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L. V. Bryant

 

Article from fans, Faye Huffman and Doris DiLeo

From the moment he arrived to find a full parking lot at the Rebel Club on Saturday night, April 17th, and opened the front door to the sound of the juke box playing his music continuously before his opening show, during the break, and after his Owl Show, to the packed house with constant standing ovations and continuous shouted requests for personal favorites, the historical Rebel Club said “We love you, Narvel, welcome home” each and every way it knew how.

Born only a few miles away in nearby Keiser, Arkansas, Narvel performed Saturday night on the very same stage a 17-year old Narvel had stepped out of the cotton patch and onto in the fall of 1956. It had not been the first time he performed, but the very first time Narvel was actually paid for a
performance. According to Lucy Hill, gracious Rebel Club hostess and fan club member, he thinks he made “six or seven dollars” that night!

Backed by the Callenders, a family group, Narvel began his show with “I'm So Glad I'm Living In The USA,” while the crowd respectfully sat in a concert-like atmosphere and watched him perform. After that he slowed things down for an instantly crowded dance floor with “You Don't Know What It's Like.” Then the requests came pouring in, which Narvel honored, as his script “went out the window.” They included such all-time favorites as “Red Hair and Green Eyes,” which he co-wrote and is included on his new Rockabilly CD soon to be released by Goofen Records of Finland, “Loretta,” “Rockin’ Little Angel,” and “Pink and Black Days.” Both “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “Reconsider Me” were sang twice. “Funny How Time Slips Away” was done the second time for a lady who “really had to hear it again, bad!”

The Callenders had really done their homework, backing Narvel’s beautiful voice as the Shoobie Doo Wah's on “Lonely Teardrops.” They sounded just as good as the original Lea Jane Singers on “When Your Good Love Was Mine.” Narvel really had the crowd hopping and the dance floor shakin' with "Great Balls of Fire" and a Little Richard medley that Little Richard himself wouldn't have been able to sit still during if he had been there.

Narvel tugged at our heartstrings as he poured his heart into “Since I Don't Have You,” dedicated to the memory of his only son, Bub. He informed us that the song has now been released as a single from his “Ode To Bub” CD, and as of last month is in the national charts. Since Narvel first charted in 1959 with “3000 Miles,” he has now charted over a 40-year career span. Way to go, Narvel!

Childhood friends, Dewey Barnes and Bert McMinn, surprised Narvel by being in the audience Saturday night. Narvel took us down memory lane recalling his childhood, playing with Dewey and having BB gun fights, “which was a really stupid thing to do,” he added. He also recalled that his wife Loretta had come to the Rebel Club as a teenager, although he didn't meet her there, and that they would celebrate their 37th anniversary on April 30th.

Creating lifetime memories is one of the special things Narvel Felts is all about, as he acknowledged friends and fans on-stage, even orchestrating an impromptu singing of Happy Birthday to his friend Bert, and autographing T-shirts and CD’s until the last person had everything he wanted. “To know Narvel,” as he's so often said about Bub, “is also to love him.”

Thanks again Narvel for a magical night down memory lane, as you gave it “all you got” doing what you do best in, as you've said, “this crazy business that I love.”

By Faye Huffman and Doris DiLeo

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Narvel Felts - A Survivor
By Rube Yelvington of Music Ranch USA

In 1956, Narvel Felts was a gangly youth of 17 when he sang Blue Suede Shoes
in a high school talent contest near his Malvern, MO, cotton pickin' home,
and won. Through a fortuitous chain of events he was catapulted into his own
small-town radio program in Dexter, MO, joined the Jerry, Mercer Band that
played in packages with Roy Orbison and Eddie Bond and the Stompers, in 1956
replaced Mercer as band leader, had his first records released in June 1957,
and his first record on the charts, in 1959, "Three Thousand Miles," written
by Narvel with Leon Barnett and Jerry Tuttle. Narvel was just 20. It was a
meteoric rise.

Narvel traded gigs with Conway Twitty when he still was Harold Jenkins. He
recorded alongside Conway, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl
Perkins. He recorded in Nashville, Chicago, Memphis, Alabama and released
records with the Bear family in Germany. 15 years after his first hit, in the
70s, Narvel was on a streak racking up the hits in the 70s when he achieved,
in 1975, with "Reconsider Me," the No. 1 record on national charts. He hit
the charts with over 50 songs, seven top 10. But his best known recording
was "Drift Away," first charted in 1973. It helped keep him on the charts in
80s and 90s!

Throughout his career, Felts has run in a competitive pack. When he achieved
the record of the year in 1975, those right behind him, in order, were Cal
Smith, Don Williams, Crystal Gayle, Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker, Freddy
Fender, Conway Twitty, Mickey Gilley and T. G. Sheppard. That's tough
competition. As this decade closes, many of those competitors -- or friends
-- are gone. Retired. Dead. But Narvel still will be singing, May 9 this
year at the International Rock ‘N’ Roll festival at Hemsby, and on Friday,
May 21 at Music Ranch USA in West Point, KY. His soaring tenor has given him
recordings on the charts for five decades, the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s,
and 1990s. Now comes the millennium, the 2000s. Narvel, what's next?

