Monday, March 26, 2012


Little did we know but a relatively unknown band from Skaneateles, NY formed  and who's members would go on to influence our Central New York music scene for the next 40+ years formed in 1962. The band "The Ridgewoods" formed in the summer of 62 during a time when American teens were still listening to the Beach Boys and the British Invasion was about to change our music forever. It's original members included Bob Dean (bass), John Dean (drums), Tom Dean ( guitar) and Terry Horricks (lead guitar).The band remained the same until the summer of 1963 when Joe Whiting (saxophone, vocals) became its fifth member. Yes, its the same Joe Whiting who still thrills crowds to this day and is a member of the SAMMY's Hall of Fame.

 Terry Horricks departed in the spring of 1964, he was replaced by guitarist Limey Wickwire. April 1, 1964 the Ridgewood made their first public debut for a $25 fee. The Ridgewoods played and sang the poplar music of the day specializing in The Beatles, Animals, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys along with a few original songs.

In the fall of 1964 Wickwire left and replaced  by lead guitarist Craig Bennett. A year later mainstay Bob Dean departed for school and Barry Maturevitz joined on bass. When Bennett departed John Dean made the transition from drummer to lead guitar and Al Klimak replace John Dean on drums.

During this period the Ridgewoods ventured into Syracuse's Riposo Studio and recorded their first two songs- "You're For Me " & "It's Only Life". I remember seeing them at the P.L.A.V. on West Genesee Street in Syracuse followed by the band  visiting the WOLF Radio studio. They sang a  Coke-A-Cola radio jungle for WOLF's nighttime deejay Jim Sims. It went like like.. "Things go better with Coke and Jim Sims, things go better with Coke, Hi we're the Ridgewoods and your listening to Jim Sims swinging show". We aired the jungle nightly though the remainder of 1966. This was my first introduction to the band.

In September 1966, Tom Dean left and Holly Gregg (later to be longtime Dean Brother band member) was added. Holly was with the band just four month as the Ridgewoods played their last gig on December 27, 1966

When the Ridgewoods ended in December 1966, this was the point where there was a split that formed two very special bands." Joe Whiting would go on to team with Auburn native the legendary Mark Doyle to form the "New Ridgewoods" and after adding  drummer Tom Glaister, bassist Barry Maturevity (a Ridgewood) and rhythm guitarist Chuck Baron plus changed their name to "Free Will". In the summer of 1967, Baron was replaced by John Dean and Bill Irwin added. In the spring of  1967 bassist Maturevitz was replaced by George Egosarian..

 A year later Egosarian was replaced by John DeMaso. In 1969 Bill Irwin left and George Egosarian rejoined the band. Freewill zoomed onto the music scene first covering their home base playing  Lake Dances in Auburn, Fabins in Skaneateles, Jordan-Elbridge High School and at East High School (Auburn) where they were one of the first to play a concert at a sit down auditorium, rather than a gym. They exploded into the Syracuse market playing the Scene (Dewitt), Jabberwocky (SU Campus) and Country Tavern. Their music was based on British Blues playing Savoy Brown, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall etc. They played the entire "Arthur" album by the Kinks and incredible melody by Spirit. We remember those famous Chuck Berry covers & Roy Orbison's version of "Candyman". They also performed  several originals as "Carry Me Home", "Ridin' With The Devil", and "Get That Shinning Sun". During this time period Free Will ventured to Connecticut recording several demo tunes in late 1969 . That session included the only recorded versions of the legendary songs "Are You Gone" and "State Police Googie" both originals.

With its lineup finally set in the fall of 1971, Free Will changed its name to "Jukin Bone."  Now with a recording contract with RCA Records the band entered Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland Studio in New York City in 1972  and recorded their first album for RCA "Whiskey Woman".  Now a lineup change drummer Tom Glaister married and left the band. He was replaced by two drummers Kevin Shwaryk & Danny Coward

Their album "Way Down East"  followed (1973) along with two singles "Whiskey Woman" (1972)  and "Cara Lynn' (1972). One very important fact of note, Jukin Bone was one of the most electrifying live band you will ever see. They went on tour, but never received enough promotion across the country, although they perhaps came very close to national stardom.

Their November-Decxember 1972 tour consisted of the following stops- Alabama (Montgomery & Huntsville), Arkansas (Ft Smith), Iowa (DesMoines), Kansas (Wichita), Louisiana (Monroe, Shreveport), Minnesota (Duluth, Minn,-St Paul), Missouri (Columbia), North Carolina (Ashville), North & South Dakota, Tennessee (Memphis), Texas (Austin, Dallas, Harlingen, Houston, Odessa, San Angelo, Waco) and Wisconsin (Madison, Sheboygan).

