new business development territories that produced multi-million dollar annual sales in public, corporate and graphic arts sectors. He is a consultant for the Xerox Agent organization covering Oklahoma.
He has traveled the United States and Europe on projects involving marketing, sales, media, social media, including a project to begin an English speaking television channel in Paris, France.
Isbell founded BeaversBendVacations.com, a popular luxury resort in the mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. This creation was featured in the Sooner State’s centennial celebration book, Treasures of Oklahoma.
He is on the global board of directors of the Limbs for Life Foundation (limbsforlife.org) and has traveled internationally to promote their expansion and branding.
Isbell has been involved in American Kennel Club dog shows with his nationally ranked Brussels Griffon and boxers for many years. He resides in Norman, OK with his wife Sherri, a senior administrator at the University of Oklahoma. Sherri was named the International Publishing and Management Association’s National Contributor of the Year in 2013 and she has served as their President.
The Tulsa resident has toured with Corey Kent, The Swon Brothers, Lauren Alaina and others. He joined Luke Combs in 2021 and shared the journey that led him from Tishomingo, OK to sold-out arenas around the world.
The Early Days
“I came to music late compared to most. I started around 17 in my buddy’s garage band in Tishomingo. No idea what I was doing and musically very ignorant. I graduated high school and then went to junior college, studying commercial music and audio technology. Music theory, ear training and other music-related courses helped a lot. I worked pretty hard during that phase of my life, trying to make up for lost time. From there, moved to Tulsa and played in many different bands. Casinos, dance bands, weddings, churches, jazz gigs and local theatre. I also took private lessons on bass and piano. Piano helped immensely and I’d recommend it to everyone. I kept gigging and doing just about everything imaginable, saying yes and learning new skills and genres along the way. Larger artists continued to hire me over the years, and I eventually landed the gig I have now. I’m 35 and have been playing professionally for about 14 years.”
Courtesy: Mat Maxwell
Landing The Gig with Luke Combs-Life On The Road
“I didn’t have a history with Luke prior to about eight months ago. I met his bandleader about 14 years ago and was in his band then. He remembered me, believed in me, and recommended me. I went in, did my best, and the rest is history. Always do your best and leave a good impression on people. You never know when it’ll pay off. The travel is fun. New people, places, food, planes, buses, hotel rooms and Uber. Keeps you on your toes. I usually try to get some practicing in before the show and stretch. If I can, I’ll go for a run earlier in the day. We visited Fenway while in Boston and getting to do fun things like that is great while on tour. You don’t always get a chance to take in the cities, but it’s nice when you can.
Some days are busier than others. A lot of the time you don’t get a chance to fully enjoy where you are. The main reason you’re there is to work and that has to come first. It’s incredible. Absolutely incredible. The boss, band, and crew are all awesome and hilarious, so that makes touring really enjoyable. Super talented and professional folks bringing a great show. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s different than what a much younger me would’ve expected, but I’ve been doing it long enough that I knew some of the “ropes” of touring beforehand. It’s definitely a fun job, but a job nonetheless and it does take you away from home and family. Wouldn’t trade it for nothin’ but everything in life has trade-offs. I’m very, very thankful.”
Advice for Aspiring Musicians
“Contacts are essential. Strong ones. Ones where the person not only knows you but believes in you. It takes time and you don’t always make a lot of money. Especially in the beginning. Stay humble, be kind, show up on time, say yes, do what you say you’ll do, and always hit home runs (musically speaking). They’ll remember you. It’s typically a marathon, not a sprint, from what I’ve seen and personally experienced.”
Onstage Past and Present
“Early on in my career we were paid to quit playing because a high school reunion came in the bar and wanted to hear Bon Jovi all night. We were an original Americana band! Once…the drummer in our cover band fell asleep during a slow song. He had drank too much and leaned on his snare. People sometimes throw hats or their phones on stage at Luke’s shows. I’ll put the hat on and throw it back a few songs later. That’s fun. During the show I can’t do anything besides hand a phone back between songs.”
Maxwell says he spent a lot of time learning Combs’ setlist and much of his catalogue prior to joining the band.
Maxwell Loves Beavers Bend State Park/Broken Bow Lake
“Any musician that has done a fair bit of touring can tell you fun and interesting stories about places they’ve been. Some of those are more memorable than others, and Broken Bow is one of those for me. It’s obviously a place known for aestheticism, but the local artisans and overall art and music culture is part of what makes it so special. It was my dad’s favorite place on earth, and it definitely makes that same list for me.”
Maxwell’s rise to the top has catapulted him from playing shows in Broken Bow, OK to sold out concerts at Madison Square Garden with Luke Combs.
