The Light Crust Doughboys – Official Band of the Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce
photo credit: Tompkins Photography
We are proud to have the The Light Crust Doughboys as “The Official Band of The Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce!” We are so fortunate to have these Grammy-winning talents in our neighborhood. If you’ve ever seen the Doughboys perform, then you already know they always put forth an exciting and unforgettable show.
The Enduring Legend of The Light Crust Doughboys
The world’s longest continually performing and recording country band
by Terry Reid
This is a story about a band and its members that reads like a classic American novel, and contains all the poignant elements that demand the eventual telling of the tale in some epoch feature film.
It is a story of music and politics, perseverance and commitment, talent and luck. This is a Texas story that all Texans will be proud to tell from generation to generation. It is a story that everyone can personally relate to, and it has a series of happy endings despite the many challenges that all successful organizations encounter on their journey to the top.
In 1931, a man who would become a Texas music legend named Bob Wills brought a band called The Light Crust Doughboys to the Burrus Mill Flour Company. It was the beginning of the great American Jazz age, and the glorious time of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Gene Krupa. Bob Wills and his band, The Light Crust Doughboys, introduced the music genre of Texas Western Swing. Though the other great “big bands” disappeared along with the flour company, The Light Crust Doughboys are still performing, recording and “On The Air.”
The band initially performed live on the high tech phenomenon of that generation – the radio – and sang commercials for the Burrus Mill Flour Company. W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel ran the company and the flour company owned the band. Although he fired Wills a couple of years after the tremendous initial success of the band, The Light Crust Doughboys continued performing for huge audiences around the country for decades. Despite O’Daniel’s rise to political fame by becoming Governor and U.S. Senator from Texas, and the only politician who ever defeated Lyndon Johnson, O’Daniel believed he would best be remembered for starting The Light Crust Doughboys, one of the most popular bands in music history.
Some of the premier country and western musicians in the world have filled the ranks of the Doughboys, and hundreds of musicians claim to have played with the band when it came through their towns. Over the years, the band boasted its own touring buses and private planes. As with all stories in history, the sad times came with the passing of the once bright stars into their years of illness and ultimate deaths. But somehow, new members came along, and the band would reorganize itself into a cohesive crowd pleaser that just would not disappear. Each new generation of musicians had a cadre of even brighter stars to lead the upward way.
Enter music prodigy, Art Greenhaw, a Mesquite, Texas native who began his musical calling at age 3. A master of several instruments with a vocal range that is the envy of his peers, Greenhaw started working professionally with the band in 1983. By 1993, he had become the youngest official member and co-bandleader of The Light Crust Doughboys. Upon the death of the greatest four-string banjo player in history, Smokey Montgomery, Greenhaw became the bandleader. In 2003, he produced and won the Grammy Award for “Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album of the Year” for the album WE CALLED HIM MR. GOSPEL MUSIC: THE JAMES BLACKWOOD TRIBUTE ALBUM. This album featured The Light Crust Doughboys, the Jordanaires and Larry Ford.
Led by Grammy Award-Winning musician and producer Art Greenhaw on piano, bass, guitar and vocals, The Light Crust Doughboys in various combinations include such virtuoso instrumentalists and singers as Jim Baker (inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame in 2013) on violin, banjo and vocals; Randy Wills (5th generation descendant of Bob) on keyboards and bass; Marek Eneti on electric violin; and Dion Pride on guitar, vocals and keyboard. A Light Crust Doughboy brass and reed ensemble is even added for select events, concerts and balls. The Light Crust Doughboys have played prestigious festivals throughout the United States, have toured Austria, and make frequent television appearances. Current Light Crust Doughboys have over 150 years of combined experience playing in The Light Crust Doughboys band. The Light Crust Doughboys were named The State of Texas’ Official Music Ambassadors by the 74th Texas Legislature, are Texas Commission on the Arts’ official touring artists, and are inductees in the Texas Cowboy, Texas Western Swing, Rockabilly, Texas Music, and Cowtown Society of Western Music Halls of Fame. In every personal appearance by The Light Crust Doughboys, the band pays tribute to its legacy by honoring the musical contributions of Bob Wills, Milton Brown, and especially, Marvin “Smokey” Montgomery, a Light Crust Doughboy from 1935 until his passing in 2001.
In 2012, Dion Pride became the first African American “Doughboy.” Another first in a family heritage that produced the most famous African American country music pioneer, Dion’s father – Charley Pride. Greenhaw selected the young Pride for his extraordinary mastery of guitars, keyboards and vocals, and Pride’s electrifying stage presence. Dion immediately captivated the hearts of large crowds of Doughboy fans.
In 2013, classically trained violin virtuoso, Marek Eneti, surprised the world by joining The Light Crust Doughboys. His handsome Eastern European looks, and magnificent showmanship, included electric lighted violins and the ability to embrace Western Swing music with an immediate proficiency never seen in the annals of country music before this astonishing alliance!
What makes this a true American Dream story is that Greenhaw Records is a small independent label succeeding without the financial marketing power of the major labels from Nashville and Los Angeles and New York. Though the industry titans said it couldn’t be done, Greenhaw’s knack for collaboration and outside-the-box concepts have jettisoned The Light Crust Doughboys fame to new heights year after year.
Entire books have been written about The Light Crust Doughboys who appear on the Texas Commission on the Arts/Texas Touring Roster, and there are many exciting chapters yet to be told. If you would like to become a part of the history of Texas music, you are invited to book the band for a show at your school or special event in your town.
For information on booking The Light Crust Doughboys band, click here.
By Terry Reid, Founder Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce