Like many a parent, local mom Megan Ell faced the challenge of raising teenagers and all that it entails. Until the day that she came up with a unique solution: Start a band.
She started playing with two of her daughters, Kaylee, age 14, and Allee, 13, along with longtime family friend Heather Moore, and the family has never been closer.
The band, named “Mae Day” after another one of Ell’s daughters, is quickly becoming a fixture on the coffee house, farmers market and winery circuit, performing several gigs a month, including at Wayward Sandwiches in Canby and the Sandy Mountain Music Festival this summer.
“It’s a great thing to do with the family,” she says. “It gets them off the video games, and it really helps with bonding with the girls.”
Ell grew up playing music, starting on the piano at age 6 and guitar at 11. By 14, she was singing lead vocals and writing original music for a Portland country/folk band and playing festivals and lounges throughout the metro area.
Then, as they say, life happened. She went to college, started a family and eventually earned a master’s in teaching from George Fox University.
She became a middle school English teacher at Western Christian School in Salem, where Allee and Kaylee are currently in the seventh and eighth grades, respectively. As her girls got older, Ell says, she found herself wanting to reconnect with music and, a few years ago, made her way to the Canby Music store to shake off some rust.
Ell has taken several series of lessons from the Canby Music crew, including lead guitar from owner Brian Haines, and Kaylee and Allee are learning drums and vocals, respectively — the two roles they play in the band.
“These guys are like a family to us,” she says of Canby Music. “It’s so comfortable here, I feel like we could just come and hang out. They’re helpful and resourceful and super friendly.”
While the band has become a bonding experience for Ell and her girls, the original idea emerged when she and Moore started playing together years ago in a worship band at Canby Foursquare Church.
“Heather is like a sister to me,” she says. “We’re not blood-related, but we’ve been playing together and collaborating for a long time. After a while, we had the idea to form our own band and play some of our favorite songs, some original songs — all family-friendly stuff — and the rest is kind of history.”
Ell plays guitar, piano and vocals in Mae Day, while Moore adds vocals, keys and tambourine. Kaylee, who is also in her school’s jazz band, says the drums were a natural fit.
“I’ve always liked rhythm,” she says. “When I’m in class doing nothing, I would always just beat out a random rhythm, so I was like, ‘Why not try the drums?'”
The band plays “a little bit of everything,” including tunes from across the folk, pop and rock music spectrums from the ’60s through the ’90s. Most of it is a little before the Ell girls’ time — but as it turns out, that fits, too.
“We actually really like old music,” says Allee, who happens to be wearing a tie-dye Beatles shirt at the time. “We always have.”
Canby Music is located at 590 NW 1st Avenue. For more information, call 503-263-2263 or visit canbymusic.com. For more information about Mae Day, including upcoming gigs, visit the band’s Facebook page.
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