Wednesday, January 2, 2008

oh night divine...

Steve and I had a very Canadian experience a few weeks ago. We attended a live Vinyl Cafe Christmas show at the University of Toronto's Convocation Hall. For those of you who are a) not Canadian or b) don't listen to CBC radio, the Vinyl Cafe is a one-hour, weekly variety program on CBC Radio One. It features stories, music & essays. Mostly, it is centered around the fictional family of Dave, the owner of the Vinyl Cafe Record Store, his wife Morley, their children Stephanie and Sam, Arthur the dog and Galway the cat. It is the brilliant creation of Stuart McLean, a magnificent writer and master storyteller.

Stuart McLean, hard at work.

Up until recently, I had only heard a few episodes of the Vinyl Cafe but each one made me laugh or left me completely emotional. Luckily, the CBC has added the Vinyl Cafe to its podcast lineup, so I now get a weekly dose. But seeing it live adds another level to the experience. I had seen pictures of Stuart McLean so I thought I knew what to expect visually from the performance. I was completely unprepared for what we saw. McLean was unbelievably energetic, on his toes as he told his stories, practically airborne. I hadn't expected so much movement from him but it only heightened the experience. His timing and delivery are impeccable. He was simply brilliant.

In addition to the fantastic storytelling, there was music. Two fabulous Canadian talents, Allison Russell and Danny Michel performed with the "house band" featuring Chris Whitely on guitar & trumpet, John Sheard on piano and Dennis Pendrith on bass. The music of these talented individuals added another dimension to the night. Danny Michel's performance of Snowglobe was a particular highlight as was Allison Russell's Till It's Gone.

Allison Russell & Chris Whitely

Danny Michel

If you are a fan of the Vinyl Cafe and have the chance to take in the live show, you must! And if you haven't yet listened to the Vinyl Cafe, do it! You will not be disappointed.

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