Mat Maxwell is another great Oklahoma musician we should treasure as he follows the beat of his dreams.
Tourists love being pampered and hiring a personal chef is one of the hottest trends in Beavers Bend. Chef Bailey McCullough, the right-hand man for Food Network Champion Chef Tabb Singleton, is a big hit in Broken Bow. He’ll titillate your tastebuds and teach you how to become a better cuisine expert.
Chef McCullough is a native of Southeastern Oklahoma and honed his skills at restaurants in New Orleans. He works with the legendary Tabb Singleton at Phatt Tabb’s BBQ in Idabel, OK and his cabin catering business is flourishing.
A scrumptious lobster tom yum course for my friends Scott and Kandyce Mitchell at Mountain Vista Cabin led Scott to text me, “He’s a genius!” Chef McCullough can create a plethora of menu items while staying at a luxury cabin in Broken Bow.
“The beautiful setting and Bailey’s artisan cuisine made the pics,” Kandyce said.
Chef McCullough enjoys engaging with tourists when cooking at cabins.
“I feel it’s one of the most important parts of the experience. The interaction, all the questions…it really makes a fun experience for the guest and me. I send guests a brief description of what I’ll be cooking and I love the shock and awe on their faces when it’s presented to them!”
Chefs McCullough and Singleton Featured on Trey’s Chow Down
Contact Chef Bailey McCullough at 337-244-1084 for a world-class meal in Beavers Bend.
Get the breakfast burrito at Pamela Kay’s when visiting Broken Bow Lake. Pam has a variety of great wraps, salads, sandwiches, homemade cookies and cinnamon rolls. It’s located on Highway 259 North across from the Stevens Gap Exit.
Beavers Bend Coffee
If you want a wonderful cup of Joe, cappuccino, americano, macchiato or frappes, Pamela Kay’s has wonderful food and coffee.
Pam has been a great friend and tremendous Beavers Bend entrepreneur for years. You can dine outside if the weather is nice. Grab it and go if you’re headed for a fishing trip or hiking the trails. If you’re new to the area, ask Pam for Broken Bow Lake tips. She’s an expert!
Thanks to Jessica Alkirwi, Kim Kennedy and the wonderful staff at Hochatime for the warm welcome. I’ve had a blast signing lots of books and talking to many tourists recently. It’s been a pleasure seeing scores of cabin owners and people like me that grew up near Broken Bow Lake.
My co-author, Bob Burke and I had a wonderful time writing the book. We take you on a journey that has a few laughs, great photography and in-depth analysis of the tourism boom.
“Explosion of Prosperity…” Displayed at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame
“Neat, very clean, hot tub was perfect…all appliances were in top shape, beds and mattresses were very comfortable. My friends said they want those for their homes now!”
“This was a great family getaway. It felt so good to unplug from the world and enjoy nature. The hiking was breathtaking and fishing was relaxing. We had some much needed quality family time.”
“We had a wonderful & safe vacation during the pandemic at the luxurious cabin. The cabin has a lot of privacy, but civilization isn’t too far – so you get the best of both worlds. Jerry & Sherri’s recommendations were great and their hospitality is admirable. Can’t wait to visit again.”
“This is a great cabin and a superb location on a hill with beautiful views. The decks are massive. The area outside is just the best – very secluded and perfect. Beds are all huge. Everything you could want in a weekend rural getaway in the wilderness. Definitely go hiking up the road at Beavers Bend State Park. Highly recommend.”
Congratulations to Skip & Shel Copeland at Rolling Fork Takery. They’ve won several national awards through the years and recently added another to the list. The best sandwich in Oklahoma according to Yelp! Visit them on Memorial Weekend in Broken Bow.
Take our video tour and see the 50-mile views. Mountain Vista Cabin is just a short jaunt to Broken Bow Lake and Beavers Bend State Park.
I’ve been away from the blog for a while writing the upcoming Beavers Bend book with Oklahoma Hall of Fame member, Bob Burke. It’s scheduled to be released in 2021 and will highlight the history and recent tourism boom in our area.
2020 has been a weird year to say the least. It’s been the busiest in history at Mountain Vista. We’ve had hundreds on the waiting list during the summer and holidays.
Beavers Bend has many visitors discovering it for the first time. Broken Bow’s popularity is at an all-time high. Make sure to reserve your 2021 dates soon.
Thanks to News9 for making the trip to Beavers Bend!
Are you searching for a Beavers Bend cabin opening? Good luck, we’re packed!
A quick search of about 3,000 cabins near Broken Bow Lake indicates that nothing is available for quite some time. Many parts of Oklahoma are experiencing the economic distress of Covid-19. We’re enjoying a banner-year in Beavers Bend.
