‘What keeps us playing is the people who want to hear us’: Lunch at Allen’s headed to the Rawlinson

Lunch at Allen’s members Murray McLauchlan, Marc Jordan, Ian Thomas, and Cindy Church pose for a photo. The group will perform in Prince Albert on Tuesday, June 20. -- Submitted photo.

After writing thousands of songs and singing on millions of CDs, you’d be forgiven for thinking the four members who make up Lunch at Allen’s had done everything there is to do in the music world, but that’s not how they see it.

Nearly 20 years after releasing their first album, musicians Murray McLauchlan, Marc Jordan, Ian Thomas, and singer Cindy Church are still touring venues across Canada. They’ll add Prince Albert to the mix on Tuesday night, when they visit the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.

“Raising one’s voice in song and in harmony with friends like Marc, Cindy, and Murray … is akin to therapy,” guitarist and songwriter Ian Thomas writes in an email to the Herald. “Marc and Murray and me are still heavily engaged in writing new songs and recording new albums. Seems at this point, there might always be fresh songs that keep bubbling up as long we live. My last words will probably be a song idea or verse.”

The Lunch at Allen’s quartet has released five albums and toured coast to coast for the last 20 years. That alone would qualify as a full career for most groups, but it’s just the tip of the spear of Lunch at Allen’s.

The four members have used their singing and songwriting talents to contribute to more than 25 million CDs, with members penning hits for a wide variety of stars like Bonnie Raitt, Rod Stewart, Bette Midler, and Cher.

“It is really just about the best validation a writer can experience,” Thomson writes. “When someone invests their career in the performance of your song, it truly is an indication that your song has managed to speak to someone on a fairly visceral level. It’s also a stroke of good fortune in my life that I don’t take for granted. A couple of song covers put my kids through university, so I have a good chunk of gratitude in there as well.”

Even by himself, Thomson has compiled a lengthy creative track record. He recently finished his 19th album, and embarked on a 10-city tour of Ontario with his own band before heading west with Lunch at Allen’s in June. His song-writing efforts earned him the SOCAN National Achievement Award for Songwriting in 2014, along with Juno Award wins in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

These days, Thomson writes that he’s not interested in performing for the music industry, but he and the rest of the Lunch at Allen’s gang are happy to keep performing for the fans.

“What keeps us playing is the people who want to hear us,” he writes. “The stale or fresh metaphor gets kind of headed off at the pass in that every performance is a little different. Audiences like some songs more than others in kind of a random way. The performances vary, so those moving targets don’t get stale.”

The June tour through Alberta and Saskatchewan marks the third time Lunch at Allen’s has hit the road since the COVID restrictions were lifted. Thomson wrote that their first tour back was bizarre, but welcome.

Tuesday’s trip won’t be his performance in Prince Albert, but he’s still excited for it.

“I didn’t realize how much I missed singing with other people,” he writes. “We are communal by nature so it is a satisfying feeling to be communing with one another and our audience again.”

Lunch at Allen’s performs at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Tuesday, June 20. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.