Lunch At Allen's serves up a rich buffet of musicianship, songwriting and friendship

The musical review known as Lunch At Allen's performed a seamlessly crafted musical engagement punctuated with impromptu wit and engaging story-telling on Sunday night at Aeolian Hall

Composed of four iconic Canadian singer-songwriters -- Murray McLauchlan, Cindy Church, Marc Jordan, and Ian Thomas -- the group derives its name from what began as a casual musical gathering of friends at Allen's Irish Pub in Toronto. Since that time they have toured and performed regularly with one another, releasing several group albums.

They took the stage and Ian Thomas immediately informed us of how pleased they were to be performing in such a great venue with such a fine sound system and acoustics.
From there the group proceeded to do justice to the hall and the audience. The music they played together was precisely and professionally crafted. There was never a note out of place or a voice out of tune.
However, the comic banter and wit between songs was anything but rehearsed. Murray  McLauchlan and Marc Jordan's one liners had zing. But, it was Ian Thomas' manic mimicking of all the voices from the Dickens' movie classic A Christmas Carol, starring Alistair Sims, and his stream of consciousness banter that were the most fun. Cindy Church played the demure lady-like foil to their boyish musings.

'Tis the season, so many of their songs came from their recently released Christmas album Zu-Zu's Petals. The members of this group are all experienced songwriters with pedigree and success.
Stylistically, the repertoire ranged from a Django Reinhardt version of I'll Be Home For Christmas to the country swing of Cindy Church's Oh What a Christmas Eve, to the Tom Wait's-like humour of Marc Jordan's, I'll Sober Up For Christmas If You Take Me Back. McLauchlan added the touching tale of family and tradition with his own Old Tin Star.
But not to be forgotten were the familiar and famous audience favourites, sprinkled in at the appropriate times. Jordan's hit Marina Del Rey, accompanied by his musings about L.A., Telly Savalas, and yellow Speedos. Thomas' Painted Ladies, and finally as part of a two song encore McLauchlan's Farmer's Song.
McLauchlan brought that song of the past right into the present. Musing about how we live in a world where people don't appear to have to do anything lasting or significant to achieve their moment of fame, he turned our attention back to the ageless accomplishments of those who till the land.
Unlike that farmer, the members of  Lunch At Allen's have in a sense each had their moments of fame along the way. But like that farmer, they have continued to honestly till the soil of musical performance, songwriting, and friendship to bring forth their rich harvest.

[Photo Credit: Marc Lostrocco]

Lyle Goorvich is a a former school teacher, vinyl enthusiast and lover of music.



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