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Ride continues for founders of The Cool Rays

Bluestar will bring plenty of pop-rock history to its gig in McMinnville

Bluestar, 2012
Bluestar, 2012
Casey Nova and Mick Roy, 1989
Casey Nova and Mick Roy, 1989

Mar 7, 2013


(By Clark McCay / for Bluestar) Casey Nova was a guest at a friend's wedding when he first met singer-lead guitarist Mick Roy. Mick was 15 years old, providing solo musical accompaniment.

"He was seriously good," Casey recalled. "I was an ambitious young singer-songwriter, but a novice guitarist. He had major chops, and at only 15. Plus, he had a huge voice, while mine was high and, well, undeveloped."

Four years later, Casey and Mick were in rival Portland rock bands, vying for bookings. At some clubs, Mick's band would open for Casey's, and the next night they'd switch places. "We were usually paid a pitcher of beer, with semi-clean glasses, for two or three hours of music, whether we were the opening act, or the big stars. 

"So the playing order didn't matter that much, except of course the second band could claim a slight superiority." Inevitably, the two became offstage friends.

In 1983, they decided to join forces by forming "The Cool Rays." Both lead vocalists, the pair learned to harmonize with one another on Beatles songs. Their repertoire was a high-energy mixture of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Who, and Doors hits with their own original tunes. The band became popular in Portland and then hit the road, where they tightened performances on a grueling three-month tour in Alaska.

"We would go onstage at 8 pm, and play until 3 am, seven nights per week, in a 2,000-seat nightclub," Mick said. "It was usually packed to the walls."

Future tours took The Cool Rays though the US and Canada for several years, as well as several months gigging at a Japanese nightclub -- located on the 35th floor of a skyscraper. Casey and Mick toured and recorded together until 1995. "I think we needed a break from each other," Casey reflects today. "We headed off with our respective girlfriends, and formed separate bands. Sometimes I'd attend his gigs, or he'd attend mine. Honestly, for the next sixteen years, I really missed being onstage together."

In late 2011, Mick asked Casey to consider re-uniting "for just one very cool show." They rehearsed, played the gig -- and kept going. Casey had been the Cool Rays' rhythm guitarist, but took up 4-string bass for the new band, "so we could keep it a trio." Drummer Wade Daughtry, a veteran of Los Angeles bands with his own touring experience, joined in early 2012. The trio call themselves "Bluestar."

Bluestar will perform Friday, March 15, for downtown McMinnville at the Cornerstone Coffee Roasters. The pop-rockers will play from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Catch them if you can.

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