This story was originally published in the Lewiston Tribune July 9, 2010.By JENNIFER K. BAUER
of the Tribune
For a particular generation of teens now reaching retirement age, there is a building in downtown Lewiston that was an unforgettable landmark of youth.
From 1962 to 1973, a door at 848 Main St. opened to a flight of stairs that led to the second-floor ballroom that was Casey’s, a nonalcoholic teenage dance hall. Here played the Kingsmen, hot off the success of “Louie Louie.” There were Paul Revere and the Raiders; Sparrow, which later became Steppenwolf; Roy Orbison; the Yard Birds; Moby Grape; and countless others.
Casey’s has been silent for decades but its legend lives on in those who frequented its psychedelic interiors. It inspired a slew of local bands whose members are returning in 2010 for Talkin’ Bout My Generation, a reunion of the musicians and fans that were the ’60s music scene in Lewiston.
“The Beatles hit in early 1964, (Pat) Patoray opened (Casey’s) in 1963. It was timed perfectly,” says Michael Feeney, a retired Lewiston architect and music fan who first visited Casey’s in 1965.
“Kids saw the Beatles on ‘Ed Sullivan’ and said, ‘I’m going to start a band,’ ”
Members from eight of 12 bands from the era will play at the two-day reunion. The event began with the idea of getting one band together privately, says Feeney, and expanded to include nearly all the local 1960s rock bands because musicians played in multiple bands and all knew each other. Fewer than five of the musicians still live in Lewiston, Feeney says. The rest are coming from out of town, including one who went on to fame, guitarist Paul Speer, now based in Memphis, Tenn.
Speer and his brothers Neal and Gary formed the popular Lewiston band Stone Garden while they were at Lewiston High School. Speer’s music, which ranges from new age to progressive rock, was later nominated for a Grammy award. His brother Neal will also perform at the reunion. Brother Gary is deceased.
Casey’s was founded by a lumber man, Michael (Pat) Patoray. By day Patoray worked at Clearwater Lumber in Spalding, by night he planned the weekly acts that would blow local teens’ minds.
“To look at him you wouldn’t think this guy is hip or really knows the music scene,” says Tom Williams, a member of the Lewiston bands the Lounj Men, later renamed the London Company; Village Music Wagon; Free, renamed Valhalla; and Sleepy John.
“One of the nice things about Casey’s, particularly for the musicians in Lewiston, is that they got their bands good enough to play Casey’s. Pat would give professional criticism and encouragement at the same time while also bringing in all these great groups to serve as examples. These musicians were leading the scene at that time and that had a lot to do with inspiring so many bands in Lewiston,” he says.
Michael Patoray, Pat Patoray’s son, only visited Casey’s once and that was during the day, but he says he is aware of “the unique place that Casey’s has held in the hearts of many from around the valley and beyond.”
“That it is still remembered and regarded so fondly here in 2010 is quite a testament to my father’s vision, his love of music and his hard work,” says Patoray, who lives in Spokane, where he is host of a world music program on Spokane Public Radio.
Patoray says his father was proud of his achievement. “He’d be prouder still to see that he made a difference.”
Patoray died in 2000 at age 79. His son Casey, who the venue was named after, lives in Grangeville. His daughter, April Smith, lives in Lewiston. Three other sons live around the Northwest.
Williams, a drummer, put music aside for 40 years to manage a furniture manufacturing company. Now semi-retired and living in Auburn, Wash., he took up playing again last year. He helped plan the reunion with Feeney and Don Tunnell of Eagle, Idaho.
“It’s just amazing. People have been on board and excited about it,” Williams says.
After playing bass guitar in the Rising Sons, which became Village Music Wagon, Tunnell went on to a career as a music manager. His clients include Denae Gardner and Jimmy Bivens and he has produced and directed video projects featuring the Rolling Stones, Ted Nugent and Metallica.
Casey’s had everything to do with his career choice, Tunnell says.
“It gave me the opportunity to look at the inside of the business by being in the band,” says Tunnell, who had to cancel his appearance at the reunion because of commitments in Nashville. His first manager was Patoray.
Casey’s was almost always full to its 700-person capacity, Feeney says. They hope the reunion, which benefits the Idaho Food Bank, can rekindle that passion and some memories.
The reunion will feature performances by musicians from The Seniors/the Paradons (1961-2010), the Lounj Men/London Company (1964-67), WJ & the Fantastics (1964-65); the Van G’s (1964-67); the Rising Sons/Village Music Wagon (1966-69); the Stone Garden/the Speer Bros., (1966-72); Village Green/General Store (1966-71); and Sleepy John (1969-71). Shows will also include members from the bands Free/Valhalla (1968-69), Tyme Conspiracy (1968-69), and Beat Beat/the Invaders (1968-71).
Bauer may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2263.