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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch
  • If Walls Could Talk

  • To the town of Sleepy Eye, these words just roll off our tongue….but how did Sandra Lee and the Velvets start off? And where have they been all these years?
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  • To the town of Sleepy Eye, these words just roll off our tongue….but how did Sandra Lee and the Velvets start off? And where have they been all these years?
     
    Red and Sandy Zarn of Sleepy Eye started playing music in the mid to late 1960s. The first band they played with was known as The Fugatives. Next, the couple lent their vocal and instrumental talents to the band known as, The Country Gentlemen starring Sandy Lee; they playing together until 1971.
     
    Since July of 1972, the band – Sandra Lee and the Velvets have seen the couple, Sandra and Red, along with other group members which include Howie, Duane, Art and Charlie Mock, Mike Totman, Ted Halter and Arnie Marshall. The band has played for all sorts of local and area events which include weddings, anniversaries, proms, benefits, company parties, and 12 consecutive Miss Sleepy Eye Pageant dances.
     
    Sandra Lee and the Velvets have played a variety of music including authentic old thyme, country-rock and 50s type music. They had a huge following of devoted fans who danced and partied the night away wherever Red, Sandy and the rest of the band performed.
     
    The last official show that Sandra Lee and the Velvets played together was on Dec. 31, 1983.
     
    Despite being at the height of popularity, jobs and babies came along. The band was playing an average of eight nights a month while only taking off about two weeks in the summertime and about one weekend off everyone six weeks. A “gig” is not simply showing up and playing music. The band would have to pack up their equipment for the show, set-up and sound check before each show, and they would have to take down after each show. They would also have to perform as well! Doing each show meant many nights coming home well past midnight. Full-time jobs, babies and the show made everyone extremely exhausted. Years of performing simply took its toll. But in time it would pay off.
     
    Recognized for their contribution to music, Sandra Lee and the Velvets were inducted into the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame on Feb. 24, 2012, at the Kato Ballroom in Mankato. The Mid-America Music Hall of Fame Museum in Albert Lea contains a display of some of their artifacts, albums and photos from the band. Recently, our local Sleepy Eye Area Historical Society was given a huge display of Sandra Lee and the Velvets memorabilia, along with their samples of music to listen to as guests tour the Depot Museum.
     
    Since the induction, Sandra Lee and the Velvets have played a few shows, including their reunion show which was held out at the Eagles Club Orchid Inn back in April, 2012. The dance floor was packed that night as the band’s devoted fans once again danced and partied the night away.
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    Hoping for another successful night and to help a great cause, Sandra Lee and the Velvets will be bringing down the house at the Eagles Club Orchid Inn at the end of this month.

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