Stories lure listeners

By Jeff Labine
The Chronicle-Journal

Fans new and old of the Vinyl Cafe hope the show in Thunder Bay isn’t the last.

Stuart McLean announced over the weekend that his annual Christmas tour of the Vinyl Cafe would not be continuing after its performance in Thunder Bay as the CBC radio host learned he has melanoma.

Despite this, the show went on at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, which was nearly sold out.

 McLean took the stage to a standing ovation and simply told the audience to save it for next year.

One audience member shouted “we love you Stuart”, which he relied “I love you too.”

Cathi Auld, who has been a fan of McLean for years, was one of the hundreds who attended the show on Sunday.

She explained that her daughter was originally going to come with her but she ended up having to go shopping for bridal gowns with her sister. Thankfully, her husband was there to accompany her.

Auld said her daughter enjoys McLean’s stories as much as her.

Although Auld has been a fan for years, she explained it was a spur of the moment decision to purchase tickets after she read the tour had been cancelled.

“I thought ‘if he’s not coming back we better come today,’” she said.

“I do know the cancer is treatable. I have a friend going through the treatment right now and he’s come out the other side and doing very well. It’s not that (McLean) will never come back it is just that this is important.”

Auld said if the Vinyl Cafe were to stop, it would be a loss to adult literature and the spoken story.

Gail Fenelon said she listens to the Vinyl Cafe all the time and enjoys the stories that McLean tells because of how different they are.

With the tour cancelled, she believed that made his performance in Thunder Bay a bit more special.

“I don’t know any other storyteller and it’s a lost art really,” she said.

“It’s very sad that he’s sick and has cancelled the rest of the tour for everyone. But good for him that he is. He’s focusing on getting better and hopefully we’ll see him again. I’m very lucky to be here and very lucky that he didn’t cancel.”

Kathryn Orloci, 21, has been listening to the Vinyl Cafe since she was four years old. She said it has become a family tradition for her family to come to the Vinyl Cafe — a tradition that now includes Alex Arbery, who attended his first show last year.

For Orloci, the best part of the show is hearing the stories, with her favourite one being about Dave accidentally freezing his neighbour’s house.

She added she hopes for the best for McLean.

“It is a completely understandable reason,” she said on the tour being cancelled.

“I was happy that ours was going ahead.”

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