2011 MARKED OUR
Levee Singers started in 1961...2011 marked our 50th Anniversary! In early April, we completed our tremendously
successful, 9 night "Sold-Out-Every-Night" Celebration
Concert Series...with Dallas' best known radio and media personality, Ron Chapman, hosting and MC'ing. Thanks to lots of rehearsal time, our public shows at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre
in Dallas...and a great number of private dates...2009 through the present time marks our busiest and best times
in over 20 years!
Click on the following link to see us in action...and make reservations to come see us at the Pocket...SOON!
(Scroll down for info)
2013, we had the honor of appearing on Suzie Humphreys' morning TV show. Below are links to the two songs we played
on that program...
THE LEVEE SINGERS' STORY...
The Levee Singers began, in March, 1961, as the "Levee Banjo
Band"...the weeknight entertainment at the Levee. The name was changed to the Levee Singers when the group began appearing
on national TV shows and across the country at conventions and concerts and in Las Vegas and Reno.
The group quickly became one
of Dallas' best-known and most in-demand entertainment groups in the early 1960's. They might start a night at the Levee,
play the first set and, at the break, pile into Ed Bernet's car, drive 10 minutes to downtown Dallas, run into a hotel showroom,
do a 20 minute show for a convention, run back out to the Levee and resume the night...their place having been taken for an
hour by a sub band, usually led by Sam Gafford.
David Sontag, an entertainment manager from LA, saw them in action
one night and signed the group as manager. He was responsible for bringing in a friend of his who was a successful, well-known Broadway
music writer/arranger and vocal coach, Colin Romoff, to help the group get ready, with some new songs and arrangements, for
a shot at "the big time". Through Dave's (and Colin's) efforts, and after a lot of rehearsing, the group appeared
on four top network TV shows of the day: Danny Kaye, Hollywood Palace, Jimmy Dean and Hootenanny. They also were booked at
the Mapes Hotel in Reno and at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas with Joey Bishop. They did several concerts with Henry Mancini
and a great number of convention and corporate shows. They kept up their nightly shows at the Levee, except when they were
out of town.
The group always felt they might have become even more successful...with the start they had and the "inside"
relationship their manager had with many people in the entertainment world. But they decided they didn't want to gamble what
they had going at the Levee and with the recording studio business Ed had begun. The idea of being "on the road"
didn't seem like the best option at the time, in view of business and family responsibilites.
After about eight years, Ronnie
Dawson left the group to go on his own, specializing in the "rock-a-billy" genre, becoming one the world's best-known
artists in that field. His place was taken by Ralph Sanford, who had been the groups' first sub since the earliest days. He
started as a 13-year old at the Big D Jamboree and later played with the Lightcrust Dougboys. At the same time, he began working
at the Levee as "first sub". He also joined a very successful, similar group of musicians/singers, Freddie Powers'
Powerhouse Four, in Arlington, TX. When Ronnie left, Ralph was able to move in and take up the slack quickly...and has been
one of the Levee Singers' lead singers since that time.
Smokey Montgomery left the group to devote all his time to
the Lightcrust Doughboys and several other groups he had in 1990. Several men, among them Brent Van Sickle, Mike O'Daniel
and Bill Hudson were with the group for awhile. Ed's brother, Dick, ultimately became the regular fourth member of the band,
playing plectrum banjo and keyboards, until his retirement in May, 2014...at which time his place was taken by long-time friend
of the band and one of Dallas' best-known entertainers, Dave Tanner.
Bob Christopher retired
from music for awhile in the late 1960's and was replaced by Grady Owen. When Grady moved from Dallas, Bob came back and was
the group's bass player/singer/arranger until August of 2005. At that time, Ralph Lindsey joined the group as the bass player
and third lead singer. The two Ralphs, Ed...and now Dave Tanner...share
the lead singing chores.
The Levee Singers have been active through all the years since
the beginning, playing company and corporate events, business meetings, society parties and other special events of all kinds.
Since the Levee closed at the end of the 60's, public club/restaurant performances have been rare. At one point, during the
early 90's, they were asked to work regularly at a new club, named after and made to look like the original Levee, adjacent
to the Ponchartrain Restaurant on Preston Road. That lasted only a short while. They worked for awhile at a restaurant on
McKinney Avenue in Dallas. Neither of those efforts seemed to be able to recreate the essence of the original Levee. It was
so unique in time and was a combination of many different ingredients that can't...like so many things in life...be exactly
duplicated or recaptured.
THE POCKET SANDWICH THEATRE...
During the past 10-11 years, however, in addition to its'
many private functions, the group has been appearing often at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, a small venue just down the
street, on Mockingbird Lane, from where the Levee used to be. The atmosphere and feel of the room is so similar to the Levee,
it's almost unbelievable. If the "feel" of the Levee could ever be duplicated...this is it!
Due to a great demand for tickets...a
happy situation for the LS...most of our shows at the Pocket have sold out well in advance. Hope you'll call early and try
to come on the next available date! If the date is sold out, PLEASE call and ask them to put you on the "waiting
list" and notify you if there are last-minute cancellations!
Our 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert
Series, on 9 nights in early April, 2011, was a COMPLETE sellout every night! We were so excited
to have NAB Hall of Fame member and good friend, Ron Chapman, with us as host and MC and to see so many friends we'd
not seen in a long time. Thanks to ALL who were there...and, if you didn't make it then...please come see us on
one of the nights below! If you DID see us then, bet you'll want to come back...and bring friends!!!
Tuesday, Aug 26,
Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014
Tuesday, Dec 9, 2014 A Christmas Tradition!!
Ticket price is $22. The theater is located just east of Central Expressway, 5400 East
Mockingbird Lane in Dallas, in the shopping center across the street from the Dart Station. The theater opens at 6:15PM,
our show is from 7:30-9:30PM, including a 15 minute break, dinner is available. Call 214-821-1860 for reservations.
Having seen a good demand for
the CD's they've made from the 5 LP's they recorded in the 60's, and having had many requests for a current recording, the
group made its' first new recording in many years in 2005. It's called "Finally, a New CD"...and was chosen to be
a contender in two categories for the prestigious Grammy Award.
A second, new CD was released...called, appropriately, "The
NEXT One". It was recorded in July, 2006, and is a collection of more of the group's most requested songs. The
group was proud that the CD itself and FOUR of the songs on it were chosen to be contenders in the early running for the 2007
The third of their recent CD's is also available! "The BEST Thing" is another
group of the most popular songs they do in their live shows. It was recorded in Dec 2009, released in Jan 2010.
May, 2010, our friend, Herbert Hunt, asked if we would agree to record our "America Medley" and Lee Greenwood's
"God Bless the USA"...so that he could send the resulting CD to about 1000 "of his closest friends" ...along
with the suggestion that they listen closely to the lyrics of these familiar, patriotic songs and be encouraged to support...with
their time, their money, their talents and their prayers...those candidates running for government office all over the US
who are committed to our traditional American values. We happily accepted his proposal, recorded the songs at Phil York's
Irving, TX, studio, added strings, horns and percussion arranged and conducted by our friend, Steve Bayless.
We're quite proud of the resulting CD, called simply..."America!!".
For info on the above CD's...and for info on the group's earlier CD's made from LP's recorded
in the 1960's, a CD made from the 2 LP's the Levee Dixieland Seven made during the 60's and a CD, "Zip'a de do dah",
made by the Levee Four at the Houston Levee during the mid-60's...click on "Levee CD's" (above left).
(Thanks to Susie Bernet and Jim Chandler for most of the Levee Singers pics!)