The Vinyl Cafe 25th Anniversary

by Olivia Michalczuk

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the popular and internationally broadcasted Vinyl Cafe.

The Vinyl Cafe is a staple for long car rides and evenings with your family around the radio. People around the world have the chance to relive the stories of the Vinyl Cafe with their new production of a two volume set. 

“We couldn’t let the occasion pass without doing something to celebrate,” said Jess Milton, producer of Vinyl Cafe. 

“I mean, that’s pretty much what we do at the Vinyl Cafe: shine the light on things that deserve to be celebrated.”

The two CD set comes with Volume I Dave and Morley Stories, and Volume II: Postcards from Canada. The latter features 21 essays recited by Stuart McClean at live Vinyl Cafe concerts across the country.  

One of the featured cities in “Postcards from Canada” is Winnipeg. Stuart McLean shares his experience in Winnipeg on stage live at the Winnipeg Centennial Concert Hall. McLean shares his love of the city with an enthusiastic crowd. Proud Winnipeggers will both learn something and be graced with warm familiarity. Every name drop of notorious local businesses is met with cheers laughs and hollars. It is a truly representative view of the city which makes you excited to listen to the other episodes. 

“Everyone talks about Stuart as a storyteller, but the reason he was such a good storyteller is that he was a tremendously good listener. He listened. He observed. He understood people. He understood the country. He was a conduit for other people’s stories. He was a mirror that was able to reflect the country back to itself,” said Milton. 

“That’s why I’m so proud to release Volume II ‘Postcards from Canada’ in particular. Because, for the first time, those stories – the stories about the towns and cities that we visited, are being released on an album.”

The Vinyl Cafe has several local connections. Local violinist, Julie Penner, was music editor for the Vinyl Cafe. The show also had many local fans who petitioned to have the live Vinyl Cafe show at the Centennial Concert Hall. “For years they wrote and emailed us, asking us to add Winnipeg to our annual Christmas Tour,” said Milton. 

“Eventually we did, and I am very glad we did. The audience in Winnipeg was always so much fun.” 

Music is still the central theme of the Vinyl Cafe “Every show had music as the pulse,” said Milton.

Dave, the fictional character featured in the “Dave and Morley Stories” is the owner of a record store called the Vinyl Cafe. “Music was central to his life, to our stories, but also to our radio show, and our live tours.”

Milton is proud of the music featured on the show and said over its run, Vinyl Cafe worked with dozens, if not hundreds of Canadian musicians. “Their work made our work better. That’s what all great music does – it makes life better.” 

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