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Narvel Rocks the Grove Opry!

If you were at the Grand Grove Opry on Saturday night, April 3rd, you would have rocked right along with Narvel and the audience. Narvel had a sore throat and was not feeling well, but it didn't keep him from hitting the high notes and putting on an outstanding performance. He had mixed up a drink of honey, lemon juice and water to soothe his throat and the audience was more than willing to wait several times during the show while he took a sip of it.

The program included Rockabilly songs "My Babe" and "Great Balls Of Fire", which got the audience tapping their feet and clapping hands. The theater-like atmosphere of the opryhouse came alive as Narvel entertained the audience with many of his Top hits: "Funny How Time Slips Away", "Drift Away", "Everlasting Love", "Somebody Hold Me (Until She Passes By)", and "Lonely Teardrops". Other hits that made the audience rock and sway in their seats were "Pink & Black Days", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Fraulein", "My Prayer", "Remember" and "Since I Don’t Have You".

At the end of "Lonely Teardrops", Bobby Poe, owner of the Grand Grove Opry came on stage and sang "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" with Narvel accompanying him on guitar. Then Bobby and Narvel sang a duet together that was a big hit with the crowd: "Be-Bop-A-Lula". Narvel followed with "I’m Heading Home" and ended the show with his 1975 Single of the Year, "Reconsider Me".

Although the audience gave him a standing ovation, Narvel didn't return for an encore. Instead, he graciously went out front to meet his many fans, sign autographs and have pictures taken. There was one gentleman there from Scotland, who had seen Narvel about 20 years ago when he performed in Scotland. We invited him to join some of the fan club members who were getting together for snacks afterwards with Narvel, but he had to decline. After about an hour the autograph line had thinned down to fan club members. The sore throat had taken its toll and I thought Narvel looked tired, so I suggested we let him
sign autographs for us after snacks. I think he was glad for the opportunity to wrap up his business at the Opry and sit down for a while. Fan Club members were from Kemp, TX; Oklahoma City, Muldrow, and Miami, OK; and Narvel’s long time friend, Huey P. Long from Kansas City, KS. After we ate, Narvel obligingly signed tee shirts and some old 45’s and LP’s for his fan club members.

Rodney Lay and the Wild West band provided backup for Narvel and were a big contribution to the evening of entertainment. The entire show was taped and was to be played the following week on KITO AM-FM radio from Vinita, Oklahoma.

Thanks Narvel, for being willing to share yourself and your love of music with
your fans! Even when you don’t feel good, you’re still “Narvel The Marvel.”
By: Essie Shell

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Narvel Felts and the Rimshots
Jacksonville Jamboree ’98 - Newark, England

My wife, Kathy and I were lucky enough to spend three days in Newark, staying in the same Hotel as Narvel Felts and attending the Jacksonville Jamboree where he was to perform. This Country/Rockabilly Festival was to be graced with good weather, very hot by day, but a bit chilly in the evening. Narvel was his usual hospitable self and spent plenty of time chatting to us over the weekend.

The Festival itself lasted for three days. Most people, however had come for the Saturday entertainment even though the other two days hosted some very strong performers including Dale Watson, George Hamilton V and Gail Davies. The highlight of Friday night for me was George Hamilton V who gave a very powerful performance of Country Rock. George was very competently backed by a band put together by the excellent drummer Cozy Dixon. I had never seen George before but he provided the audience with an hour of pure entertainment.

Also on Friday was Dale Watson a big name on the Country scene. His own Texan band backed him, but overall he was a bit disappointing to me. His voice could not be faulted but he was a bit lacking in movement and played several trucking songs, which I personally am not a lover of. The majority of the audience enjoyed the set, which was the main thing. The memory that will stick in most people’s mind that night will probably be the extreme cold temperature in the hall. The day had been so hot and everybody turned up in shirtsleeves or summer attire. The clear skies that night had caused temperatures to plummet and a strong breeze had got up. This added to the fact that the hall doors were wide open had people sitting there shivering. People had to return to their accommodation and bring back warm clothing and even blankets. Even
Narvel who had come to watch Dale Hawkins said he had never felt so cold at a show.

