Canadian music lovers may be familiar with Lunch at Allen’s, Canadian supergroup comprised of legends Murray McLaughlin, Ian Thomas, Cindy Church and Marc Jordan. An audience in Humboldt saw its own version assembled on the stage at the Gathering Place on Saturday night. Brian Grest stewarded an awesome assemblage of local musical talent including Lady Friday (Jodie Hergott, Katie Nichol), members of 40 Oz Philosophy (Nathan Gregg, Brett Hyrnewich), and folk-rock mainstay Walter Bushman. While the group spun around the vocal duties during the evening, it was Grest who provided the anchor with a wealth of Canadian Music Stories, impromptu quizzes and his trademark self-deprecating humour.  

Grest kicked off the show of covers the audience knew by heart with a perennial Neil Young favourite, Heart of Gold. Then, he launched into a 60’s protest song, Eve of Destruction, by the gritty-voice Barry McGuire. Grest’s talent for vocal mimicry was on display all evening, morphing from one familiar artist’s style into another throughout the two sets. 

Grest and Walter Bushman teamed up on a beautiful rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence, Walter taking Paul’s melody line while Brian tackled Art Garfunkel’s high register harmony. 

The magical fingers of Katie Nichol provided a piano interlude with Frank Mills’ instrumental Music Box Dancer. Then Nichol teamed up with Lady Friday partner Jodie Hergott for a completely deconstructed and reworked piano and vocal version of Chris Isaak’s moody standard, Wicked Game, complete with flawless harmony and a haunting descant.  

During the show, drummer Nathan Gray pulled up the mike, contributed an Ian Tyson duster and took a turn at the Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feeling. 

Walter Bushman also had a go at some of his and the audience’s favourites. Reminiscing about Canadian folk icon Valdy’s visit to Humboldt, and Bushman’s request, Walter introduced the true to life narrative of Rock and Roll Song. 

Grest joked that some of the evening’s offerings were fuelled by revered AM DJ’s Wal and Den and shows like Best by Request from a bygone Saskatoon pop station. Gems like It Never Rains in Southern California, the Monkees’ Daydream Believer and Billy Joel’s Piano Man all fit that bill. 

With all the talent on stage, there was a near endless parade of vocal permutations, including Grest’s and Hergott’s rendition of Suzi Quatro’s Stumblin’ In, complete with the gravelly voiced Chris Norman emulated by Grest.  

The audience revelled in the hits of the past. After the final set, the band stuck around for more classics, cabaret style, with an encore mini-set. The show was a fundraiser for the Gathering Place with the support of the Humboldt Lions Club.