We have no availability at Mountain Vista Cabin until August 16th. Only three weekends are open until October. Fall foliage season is quickly approaching and we have massive crowds in Beavers Bend State Park during October and November.
Mountain Vista cabin in Broken Bow, OK is minutes from Beavers Bend State Park and Broken Bow Lake. It’s not simply a rental cabin, it’s our vacation home. In addition to stunning 50-mile views, Mountain Vista has three-king bedrooms and boasts acres of seclusion.
Firewood and s’mores kits are always complimentary at Mountain Vista. We have a fully-equipped kitchen with everything you’ll need to make a fantastic meal.
Beavers Bend Food Network Champion Chef Tabb Singleton Update 7-3-20:
Chef Tabb Singleton returned to New Orleans for a few years, but is back in McCurtain County. His new concept is Phat Tabb’s BBQ in Idabel.
Idabel is a convenient pit stop for DFW visitors traveling to and from Beavers Bend State Park. Enjoy world-class BBQ on your next trip to Beavers Bend!
The Moon Tower Bar and Grill, led by executive Chef Tabb Singleton, has opened to rave reviews near Beavers Bend State Park and Broken Bow Lake.
Singleton, a native of Southeastern Oklahoma and former executive chef in New Orleans, won the Food Network’s “Chopped” in 2012 and was also crowned champion of “Deep Fried Masters.”
The fame of winning these nationally televised shows skyrocketed his career.
“The process of getting on “Chopped” took about four-months. They (Food Network) had recruiters in the area checking restaurants out…a group came in to eat and I was running the restaurant for Emeril Lagasse, (world famous chef)) that night. They were sitting close to the kitchen. I had to tear into one of the line cooks verbally because he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing, and they got a kick out of it,” Singleton said.
It had been Tabb’s long-time goal to appear on the Food Network. His dream would soon become a reality. Everything was about to change. That line cook’s blunder became a metamorphosis leading to millions realizing Tabb’s tremendous talent in the kitchen.
Chef Tabb Singleton was now a rock-star…the rest is history.
Suddenly, a guy from the tiny town of Idabel, OK was a celebrity and shooting a TV show in New York City. Everywhere he went, he was recognized.
Tabb says the fame of winning both shows led to a hectic life. It catapulted him into the limelight throughout the Crescent City and United States.
“We had a lot of people coming in to take a picture with me at the restaurant in New Orleans. I did a lot of autographs. When you win a national television show, you have everybody coming out of the woodwork,” he said.
I toured Tabb’s beautiful new restaurant recently before his lunch-hour rush. The Moon Tower Bar and Grill has been open for a few months and it’s the talk of the town among locals and tourists. Tabb has dreams of opening restaurants in larger markets, but wants to keep a firm hold on the culinary scene near Broken Bow Lake.
“I love this area, it’s my home…this is the first place I want to get something started,”
Tabb’s tremendous success and fame in New Orleans made it difficult to leave, but he felt it was time to venture off and open his own restaurant. The lure of returning home to the lush forests of McCurtain County became a powerful force. A force he couldn’t resist.
He couldn’t turn down the opportunity to be the biggest fish in a huge tourist pond. Tabb now caters to two-million people visiting luxury cabins in Beavers Bend State Park annually. He’s the biggest game in a town that hosts millions of visitors every year. No one in the area can legitimately say they’re able to compete with him, or compare resumes. He’s the king.
The Moon Tower Bar and Grill features indoor and outdoor dining and has a beautiful amphitheater for live music.
Singleton calls his menu “an open floor plan” and it’s constantly changing. “We do old classics and new stuff.” He was trained under famous chefs in the Bayou and boasted…”I throw in some Cajun!”
Fresh seafood is delivered several times weekly from his gulf coast connections and Chef Tabb is proud of the new flavors he’s creating in Beavers Bend. It ranges from upscale bar food to gourmet delicacies. The Ouachita Mountain region now features world-class dining.
Singleton attributes his success as a chef to “trial and error and the school of hard knocks.”
Here’s his advice for us that enjoy tinkering on the grill and smoker…
“I push people to experiment more than anything. If there’s a rub you see, try it. If you don’t think you have enough salt, add more salt. Don’t be afraid to experiment.”
Chef Tabb Singleton’s latest venture has been a huge hit with our guests at Mountain Vista Cabin. The Moon Tower Bar & Grill should be your first stop for cuisine when visiting Beavers Bend State Park. It’s located off Highway 259N, a couple of miles north of the Steven’s Gap Exit.
There’s no doubt Chef Tabb Singleton will reign as king for many years around Broken Bow Lake. Welcome home Chef!