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L. V. Bryant

Narvel, Donna, Vince and Marli
Vince (back), Donna Combs, Marli, and Narvel

The following day of the concert had each moment packed with events. I was exhausted after only having four hours of sleep in the past two days (which gave me a whole new perspective on the life of a performer) but my excitement kept me going. I wasn't about to miss out on one minute of our time with Narvel, Roy and Donna.

Vince and I had planned to return home that day, but since Narvel would be there until later in the afternoon, and the hotel wasn't gracious enough to allow him a few extra hours in his room, we decided to stay another day, at the prompting of Roy and Donna. We would all spend that morning and afternoon with Narvel then the four of us would have the rest of the day to spend time together.

Roy and Donna CombsWe all met for breakfast at 10:00 AM, knowing we had a lot of ground to cover before Narvel's departure later that afternoon. He had to catch a flight to be in Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Country Music hall Of Fame Awards. All they had told him was that it was a black tie affair and his presence was requested. I was to conduct an interview with Narvel for Eddie Bear's ETC Radio show and I was petrified about it. Narvel, bless his heart, did all he could to keep me at ease as we ate our breakfast and discussed how we would conduct the interview. Eddie had basically told me, "Get the ball rollin' and let him do the talkin'." That was the best advice he could have given me. I'm not much of a "stage ham" and although I was quite at ease talking with Narvel, doing so with a microphone put a whole new twist on things. Roy, being the devoted friend that he is, was all too eager to tease and heckle me, the stinker, but Narvel was too supportive to allow that to interfere.

Narvel's CaseOnce we were back at the hotel, we went to Narvel's room to help him inventory his sales of CDs and tapes (which he still does on a notepad with a pencil) and pack his "Willie Case" which he had used for 40 years to transport his wares. Roy has threatened many times to buy him a new suitcase, but Narvel retorts, "Don't waste your money. I won't use it. This bag has been all over the world with me." It has the duct tape and labels of all the countries it's traveled through to prove it, too. He said that case means as much to him as Willie's guitar does to ol' Willie. I have to agree with Narvel, it's a keeper.

We all gathered in my room to get on with our agenda. Vince had brought his laptop computer so we would be able to show Narvel his sites on the web, the one by Roy, and the Official site, here, (which Roy had so graciously decided I should maintain). Narvel has never used any form of communication more modern than a telephone so he'd never been exposed to a computer, let alone the net. Being a stickler for details, he didn't allow his enthusiasm to let him overlook even the most minute of details. Donna kept notes as Vince scrolled through the pages, explaining the concept, and Narvel read each word, making corrections that were necessary, yet elaborating how wonderful it was.

He had just recently been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame and Vince followed the link to show him the page done for him on the RHOF site. Donna, Roy and I were exchanging glances of trepidation, knowing that they had, at Narvel's wishes, dedicated the page to Bub. He read each word on the page and as he'd finish a section, he'd let Vince know it was time to scroll to the next section (he wouldn't even touch the PC). As Vince neared the picture of Bub, he tried to scroll past it, but Narvel wouldn't allow it. "Back up," he said, "I want to see Bub." Vince scrolled back and Narvel sat staring at Bub's picture, tears flowing silently down his face. "Bub always loved Rockabilly and now here he is, in the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame," he said quietly. "I'm so touched that they put him on there for me." We were all trying to hold our own as I grabbed some tissues for Narvel. He took a moment to compose himself then he was ready to continue his journey through the net while every so often mentioning his pride in Bub's appearance there.

Pleased with everything he'd seen, he was ready to begin our interview. Ha! I wasn't, but didn't have much choice. I was determined that this could help regain the recognition that Narvel so richly deserved. As Narvel and I sat at the small table and I thrashed through my notes, which in my haste had lost the most important ones, Vince prepared the tape recorder. Then it was on, and so were we. I've never been so tongue-tied in my life but Narvel took the helm and led me through. The poor man had to do his own opening, for cryin' out loud, but never faltered. I sat mesmerized, listening to the story of his life, which I had already come to know pretty well but like any great story, I was still captivated by it. Pro and gentleman that he is, Narvel even had the foresight to end the interview for me by thanking me for taking the time to be with him. Geesh! I felt like such a shmuck, but Narvel was great! How many folks can sit down and conduct their own interview?!

We all had a good laugh over that and all the other shenanigans that went on and Narvel commenced to autograph all the special pictures he had brought for me.

Narvel Autographs Pics 4 Me

Click on the pic icons to see the full size.

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With all the necessities completed, we had some time to take pictures of each other and before we knew it, the call came in that Narvel's ride to the airport had arrived. We all walked out with him to see him off and wish him well. I had to make him wait another moment so I could get a picture of "The Case" then he was on his way, waving as the car drove off and leaving me with memories I will always cherish.

Donna and Me

Donna may be the "evil twin" but I love her anyway! This one's for you, sis!

Update June 2009: Donna passed away June 18th, '09.
She will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her.

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