The 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 links below to see
and hear the Levee Singers!!
THE LEVEE SINGERS' STORY...
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
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.
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
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!
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 18, 2015
Tuesday, Oct 27, 2015
Monday, Dec 7, 2015 A Christmas Tradition!! (moved from Dec 1)
price is $22 (Christmas Show is $25). 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.
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.
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 Grammy Awards!
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.
In 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).
to Susie Bernet for the Levee Singers pic)