Backstage at the Vinyl Cafe

Backstage at the Vinyl Cafe

Backstage at the Vinyl Cafe welcomes listeners into the warm and comforting world of the Vinyl Cafe. Each episode features stories about Canada’s favourite fictional family: Dave, Morley and the kids, narrated by the late Stuart McLean and recorded live in concert. For the first time ever, long-time producer Jess Milton shares rare, behind-the-scenes stories from her 15 years touring, travelling, laughing, and recording with her close friend Stuart. This is a world that is rooted in kindness, connection, and the laughter of recognition. A world that brings people together to rejoice in our ridiculousness. A world where we celebrate the small triumphs over the adversities of the everyday: like trying to find the perfect gift for someone you love, or the first Christmas without your sister; like trying to stage manage the school Christmas pageant, or trying to defrost a turkey with a hairdryer (we’ve all done that, right?). Join us. New episodes every Friday. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.


May 24, 2024 50 mins

“Not everyone in the world is cut out to be a school janitor.”


We’re full of the milk of human kindness on this week’s podcast. We play Stuart’s heartwarming interview with one of our favourite Arthur Award winners and Jess awards an Arthur of her own – to a Vinyl Cafe character! Plus, a Dave and Morley story that you may not have heard before.

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“A hive of bees is like a harvest kitchen. They gather up the summer: the heat of the sun, the warmth of the rain…”


This week on the podcast, two Stuart McLean stories to whet your appetite for summer. In the first, Dave remembers an incredible woodland encounter from his youth in Cape Breton; in the second, Eugene puts Sam and Murphy on the trail of a bee line. 

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“It started like a sprint. One moment you were standing still, and the next you were running as fast as you could.”


Hold on tight! On today’s show, in time for Mother’s Day, two Vinyl Cafe stories about motherhood. And Jess shares a backstory about her own experiences – cue the bucking bronco!

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“It says it’s one of the most wonderful tastes in the world.”


It’s a gastronomical episode of the podcast today. Stuart loved writing about his favourite foods – both in fiction and non-fiction – and Jess has gathered some great examples of both for today’s show. Plus a hilariously endearing story about Sam’s first passion. 

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“He’s not well, Stuart.”


We’re going way back today with two pieces from pre-Vinyl Cafe days! One is a favourite you’ve been requesting, back from Stuart McLean’s regular appearances on Peter Gzowski’s Morningside. (Spoiler alert: You’ll see what happens when two presenters get the giggles on live radio.)


Excerpt from Morningside reproduced by permission of CBC Licensing. 

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“There are only so many holes a man can cut in his own house before he is told to stop.”


Today on the show, two classic Stuart McLean stories, including Odd Jobs. That’s the one where Dave tries his hand at some home renovations, with hilarious consequences. And Jess has a backstory about the magic of Vinyl Cafe audiences.

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April 12, 2024 46 mins

“I guess I figured having a fish head could come in handy.”


On this week’s episode Stuart celebrates the joys of birding and the Spring bird migration. And we have two springy stories, including a favourite from the Vinyl Cafe story exchange. To submit your short, true story to the Story Exchange, send it to

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“There is nothing like a wedding to addle people’s minds.”


Today on the pod we have two hilarious stories about marriage and proposal. In the first, Dave loses his wedding ring and fears it may have been swallowed by a duck! In the second, Dave’s mom Margaret surprises everyone by agreeing to marry again. And Jess shares her own experience of wedding rings and proposal.

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“Eugene’s fig tree is the best-known tree in the neighbourhood.”


We’re all about gardening on the podcast this week, with two Dave and Morley stories about the act of faith and hope that goes into creating a garden. 

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March 22, 2024 43 mins

“It was 4:30 in the morning and Dave was having a nightmare about something that smelled bad.”


On today’s episode we have a fragrant story from way back. And Jess chats in studio with Stuart’s old friends David and Elizabeth, who share how Morley got her name—and surprise Jess with some entertaining backstories of their own! 

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“It is the best maple syrup I have ever had, said Sam.”

We’re celebrating one of the wonders of spring on the pod this week: Stuart waxes lyrical about his favourite tipple, maple syrup, then tells a story about the time Dave tried to make his own. 

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“The kids were always up to something in the Narrows.”


This week’s episode is all about kids and what we can learn from them. The first story relates an adventure from when Dave was a boy. In the second, Dave’s adventures continue, with a little help from his son Sam.

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“By the end of the first trimester, Dave had put on 12lbs.”


A surprising theme links our two stories this week. In the first, Dave has a hellish trip to the grocery store—and Jess has a backstory about what shopping with Stuart was really like. Our second story takes us back to the early days of Dave and Morley’s relationship, when Morley is pregnant with their first child.

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"He was about to climb in—just for a second, just to see…"


Poor Dave gets himself into some tight situations in both this week’s stories. And Jess explores the snapshots of detail that enrich them.

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“'They tried to stop us,' says the old man. 'But we kept playing.'”

More about the joy of winter sports on this week’s pod. Including Stuart’s ode to skating from Jasper, Alberta. And a beautiful Big Narrows story about a memorable game of hockey from long ago.

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February 9, 2024 32 mins

“It was the greatest skate of her life.”


Love is in the air today on the pod, with a Dave and Morley origin story—the one about how they first met. For our second story, we’re bringing back the Vinyl Cafe Story Exchange, with one of our favourite listener love stories.

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“The secret to planting more trees, is to plant more trees.”

We have two hilarious Vinyl Cafe stories for you on today’s pod. Stories of things that happen at work. In the first, Kenny helps Dave out with something at the store. In our second story, Steph experiences a summer job like no other. And Jess digs into the research process behind the stories.

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"Galway began flushing the toilet again in the autumn…"

This week, two Dave and Morley stories that, in hindsight, seem strangely prescient. In the first, a fan favourite, Dave decides to teach Galway the cat a new skill. The second is a story that we haven’t felt comfortable playing in a long time. Jess explains why. 

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"It began simply enough. It began with a phone call."


On today’s episode, two stories about technical difficulties. In our first story, Dave attempts an inventive solution to an ill-considered phone message left for the Turlingtons. In our second, an electric razor causes him problems at the airport. And Jess shares some stories about Stuart’s habits with phones …and airports.

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January 12, 2024 45 mins

I resolve to organize upstairs.


Welcome back for Season 3 of Backstage at the Vinyl Cafe! We’re embracing the spirit of the New Year with a show all about resolutions and lists and getting things done. We start with an essay about Stuart’s fraught relationship with his to do list. And Jess has a backstory about her own relationship to lists and resolutions, and how that informed today’s Dave and Morley story. 

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