This afternoon my mom, my godmother and her mom, and myself all went to see Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe Christmas Concert at The Centre for Performing Arts in Vancouver. I have been reading Stuart’s Vinyl Cafe books since I was about 12 years old. My parents gave me Home from the Vinyl Cafe for Christmas one year and I was hooked! I also download the podcasts because I can never seem to catch the Vinyl Cafe live. Last year I wanted to go to the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Concert but it didn’t pan out in the end, so as soon as I got a notification that they were coming to town again, I called my mom.
For those who haven’t grown up with this iconic Canadian storyteller in your life, Stuart McLean hosts the Vinyl Cafe show on CBC Radio. The Vinyl Cafe stories center mainly around Dave and Morley and their two kids, Sam and Stephanie. It’s not your typical family (mainly because of Dave…), but the stories are so hilarious and heart-warming that you can’t help but love them.
It was so great to see Stuart McLean in real life! We were in the back row of the Dress Circle (middle balcony) but there is no bad seat at the Centre for Performing Arts. Stuart had three shows in Vancouver and they were all sold out! No surprise as he is a dynamic host, talented speaker, and brought along fantastic musical talent. Joining Stuart and his regular musical tour accompaniment was Jill Barber and Matt Anderson. Jill has a swanky, almost-nasally 50’s-style voice and Matt has a loud, strong, jazzy-blues voice. They were complimentary yet drastically different (in a good way). The music wasn’t strictly Christmassy either which was really nice.
After the show I lined up to meet Stuart and have him sign my copy of the most recent book, Extreme Vinyl Cafe. I am only slightly embarrassed to admit I ran to the bookstore during intermission to buy a copy. I honestly thought they’d be selling it at the merchandise table, but they were only selling backlist titles. But no matter, I got the book and got it signed too. Stuart chatted with everyone in the line-up (I was third, but I assume he was just as chatty with everyone) and wanted to know what our favourite part of the concert was.
Stuart gave away prizes to the youngest and oldest members of the audience, with help from an 11-year-old assistant. The youngest was 4 weeks old, with runner-ups being 11 weeks and 5 months. The oldest member was 92 years old. The entire concert was great and I would love to see him live again. Listening to him speak on recordings and radio is great (his voice is amazing), but his interaction with the audience is fantastic and added that much more to the experience.