 July 14, 1973, drummer Danny Coward departed leaving Jukin Bone just a four man group (Mark Doyle, Joe Whiting, John DeMaso & Kevin Shwaryk). In the fall of 1973, Jukin Bone  one of Syracuse's greatest group disbanded. Mark Doyle went to play with DUV (Dave Hanlon, Rick Cua) and David Werner, Joe Whiting joined Bobby Comstock on tour and the rest went their separate ways.

Note- Hall of Famer's Mark Doyle & Joe Whiting's musical legacy continues to this day. They both deserve a total blog store by themselves at a later date. Thanks to both they are great friends and a credit to our Syracuse musical heritage.

 The band reunited and recorded  live tracks that would become the Cd "Free Will Live on Stage" ( a majority recorded at the Key Bank Rock & Roll Festival at Clinton Square, June 1999)  and released in June 2000 on Free Will Records. They again reunited for the 2004 Sammy Award Show followed by a performance at the Dinosaur Bar B Que that weekend. Some of those tracks were recorded and released on the Cd "Get Boned" that is available on Mark Doyle's website.

When we look back John Dean, Bob Dean, Holly Gregg and soon to added new drummer Peter Dean collectively would soon become the Hall of Fame band the "Dean Brothers". But before that happened Holly Gregg, John Dean , Peter Dean (on drums) and Robbie Howard formed the "Gayblades. After about a year (1972) Howard departed and the band name changed to "The Gallery".

With all key member of what would be the Dean Brothers band together Peter Dean released the 45 rpm single "Forever Sunshine b/w "One Man Jack" in 1969. Organist Sal Costanzo was added staying with the band for about two years. Members went there separate ways  between 1970-7, Bob Dean served in the Peace Corp.. The Gallery were forced to make a name change when a national group of the same name had a national hit song "Nice To Be With You"

They reformed in 1972 as three of the members were out of school and Bob Dean returned from his Peace Corp work in Brazil. Along with that came a new name  "Brandywine". Brandywine ventured to Long Island and disbanded for a couple of years before members returned to a new name the  "Dean Brothers". John, Bob, Pete Dean and Holly Gregg all vocalists with great harmony specialized in a wide variety of music including many original songs and provided a great night of fun for all.  The entered Pyramid Studio in Ithaca, NY and recorded their first album. The album "As They Are" on the Pilgrim Record label was delayed for a time for business matters.

At the point the Dean's met the music folks at WOLF Radio AM-1490 (Howie Castle, Ron Wray & Rick Gary). Their first single "Sell My Misery" hit the WOLF charts in Feb 1976 ( nine weeks reaching #7). Their album "As They Are" was finally released in December 1976 dotting the WOLF playlist for 26 weeks.

 It was followed by maybe their biggest hit "Who Loves You" in Jan 1977 (10 weeks reaching #4) and then "Early In The Game Of Love" (1978)  both receiving heavy airplay. They performed live at the Brookside, Firebarn Tavern and Under the Stone to name a few. The Dean's also entered Dayson Studio and recorded "Words of Love" for Ron Wray's "We Remember Buddy Holly- A Syracuse Tribute EP' (1978) that sold into 13 countries around the world.

With the departure of Peter Dean and Holly Gregg and the additions of drummer Jimmy Johns (later Bill Ford) and guitarist Jeff Steele the Dean Brothers Band released their second album "Little By Little" and the single  "Where Will I Be" b/w "Single Man"  July 1979 (charted for 15 weeks).

The original members then reformed and recorded many great Christmas classics all heard on "Big Mike Fiss's" Christmas albums and Cd series (1992-2007). They included "A Night Before Christmas With You", "December",  "Underneath My Christmas Tree" and "This Must Be Christmas" with Gary Frenay.

We are sorry to say that oldest Dean Brother sound engineer Tom Dean passed away in 2004. In a much happier event, the Dean Brothers were inducted into the SAMMY's Hall of Fame on June 5, 2009. The Dean Brothers (John, Bob, Peter Dean & Holly Gregg) continue to play to this day and served as MC's of the 2012 SAMMY's Hall of Fame night at the Dinosaur Bar B Que. Through the years the Dean Brothers have been great friends and have earned the reputation as being one of the very best band in CNY music history.

Ron Wray- John D'Angelo - Pete Shedd

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