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Troutdale welcomes home singer-songwriter

Katelyn Convery to perform mostly original set at SummerFest July 23

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ASHLEY NEWELL PHOTOGRAPHY - Katelyn Convery is promoting her album 'Unarmed,' songs of which you can hear her perform Saturday, July 23, at Troutdale SummerFestThis Saturday’s Troutdale SummerFest is a homecoming of sorts for singer-songwriter Katelyn Convery.

Set to perform from 1-2 p.m. in Glenn Otto Park as part of the July 23 celebration, Convery says the fire that drives her music career was sparked in Troutdale, where she lived the first 10 years of her life.

“The first time I ever sang by myself to a crowd of people was in kindergarten in the Troutdale Elementary School gymnasium,” she says, adding, “I remember being hyper focused on what I had to do and felt really proud of myself when it was over.” 

The SummerFest takes place from 7:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Saturday, July 23, and up to 2,000 folks are expected to attend, organizers say.

Following a pancake breakfast in Mayors Square, a parade with dozens of classic cars as well as the Get A Life Marching Band takes place at 10:45 a.m. on the Historic Columbia River Highway through Troutdale, and then moves to Glenn Otto Park, 1106 E. Historic Columbia River Highway.

Park activities features music, facepainting, an egg toss as well as a water balloon toss, food, a dunk tank and pony rides.

Friendly guitar

Convery lives in North Portland now, and also attended Gordon Russell Middle School as well as Barlow High School. She took up guitar in her teen years because, she says, “I needed it to better explore the melodies in my head.

“I’ve never thought of myself as a guitarist,” she says. “But the guitar and I do have a special connection that has given birth to many songs.”

Convery has released one album, “Unarmed,” and funded it, in part, by uploading a video of her Troutdale elementary school singing debut on YouTube for fans to watch. You can also check out the grownup Convery video for the bouncy, gentle folk song “That Was Then,” which has a bit of a Norah Jones feel, on YouTube as well. The song exemplifies the ska-like rhythms she pairs with folk, pop and jazz song structures to create her music.

“I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on ‘Unarmed’ and I am hoping to set up a tour for the summer of 2017,” Convey says, noting her songwriting really took off when she taught English in South Korea from 2008-2010.

“I didn’t know a single person when I arrived there, and the initial solitude meant the only friend I had was my guitar,” she says. “I still perform songs from that time period, and a couple are on ‘Unarmed.’” 

Convery has also performed in Spain and South Africa as well, busking in a park in Barcelona during the summer of 2010, for example.

“There were many other acts performing throughout the park, and competition was friendly but fierce,” she says. “You had to really be ‘on’ to make it financially worthwhile.”

When she lived in South Africa, she was able to land a record contract, but an album she recorded never got released due to the record company’s financial difficulties. She also began playing gigs in wineries and at weddings.

“I learned a lot about rhythms and writing more engaging, light and happy music,” she says. “South Africans aren’t too keen on the sad, introspective music that Northwesterners appreciate. They can also be a pretty tough crowd. They know what they like and aren’t afraid to ask you to deliver it.”

Armed now with thick skin and her guitar, Convery will perform about 75 percent original material along with some covers at SummerFest.

“I like to throw a few covers in there,” she says. “The audience can then see the stylistic changes I make to the covers, and I think it helps them place my originals better.”

To learn more about Convery, visit katelynconvery.com

On tap

In addition to Convery, the SummerFest features eclectic Americana band The Junebugs, from 7:30-8:30 a.m. in Mayors Square, followed by jazz-Hawaiian group The Midnight Serenaders, from 9:15 to 10 a.m.

When the fest moves to Otto Park, you can hear roots rockers The Slimjims from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by Convery at 1 p.m. Buddy J.’s Jamaican Jazz Band takes the stage at 2:30 p.m.

For more information, visit “Troutdale SummerFest” on Facebook.com.