Crooner plans 300th show Monday at Port Angeles eatery
By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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Charlie Ferris, car salesman-turned-crooner, will do his 300th show there Monday night.
He'll take the microphone at 6 p.m. and stay until 8 p.m., and there's no cover charge at The Bushwhacker, 1527 E. First St.
Ferris, 65, does Sinatra, Tony Bennett, the Beatles, the Turtles, Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly and Michael Buble — he can go on and on.
He's been singing since he was a Maine boy of 16 in a band called the Boondockers. He got away from music, though, for some 40 years in the automobile business.
Then Ferris, who sold cars most recently at Gray Motors Inc. in Port Angeles, retired five years ago this month — and got to work.
He converted himself into a one-man show, “like a human jukebox,” said friend and fan Bruce Johnson.
“He goes through the decades . . . I love hearing him do the songs my parents introduced me to,” as well as music from when Johnson was a teenager in the 1960s.
“I love Charlie. He puts a lot of heart and soul into his shows. He wants to make sure everyone has a good time,” added Kelly Johnson, Bruce's wife.
“He's like a Vegas show, except he's a small-town guy,” added Amanda Bennett, a Bushwhacker waitress who's watched Ferris work the crowd many a time.
Ferris' 299 shows so far have been at festivals, fairs, casinos, community centers and clubs across and beyond the North Olympic Peninsula.
He said he'll offer his favorites Monday night: “Mack the Knife,” “Nights in White Satin,” “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Smoke Gets in your Eyes.”
That's a mere snippet of the 240 songs — more than 12 hours of material — he has in his repertoire.
“People often ask me how I remember all the words and melodies,” to which Ferris answers: Practice, practice . . . repetition, repetition.
“I am a perfectionist at heart and spend many hours in my home studio rehearsing,” he added.
“The best compliment I am ever paid is when I am accused of lip-syncing.”
The leaders of Ferris' fan base call themselves Charlie's Angels — no relation to the 1970s television series — and they know how to enjoy themselves.
“He has men groupies and us,” quipped Angel Liz Toth of Port Angeles.
“He puts fresh life in people,” said the 82-year-old, adding that she finds Ferris' song list dazzling.
“That man,” Toth declared, “is an encyclopedia.”
Scroll through the dozens of numbers listed on www.CharlieFerris.com, and you'll see that he makes it almost all the way through the alphabet.
One can listen to him sing “A Girl Like You,” “A White Sport Coat” and “Act Naturally,” on down to “Unchained Melody,” “Yesterday,” “You Got It,” “You'll Never Walk Alone” and “You Make Me Feel So Young.”
In concert, “New York, New York” is bound to come up, too, and when it does, Toth said, Charlie's Angels line up and kick, Rockette-style.
“We love him to pieces,” Toth added.
Yet Monday night's performance will not be a one-man show like the rest.
Ferris will bring in a guest artist.
Grandson to debut
Phoenix Price, Ferris' 4-year-old grandson, is slated to sing “Blueberry Hill,” the song Fats Domino made famous 57 years ago.
“He and I will be rehearsing over the weekend for his debut,” Ferris said.
“I just hope he doesn't lock up when he sees folks in audience. He's a little ham, though, and should be fine.”
Last week, Ferris drove to Neah Bay to firm up a couple of gigs: a luncheon show at the Makah Senior Center, 341 Bayview Ave., from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Then, he'll sing hits from the 1950s and '60s at a sock hop Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Makah Community Hall at the end of Bayview Avenue. Admission is free to both.
Ferris rehearses in his studio — and, of course, in the car. On the way to Neah Bay, he hooked his iPod up to the car stereo and practiced for hours.
Ferris said he charges between $100 and $300 for a night's entertainment, depending on the type of event. When he goes to Palm Springs, Calif., for much of the winter, his rate stays up around $300.
On the North Olympic Peninsula, “I am very easy to work with,” he added. “I would honestly rather have the gig than the money.”
As of this past week, Ferris had 15 engagements booked, including Monday's 300th show and an Oct. 5 gig at Wine on the Waterfront, the all-ages venue in The Landing mall at 115 E. Railroad Ave.
The best reward of all, Ferris added, is unrelated to his fee.
“The smiles on people's faces,” he said, “energize me.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: September 21. 2013 5:34PM