Stuart McLean is cooler than any one of us. He spends his time writing his stories for The Vinyl Cafe while listening to albums like Wilco's Sky Blue Sky or Coldplay's Vida La Vida. Not only does he write stories about Dave, Morley and the family, but he also helps program the music and produce the show for the CBC. He also spends time behind the microphone as host for the show.
Coming to Calgary as part of The Vinyl Cafe Christmas tour Dec. 4 and 5, McLean has spent his time on the road in all sorts of places big and small. While the large cities are great audiences, he's found a special thrill from visiting the small towns-- even finding a surprising connection between small Canadian towns and vast American cities.
"In Cleveland, Indianapolis and Detroit, people were coming up to us and thanking us for coming as if we were doing them a favour," explains McLean. "These are cities that we've only read about and we're getting thanked, which usually only happens in small towns in Canada. In big cities in Canada, people will thank us for the show, but the audiences in small towns will actually tell us thanks for coming because they usually don't get a lot of acts."
He's made it a specific goal of the show to help introduce Canadian musical talent to the world through The Vinyl Cafe. He's very proud to be helping promote young musicians to the world at large through his show-- he played cuts off of Feist's records before she ever thought of wearing a sparkly blue suit for a music video.
"Part of the CBC programming should be devoted to new and interesting music worldwide," explains McLean. "Because we're funded by the people of Canada, I thought one show should concentrate on the music from home. I thought that something for our show was to shine the light on people who might otherwise not have the light shone upon them. I wanted our show to become the gathering place, where people who are interested in music that is happening now and today will come to us."
With the increasing availability of music on the Internet, much has been said about the explosion of Canadian musical talent making it big in the world. McLean believes that this isn't a new wave of Canadian artists finally being recognized, but another generation of Canadian musicians getting the torch passed on to them from predecessors like the Band, Paul Anka and Neil Young.
"There have been lots of Canadian musicians have done well over the years," says McLean. "Neil Young who was the linchpin in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Look at the Band-- four of the five guys were from Ontario and they revolutionized rock 'n' roll with Music from Big Pink. What's happening now is that the new generation is starting to march onto the stage. They're not the first to walk on, but it's great to see that this is a tradition that this is going to continue. Even though the world is a noisier place, it's great to know that our artists will still be heard."