Small Audience - Great Voice

by: Adriaan Sturm

In spite of good promotion, including interviews on local country radio, only about one hundred people found their way into the Music Ranch USA at West Point, Kentucky on Friday night May 21, 1999, to see a performance by Narvel Felts, a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the recent recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Nashville.

Upon strapping on his guitar he immediately tore into Del Shannon's "Runaway," a song fitting his powerful, high-pitched voice like a glove. Several of his hits followed, including "One Run For The Roses,""Fraulein,""When Your Good Love Was Mine,""Somebody Hold Me" and "Drift Away," the country chart topper which opened the doors to country stardom in 1973. "Pink And Black Days," Narvel's tribute to the fifties, was the first of several songs connecting back to his rockabilly roots. It was a nostalgic trip, highlighted by a wild version of "Great Balls of Fire," in which Narvel showed his guitar skills with a series of blistering rockabilly licks. When he ended one song laying on his back kicking his boots in the air he nearly brought the house down.

The most touching moment in the show came when he sang "I Miss You Even Now," a song he wrote and recorded after his son Bub, who played drums in his band, was killed in a car wreck in 1997. Prior to closing the show with "Reconsider Me," the #1 song of 1975, his falsetto voice effortlessly drifted from low to high and back in "Funny How Time Slips Away," his 1991 chart entry "I'm Just That Kind Of Fool" and "Lonely Teardrops." The latter is a song originally recorded by the great Jackie Wilson for which he receives requests no matter where he plays. Although his voice was almost gone due to a bad cold, he returned for an encore with one verse and the chorus of "You Gave Me A Mountain," dazzling the audience one more time with his amazing vocals.

After the show he stayed around for autographs, promising he would be the last one to leave and proving it by giving his undivided attention to each and every fan, from the gray-haired grandmother who wanted a picture with him to the Fifties fan with an interest in his rockabilly days. It was a fitting end to a show by one of country music's outstanding vocalists. Narvel Felts, now at age 60, can still out-sing and out-perform any act in country music. Don't take my word for it; go hear for yourself next time Narvel Felts shows up in town.