Local Singer-Songwriter Aly Whelchel Returns to Stage in May

One of Canby’s top home-grown musical talents will return to the stage next month, as dynamic singer-songwriter Aly Whelchel hosts a concert May 8 at “Fort Wayward,” the outdoor dining area of Wayward Sandwiches in downtown Canby.

Like most musicians, the multitalented starlet with the jaw-droppingly powerful pipes was sidelined for much of the past year due to the pandemic restrictions that severely curtailed most gatherings, including live music performances.

While most gigs were being indefinitely postponed, even Whelchel’s work schedule at Canby Music was impacted due to the early shutdowns as well as the store’s move to its new location last summer.

“For me, I don’t play a ton of gigs, so that didn’t affect me as much,” Whelchel says. “But I still had a lot of time on my hands, and I really wanted to make sure I spent my time well.”

For most people, 2020 was not an easy year, but those challenges inspired meaning and creativity for many artists — including Whelchel.

“A lot of songs came out of me during that time,” she recalls. “And there were a lot of musicians rising up in social media, talking about the pandemic and, really, just making it very poetic and beautiful even though it was sad and hard. It was really inspiring.”

Her song “Submarine” was a pandemic-era creation, as was “Holy and Sacred,” for which she recorded a music video with a few friends at the Canby Pioneer Chapel last December — and which included a choir of backing vocals drawn from across the community.

“It was really fun because I got to have people send in vocal recordings from their homes — which I put together to make a choir effect,” she says. “In the song, there’s one part where it’s, like, 50 tracks stacked together, and it was actually really difficult to mix, but it was so much fun.

For Canby Music owner Brian Haines, who will also be performing at the May 8 concert, playing the drums and providing backup vocals, the pandemic was an odd time for other reasons.

He spent most of the early months as a “construction worker,” finishing the significant renovations needed to transform a nearly century-old house on Northwest 1st Avenue into the new home of Canby Music.

The break from live performances, lessons and basically all things music was a huge adjustment for Haines — and, in hindsight, not an altogether unpleasant one.

“I had been playing music non-stop since I was 13, and to just not play, and watch the chops slowly deteriorate was actually kind of exciting for me,” he says with a laugh. “It was a new challenge, you know, ‘Can I get it back?’ And I did, but in the re-learning, I went about things a little differently, and that was fun.”

At any rate, both are psyched about the chance to return to the stage for the May 8 concert at Wayward.

“I am very excited,” Whelchel admits. “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve always been kind of scared and intimidated about doing gigs, but the more it happens, the more I feel like this is really who I am.

“And I’m so excited to see the people. There’s a whole different kind of energy when people are there, and you go off of that. You know, that’s where the magic happens.”

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