British Columbia

Community music group finds harmony in VPL recording sessions

“Everyone gets to get their fair shot at being a star,” said one member of Joy of Cooking, a community music group made up of vulnerable downtown Vancouver residents who are recording music for the first time at the Vancouver Public Library's studios.

Joy of Cooking, a music group of vulnerable Downtown Vancouverites, is making their first recording

The Joy of Cooking community music group takes a break from recording to pose for a photo at the Vancouver Public Library's main branch. (Jeremy Allingham/CBC)

A community music group made up of vulnerable downtown Vancouver residents is taking its tunes to the next level.

The musicians of Joy of Cooking are recording music at the Vancouver Public Library this week to explore their musical abilities with covers of two songs: Free Fallin by Tom Petty and The Weight by The Band.

"I really wanted them to be able to listen to themselves and kind of see what it's like when you really dissect music and dissect yourself so you can make your playing better," the group's musical director, Mike Meroniuk, told On The Coast's Jeremy Allingham.

"Basically, I just wanted to see the patrons, the people who come to the classes, to see them evolve."

Two members of Joy of Cooking agreed the sessions were having an impact on them, as individuals and as a group.

"Everyone gets to get their fair shot at being a star," said group member Scott Pilgrim, who says after being a lip-syncing female impersonator for decades, recording his actual voice is "a treat."

"So now it's actually going for the biscuit," he said. "We've been having a great time. It's a roller coaster ride and it's a lot of fun."

"It gets me out of a rut I was in at home," group member Robbie Coombs added. "For the last eight years, I haven't done anything, even so much as karaoke. But we've been involved in this program for the last three to four months … and it's just something new every day."

Mike Meroniuk is the musical director of Joy of Cooking. (Jeremy Allingham/CBC)

Meroniuk says there have been some nerves as the group members stare down the recording booth microphone, but the group is supportive of each other and is sounding great.

"Really, the music I think is secondary. I'm really wanting them to foster real relationships as a community. And that's what they've been doing," he said.

With files from Jeremy Allingham and CBC Radio One's On The Coast

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Community music group makes tracks to VPL studio to make tracks