Saturday was another hot day and Kathy and I went to the site early to see The Rimshots who were on stage at 1.30pm. They had their usual big following that seem to track them everywhere. I suppose I can perhaps also be classed in this category. To me everything about The Rimshots is good, movement, dress, looks, energy and the thing that counts, sound. What is more they always enjoy what they do. It was the full 6-piece line up today, Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Double Bass, Drums, Steel Guitar and Fiddle. They opened up their set with Catting Around, Big River by Johnny Cash and Hobo Blues from their second LP. Those people that had turned up for this early afternoon gig were not disappointed. They were then treated to The Night Before, and the Webb Pierce song, Walk In The Dark. Hank Williams’ Ramblin’ Man and Tennessee Border followed. One of my Johnny Horton favourites was next, Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor. The pace was then slowed down for I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry. The Rimshots fan club was in
full voice by now as they sang along with every number. Rockin’ Chair, Oklahoma Hills. Where I Was Born, Shut Up And Drink Your Beer and Honky Tonk Blues took us up to the bands final scheduled number Whole Lotta Shakin’, for which they pulled out all the stops.

Of course the inevitable encore was called for and the old faithful One More Beer brought the proceedings to a close. The Rimshots now went off for a well earned rest and enjoy the sunshine before returning later in the evening to back Narvel. When Narvel appeared late in the evening the biggest attendance of the weekend was present and he received a rousing welcome from everybody as he took the stage. This legend of Rockabilly and Country music with that unique voice that sends chills down your spine was to render another top class performance. It took just thirty seconds of his first number Back In The UK to get the vast majority of his followers up and dancing in front of the stage. Narvel then thanked everybody for coming and slowed things down with Ain’t It Funny How Time Slips Away. Narvel always likes to dedicate a song to his son
“Bub” who was tragically killed over two years ago. The next number Danny Boy, Narvel explained, was the last number they had ever played together when they last toured the UK in 1989 and he wanted to do it tonight in Bub’s memory. I don’t think he could ever have done it better during his long career. It was time for the dancing to begin again as Heading Home had the feet stompin’ and Narvel covering every inch of the stage. All the energy used in that number called for the pace to be slowed down. My Prayer had people swaying in their seats and the positive audience reaction at the end brought about an encore. Next was one of Narvels early Rockabilly numbers My Babe followed by the song that had them all jumpin’ not so long ago at his appearance at the Tennessee Club, Great Balls of Fire. The Rimshots really showed their versatility with them all doing a solo spot. Narvel asked the audience to show their appreciation for the band at the end, and they did. A breather was needed after such an energetic number, so Narvel asked everybody to give a warm welcome to English Rose, the Norfolk based singer with a name to match her appearance and a voice just as sweet. The first song they sang together was Sad And Lonely with English Rose taking the first chorus and Narvel replying with the second. All credit must go to both performers, as unbeknown to the audience only a few minutes rehearsal had been possible for this tune earlier in the evening. It never showed as they both gave an impeccable rendition. When the applause died down Narvel asked English Rose to join him in one of his favourite old numbers Earth Angel. Again, English Rose’s silk like voice had the audience swaying in rhythm and similarly when Narvel took over. They then joined together to harmonise the chorus as one. It was a very fine performance by the young English singer. She must be the envy of many other talented singers to be able to say she had graced the stage with one of Rockabilly and Country’s legends. English Rose got a very warm response from the crowd as she left the stage.

At the end of Narvel’s next number When Your Good Love Was Mine, Narvel Inadvertently stood on his guitar lead and pulled it from his socket. This prevented him doing the finish to the number. Not to be deterred Narvel plugged it back in and did the ending again. Two more big hits, and crowd pleasers followed, Lonesome Teardrops and Reconsider Me. Time had gone so quickly and it was approaching Midnight. The Music Licence expired at that time and Narvel still had more numbers to do. The audience reaction persuaded the organisers to allow one more number. Narvel left it to his fans to choose the last song and the almost unanimous decision was Shake It Up. What a finale, the whole place was rockin’. With almost everybody on their feet, Narvel kept the music going for as long as he could. Unfortunately it had to end and Narvel could not have been more pleased with the ovation he got at the finish. The applause lasted several minutes.

After he came off stage he went out front and met his many fans, signed autographs and had photos taken. It was almost an hour later that the last person left. Narvel picked up his guitar and his famous suitcase and we headed for our cars. We were met on route by one of the organisers who said that a millionaire and his wife had invited us all back to their motor home for a champagne supper. It was an unbelievable home; it had to be seen to be believed. There were eight of us and we were all made very welcome. We sat and drank our champagne and chatted for about an hour with our hospitable hosts. All good things have to come to an end, however, so sometime after 2am we said thank you to our hosts and made our way back to the Hotel. Even after the late night, we all managed to make it down to breakfast in the morning and discuss the
previous night’s happenings. After breakfast we all packed our cases and met outside the Hotel to say our farewells. We all hoped it wouldn’t be to long before Narvel was back on these shores. At least we know that this legend with the golden voice will be back in May 1999 to appear at Hemsby, if not before.

Thanks Narvel for another memorable performance, keep on Shakin’ It Up.

Review by: Rod Pyke, Rockabilly Hall Of Fame

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Narvel Reviewed in the Gazette

KBOA Radio
Featuring Narvel in the Rockabilly days


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