Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Daily Dose #5 (06/02/11)

THE SKANEATELES LEGACY

I'm getting ready to pack the gear up in the car and head out to a rehearsal.

But this isn't your run of the mill rehearsal. It's with the Dean Brothers, my very early childhood heroes.

I grew up in a very small town called Skaneateles, NY. Skaneateles has a little village, but its surrounded by farmland. Its a place of real beauty, located on the northern tip of the prettiest (and one of the cleanest in the world) Finger Lakes of Central New York State.

On the east side of the lake, within the village limits, is a little street that led down from Route 41 to the lake called Gayle Road. That was my world for the first 16 years of my life and when you're a kid, your tiny world seemed a lot larger.

There was a lot of music coming out of the garages at the top of Gayle Road in 1965. The Dean Brothers family home was just a couple of houses south of the corner. Holly Gregg lived at the top of the next fire lane just south of Gayle Road, and Joe Whiting's family lived on that lane.

I used to play flashlight tag with my brother and sister on hot summer nights, and you could hear the music wafting down the street. I used to sneak up the road and across the street, where the Deans always seemed to hold a Friday night garage concert. There were always pretty girls in mini skirts in the driveway, and beer hidden in the bushes.
I was just a tiny party crasher, but I was a cute little kid. That was always good for a loving fondle and a can of beer, even at the age of five. Talk about being a "Mannish Boy".

The picture above is a pretty good representation of rock and roll incubation, Skaneateles style. That's Joe Whiting on vocals, with Tom Dean, Bob "Berto" Dean on bass, and John Dean on drums ("The Ridgewoods"). Check out the matching blazers and the state of the art PA system!

The all played together in each other's bands, be it The Gay Blades, The Ridgewoods, Gallery, Free Will, or Brandywine; but by 1969 or so the dust had cleared, and there were two identifiable entities. Whatever they were named, The Dean Brothers became The Dean Brothers, and Joe Whiting and Mark Doyle became Jukin' Bone. This was Skaneateles's version of a Beatles/ Stones rivalry, with all the trimmings. The Deans were sweet: They wanted to hold your hand. Jukin Bone was dangerous: They sang dirty, innuendo laced bluesy Rock and Roll: They wanted to fuck your big sister into next week.


So Skaneateles was like a farm town version of Swingin' London between 1965-1975, and I grew up in the middle of it all. They were all major rock stars to me, and I wanted to be just like them.

I was more of a Dean fan for most of that time, that is until I hit puberty. Then I switched camps, because Doyle and Whiting spoke to my raging teen aged hormonal condition. What a little turncoat quisling I was!.

As their respective careers developed, we all tracked their successes. Jukin' Bone was the first to break, signing a real record deal with RCA.


The Deans broke through the local radio airplay ceiling with a jaunty little, independently produced tune called "Sell My Misery"... You couldn't listen to WOLF or walk by a jukebox without out hearing this tune, and it was my first awareness of a Do-It-Yourself success in the music business.

My career path was set by these gentlemen. I may have forged my own way down it, but it started back in the mid-sixties when all of these guys, totally unbeknownst, kicked my little ass down that path by their shining example alone at the onset

So to be invited to share a stage with the Deans is a very special treat for me... I'm a kid in a candy store, still playing flashlight tag, and still a 7 year old kid batting my eyelashes trying to cadge beers and look up mini-skirts (Although in middle age, I'm much better at hiding that agenda)

I am part of the CNY legacy, but only because I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time for it to touch me in a fundamental way.

More specifically, I am a continuation of the Skaneateles Legacy, and I walk freely down the trails that all these men blazed...and try to clear a little more brush on the way for those that choose to follow behind me.

I'm not worrying too much about rehearsal... I know all the music by heart.

8 comments:

Jack said...

Great read George.

Greeneyezz said...

Ditto what Mr. Boccino said.

Anonymous said...

Bob Dean was at a party I was at last Saturday and his pretty daughter sang pretty songs and he chimed in with voice and guitar, and then there was Pete Heitzman adding his fine chops. Home-made music of the finest order keeps on ticking....

Anonymous said...

Great story. Well written for all of us who didn't grow up in Skanny Land.

Suzy B said...

Loved it! Thanks for the story and the pictures. Dean Brothers were my favorite.

fasion diva said...

George, who is in the last group photo. I recognize Joe Whiting, Berto and John kneeling and left to right standing I'm not sure is that Charlie the trumpet player?
Than Holly, you, Scarlatta, Peter Dean and is that Tom Tuna, standing next to Peter?

plunk88 said...

The gentleman on the right, back row, is Ron Wray, Mr. Syracuse Music. He's the guy who created all the Syracuse Music Anthology Records. Ron's real name is Ron Gersbacher and he is now the President of the Syracuse Chiefs.

Love me some Ron Wray!!!

Anonymous said...

You neglected to mention Bill Irvin in the photo with Joe and Mark. He too played with them and several other well-known bands in the CNY area.
Georgie, can you spell Rollo?