|Levee Singers at Catholic Foundation Dinner 1-18-13 honoring Bob Baillargeon
Levee Singers at Catholic Foundation Dinner 1-18-13 honoring Bob Baillargeon
|Ed Bernet Ralph Sanford Ralph Lindsey Dick Bernet
Ed Bernet Ralph Sanford Ralph Lindsey Dick Bernet
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)
The Levee Singers began 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
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
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 and Ed 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, Jun 18, 2013
Aug 27, 2013
Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013
Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 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 for the first 2 pics below and to Jim Chandler for the others!)
Ralph Sanford Ed Bernet
Ralph Lindsey Dick Bernet
Ed Bernet Ralph Sanford
Ralph Lindsey Dick Bernet