Sunday afternoon Hubby and I headed down to the Winnipeg Centennial Concert Hall to enjoy the sights and sounds of Stuart McLean. I’ve been a huge fan of his since Stories from the Vinyl Cafe was first published in 1996. He was a family favorite and my dad would often sit us around the fire and read us these hilarious stories. By the end, we would all have tears streaming down our cheeks and we would beg for another. McLean has been a staple in our house for decades.
Hubby is a new fan to McLean. With CBC Radio blasting through our house on a daily basis and Vinyl Cafe podcasts played on rotation on long road trips, his conversion was inevitable. So we were both pretty pumped to see him live. We put on our Sunday best and headed out for a lovely afternoon of stories and music.
The Concert Hall was packed with everyone from excited children running around and begging for Magnum Bars, to painfully-cool teenagers, to the expected middle-agers. That’s the thing about Vinyl Cafe stories, they appeal to such a diverse demographic. What other author can boast a faithful following of 5-95 year olds?
McLean read an old favorite (where Sam creates a waterpark in his backyard) and two new stories -one a hilarious tale of Dave washing Mary Turlington’s brand new Lexus, the other a more reflective tale of Dave’s childhood. Both had me tearing up, though for completely different reasons. Yup, the writing is that good. I love listening to the smooth lilting voice of McLean, but I actually found his body movements distracting. He would be standing stoically in front of the mic when all of a sudden a limb with jerk out or his hands would flail rapidly about (I swear, that man has rubber wrists). It wasn’t graceful and failed to emphasize a point in the story. It was just distracting and awkward. I found it helpful to just close my eyes and listen.
Musical guest was Harry Manx, a blues musician who played eastern inspired blues. It was beautiful to listen to, though not terribly exciting to watch. He summed it up perfectly, “we’re not happy until you’re not happy”.
All in all, a wonderful afternoon. If you didn’t get a chance to see him this time around, don’t worry, he’ll be back. In the meantime, get your hands on a copy of one of his many books and spend an afternoon reading and laughing.