Community Music

Vinyl Revival – Open Mic Night

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.

The Performance area at Vinyl Revival.
The Performance area at Vinyl Revival.

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.

Door repurposed as a table top.
Door re-purposed as a table top.

Darren Sawchuk

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. 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.

A Caring Community

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.

David Bowie, overseeing the proceedings.
David Bowie, overseeing the proceedings.

Vinyl Revival Beverages

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.

A warm, comforting, Chai Latte
A warm, comforting, Chai Latte
Vinyl Revival beverage
Fruit2O lime twists

If you’re sitting around wondering what to do Wednesday evenings, head to Vinyl Revival for open mic night. No matter how cold it is outside, you’ll find a warm welcome inside.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.