Although the group name “Lunch At Allen’s” sounds innocuous enough, there is wealth of individual star power and history within their ranks. Then again, referring to the folk-pop band – comprised of celebrated Canadian songwriters Murray McLauclan, Ian Thomas, Cindy Church, and Marc Jordan – as having any kind of star power or insinuating that they might be a sort of supergroup might be construed as unbecoming for any group of Canadians songwriters, regardless of their past achievements.
But what a set of achievements they have to boast of: Individually, the Lunch At Allen’s roster have been responsible for an enviable string of Cancon hits including Thomas’ 1973 track “Painted Ladies,” McLauchlan’s “Farmer Song,” and Jordan’s “Marina Del Rey,” but also have penned songs for the likes of Chicago (“Chains”), Santana (“Hold On”), Rod Stewart (“The Rhythm of My Heart”), America (“Right Before Your Eyes”), and more.
Thomas insists it is that cannon of work which they have respectively amassed over the last number of decades that made joining forces such a brilliant idea to begin with.
“The whole idea of getting the four of us together really started with Murray,” Thomas says, speaking in advance of the group’s performance at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre on Wednesday evening. “He had quite playing for a little while, but then wanted to put a songwriter’s circle type of band together, but rather than having four people get up on stage and play their own songs, he wanted it to be more of a communal thing, where everyone would get their turn in the spotlight, but also back up the others.”
Thomas suggests that while he was rather familiar with the work of the other members of the band, being on stage together helped bring a new dimension and meaning to the bulk of the songs they perform.
“What I have found most wonderful about working with these four amazing musicians has been learning and hearing these songs from the inside out. You get to have a look at what makes each of them tick, and earn a whole new respect for them in the process. We breathe life into one another’s material that makes the end result so ridiculously good.”
While Thomas acknowledges hearing songs he has written interpreted through fresh sets of ears has been nothing less than invigorating, he saves his biggest accolades for the work of his bandmates.
“I had always heard Murray’s stuff on the radio, but it was when I began playing his songs on stage in front of an audience that I realized what a crafty songsmith he is. Murray has the uncanny ability to distill the most complicated of thoughts down to something that is understood and accessible by everyone. I’ve always thought his lyrics are these bodies of thought that are quite far reaching, and, almost more importantly, universal,” Thomas says.
“I’ve long been a fan of Marc’s work as well, but maybe tellingly, never cared for ‘The Rhythm of My Heart’ until I heard Marc share the story behind the song, and I heard him play it. I always felt Rod Stewart’s version of the song was a little too glossy, but I also understand that an artist at the level of Rod makes records for a mass market, and that’s perfectly fine. I feel Marc’s version really gets to the heart of the song in a way that I hadn’t necessarily heard before.
“And of course, Cindy is probably the hardest working of all of us, between the work she does with this band, her group Quartette and her solo work. She adds so much to the group, and is just such a pleasure to have on stage with us.”
With a handful of releases to the group’s credit, the most recent being if It Feels Right that was released this past June, Thomas says Lunch At Allen’s has become something much more significant than just another musical project.
What could have fizzled out after just a handful of performances 15 years ago has become a place that they each look forward to returning to whenever they are able to carve out the time to get together.
“That’s one of the best things about this band is that we’ve become such close friends over the last 15 years. There has never been any ego involved. When you’re in the midst of making a record and somebody offers their opinion, you listen to what they have to say because you know they have your best interests at heart. It’s a good place to be,” Thomas says.
What: Lunch At Allen’s
When: Wednesday Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $48.50. Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379 and online at www.capitol.nb.ca