Last Wednesday after work, I grabbed a bus and headed out to Vinyl Revival. Vinyl Revival, is a record shop, music school, performance site, and coffee shop all rolled into one. VR,as it is also called, is located in the old Tredwell’s Music store site just behind the Safeway at Pembina and McGillivray, Many years ago it was the place to stop in when I needed sheet music or choral scores.
Walking in, you’ll find a couple of sections where of LPs. The performance area is against the back wall to your right as you enter. There’s a small area where the beverages are served and where you can make your LP purchases. Finally scattered around the room there is a great selection of tables, chairs, and sofas for you to sit in while you listen to the tunes.
Vinyl Revival is the brainchild of Darren Sawchuk. Darren’s story has been told several times in recent months. His diagnosis of untreatable brain cancer, has not stopped him from performing, and it also hasn’t stopped him from turning Vinyl Revival into a place where seasoned musicians and young people looking to make music can come together to perform and support each other. One way this happens is through the Wednesday night Open Mike evenings. These generally start around 7 pm and run for three or four hours.
One of the seasoned musicians at Vinyl Revival open mike nights is my friend and colleague Geoff Woodcroft. The Narwhals, the band Geoff is in, usually play a couple of numbers at the Wednesday mic nights.You may remember me writing about Geoff’s marathon fund-raising attempt in support of refugee settlement. During that marathon, Geoff was supported off and on throughout the day by many of the people that show up at Vinyl Revival for the open mike nights.
This is another really great thing about Vinyl Revival. It is creating a community that cares passionately about music and just as passionately about the people that come there to make that music. It provides a place in particular where young musicians can try out not only their own performance styles, but can offer songs that they have written and be given positive and encouraging feedback to help them in their development.
On top of that, the presence of the more experienced musicians means at times they can experience working with a backing band, which they might not get otherwise.
Hiromi Osawa serves as emcee and brings a pile of stories about his life and travels pursuing the blues, along with introducing each act.
The variety of musicians means that you are also being exposed to a variety of styles and songs. One person that sometimes makes an appearance is the owner’s dad. He plays a pretty mean accordion. If you like dance tunes he’ll get your feet a moving.
As I said at the beginning, Vinyl Revival operates a coffee bar. There is no food available, but coffee, coffee beverages, tea, and a variety of cold drinks can be purchased. Last week when I was there I had a Chai Latte, and a bottle of Lime twist mineral water.
If you’re sitting around wondering what to do on a Wednesday evening, head on out to Vinyl Revival and take in the open mike night. No matter how cold it is outside, you’ll find a warm welcome inside.