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Interview

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L. V. Bryant


Marli Meets Narvel "The Marvel

Concert At Colts
Left to right: Fan Club President, Roy Combs,
Vince Albers, Marli (that's me ya know), and Narvel.

On Thanksgiving day, Nov. 27, 1997, Narvel had a show at Colt's Bistro in Toledo, Ohio. Roy called me as soon as he knew about it and insisted I had to be there, knowing that I only lived about 80 miles away. Not only did I go, along with my friend, Vince, we spent three days there. It's three days I'll never forget as long as I live! During that time, I came to know and respect a wonderful, loving, and talented man, as well as create a bond of true and immediate friendship with Roy and his wife, Donna (whom I lovingly refer to as my "Evil Twin")

It's always a little unnerving when you're meeting folks for the first time. Even though Roy and I had communicated several times through e-mail and the phone, Donna and I had never communicated. That only took about one second to remedy. Roy saw Vince and I walking down the hall and all he knew of me was that I was a blonde. I was shocked when I heard a man in the distance say, "Marlene?". That's all it took, then Donna peeked her little dark head out of the door and told Roy, "You're a dead man!" Vince and I didn't have a clue what was going on, but Donna, shy gal that she is, spoke right up and told us that she had warned Roy that the gal he'd spent so much time talking to had best be fat and ugly! From that moment on, I knew I liked her! LOL

We spent the entire afternoon with them talking like we'd known each other for years, then came Narvel. He had to go to Colts to set up and practice with the band he'd be playing with that night, but wanted to come and meet Vince and I before he left. I was in awe that this man was going out of his way for me, let alone that I was actually meeting him at all, but he remedied that in no time. Narvel came in, wearing his 1957 Chevy sweatshirt, and was as humble and gracious as anyone you'd ever want to know. He put me immediately at ease, and a bond was formed. I not only had great respect for his talent and music, I genuinely liked him as a person.

Narvel 'Bub' Felts Jr.We made plans for all of us to meet and go out for Thanksgiving dinner before the show which we did when Narvel and Roy were done setting up at Colts. I sat next to Narvel and was enthralled by all the stories he told me of his life and career. (I won't go into all the details here, the main points can be seen on the Bio Page ) As we talked, Narvel told me that Roy had asked him to sing "This Time You Gave Me A Mountain" for me, but that he didn't think he would be able to do it. He said, "I haven't been able to sing that song since Bub died without breaking down." Bub is Narvel's son who was killed in a tragic car accident 2 years ago and Narvel had yet to resolve his grief at his loss. Knowing the situation ahead of time, I simply touched his arm and said, "Then don't...sing whatever makes you happy and I'll be happy, OK?" He smiled that smile of his that shines in his eyes and we went on to other subjects.

After dinner we returned to the hotel to prepare ourselves for the show. Roy and Donna were both concerned for Narvel and what kind of performance I'd see that night. They explained that Narvel had not been himself since Bub's passing and that he would do his performance as though he were merely going through the motions. Those who had never seen him perform before didn't notice, but the Combs have been very close to Narvel for several years and have traveled all over the world with him. They told me that there were times when he would stop a show to talk about Bub and break down in tears on stage, then try to compose himself to go on with his show. My heart ached for him. There's no greater loss than that of a child, no matter the age. He had also taken to wearing Bub's shirts while on stage, to keep Bub closer to him. Bub had been more than a son to Narvel, he was also his drummer and best friend. They shared a love of life and music which kept them permanently bonded. In the last two years Narvel's love of life had been almost diminished, but his love for music and his faith in God were what held him together.

A Happy Narvel On StageWhen the time came for us to depart, we all met in the Combs' room and I saw the look of astonishment in their eyes when Narvel walked in, wearing his own suit, with his own shirt, looking handsome and happy. We headed out to Colt's where we had a reserved table, front and center as I felt my energy rising in anticipation of what I knew would be a night to remember. Then the show began and I was transfixed to the man on stage as I witnessed what Roy and Donna both described over and over, in awe, as the best performance Narvel had done in years! He was smiling, a real smile, happy to be on the stage sharing his music with everyone.

Narvel Rockin' The HouseNone of us knew exactly how or why, but Narvel was having the time of his life. He rocked the house down with tunes such as "Rockin' Little Angel" and "Blue Suede Shoes", then would switch over to pour his heart into such ballads as "Somebody Hold Me (Until She Passes By)", "Reconsider Me", and some of his Rockabilly hits like, "Kiss-A-Me-Baby", "Darlin' Sue" and many more of his greatest hits. All I can say is when he was rockin', he was Really Rockin' and his ballads held such power that you felt every emotion the song was meant to portray. It was thrilling yet sad to hear folks in the audience asking, "Who is he and where has he been? He's Great! WoW! Why don't we hear him on the radio???"

Narvel Signs AutographsOn and on they danced, raved and applauded with vigor over each song. During the intermission, Narvel didn't rest. He went over to sign autographs as they lined up to meet him and get his CDs and tapes and join the Fan Club. It was heartwarming to watch him with his new found fans. Narvel loves meeting his fans and they love him as soon as they meet him. He is a man who's emotions show in his eyes and that sincerity speaks volumes.

The second set of the show began and Narvel once again, astounded his audience with his vivacious energy and emotions pouring through each note and word. Somehow, God had seen fit to allow Narvel's love of music prevail over his grief and it was as though he were performing FOR Bub instead of without him.

The Power Of NarvelThe show was over, NOT! Who in their right mind would let this man leave a stage and not beg for an encore! Of course, as any performer worth his salt, he loves that part, so back to the stage he went but instead of going to the mic, he went to the bass player to demonstrate a few chords. My heart sank down to my toes and I grabbed Vince's arm as I whispered, "Oh my God, no!" Vince had no idea what was wrong and I said, "He's going to sing it." "Sing what?" he asked, and I told him about the Marty Robbins' song, "This Time You Gave Me A Mountain". Narvel went to each musician showing them the chords for the song which they had not rehearsed for, then walked up to the mic and said, "This song is for Marlene," and before he could get a note out tears were starting to stream down my face. Never in my life did I think that anyone could put more power and raw emotion into that song than Marty Robbins had done, but I was mistaken. Narvel didn't just sing this song, he lived it, and those emotions were conveyed to every person there. He didn't break down once. He didn't have to! He had me doin' all the blubbering right in front of God and everyone! That was when I knew that Narvel not only liked me, he truly cared. It was the greatest gift he could have given me and I will cherish it as long as I live.

NOTE: Colt's Country Music Bistro - 5429 N. Summit - Toledo, Ohio Phone: 419-729-9236

Day 2 - The Interview




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