When you carry around a repertoire that some consider part of the “soundtrack of many Canadians’ lives,” you know you’re dealing with a group of Canadian music industry legends.
And the roster of Lunch At Allen’s, which is performing at the Tidemark Theatre on Monday, certainly does read like a who’s who of Canadian music, at least of a certain generation.
Murray McLauchlan, Ian Thomas, Marc Jordan and Cindy Church each individually bring a repertoire that would have any audience singing along and smiling in recognition of some of Canada’s biggest domestic and international hits.
Whispering Rain, Farmer’s Song, Painted Ladies, Pilot, Marina del Ray and more are on the set list of Lunch At Allen’s, having garnered their authors hours of radio airplay and thousands in record sales.
They will be kicking off a tour of B.C. with their performance in Campbell River on Monday that will take them to other stops on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the Interior.
After a little due diligence at home to keep the musical chops sharp and then some rehearsals with the band to sharpen things up, the principals of Lunch At Allen’s will take a plane out west, pile into a couple of cars and roll on to their concert dates.
On tour, Lunch At Allen’s (LAA) keeps it simple. They’ve all had the experience of the rock and roll tour with the trucks, the equipment and the vans.
Luckily for LAA, they began as friends deciding to form a group. The group literally began as three musicians – McLauchlan, Jordan and Thomas – who used to get together for lunch at…you guessed it, Allens Restaurant on Danforth Avenue in Toronto. Church is the outsider in that she was recruited after the band’s formation.
McLauchlan had virtually stopped performing after quadruple bypass heart surgery. But, as Ian Thomas explains, he came to the realization that when God gives you a gift, he intends you to use it and after a period of idleness, proposed LAA as a one-off back in 2004. But from there they kept getting asked to do another tour, and it developed a life of its own.
Because they liked each other from the start, they can keep it fun and that helps when touring at this stage of their long and storied careers.
“This is basically good friends on tour. It’s a much different dynamic than going on tour with trucks and crews and back up bands. We are each other’s back up,” Thomas says on the phone from his studio in Dundas, Ontario, less than a week before the tour begins. “We don’t do the van thing. Like most Canadian musicians, we’ve spent far too much time in a van.”
Murray, Marc, Cindy and Ian have certainly seen more than their fair share of touring vans. That’s why they keep the whole project fun, light and easy.
“It’s great fun with Murray, Marc and Cindy for sure,” Thomas says.
“If the routing’s good then it’s a joy. If there’s insane, long drives before a sound check and a show…we’ve tried to explain to promoters we’re too old for that shit. We like to have some relaxation. We like to have a really good meal, a nice bottle of wine on the table before shows. There’s part of a ritual there.”
He describes a Lunch At Allen’s show as “a kitchen party on stage.”
Lunch At Allen’s performs Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Tidemark Theatre and then again, Tuesday evening at the Sid Williams Theatre before rolling down-Island to Nanaimo’s Port Theatre on June 15 and in Victoria’s McPherson Playhouse June 16. Tidemark tickets are $43 plus taxes and fees and are available at the box office or by calling (250) 287-PINK, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.