As the man said, Allen - Ward trio is un-hip... and it's also unfinished
"We're probably the most un-hip group they've had to their place in along time" Robin Ward of the Allen Ward Trio told the 17 listeners present for the last set at the Penny Farthing last night.
Robin wasn't telling a lie. At a time when most folk groups have a year or more of experience with electric guitars and the big beat under their belts, the Allen-Ward is just starting out in fact, according to Ward, the group's first public appearance with electronic amplification was last night's.
As a result, the Allen-Ward spent most of the time working out problems on stage that other groups solved long ago, not just little things such as how to adjust amplifiers but bigger musical problems as well-problems such as getting more than just added noise from electric guitars.
Add to this the group's current task of blending in the voice of a new girl singer, Donna Marie DeBoll, with regulars Ward and Craig Allen and everything last night sounded embryonic and unfinished.
Only two songs "Oh Babe, Ain't No Lie" and "The Other Side" (both comfortable and folk tunes)-came off particularly well. Others such as "Spin Spin", "Gordi's Lightfoot's tune and "Nowadays" (written by Allen) showed promise of things to come, but little else.
The Allen Ward Promises interesting harmonies, interesting rhythms and song treatments. But frankly none of their promises, if realized, would mean anything especially new. Even the Beatles are more adventuresome.
* * *
Joni Mitchell, at the Riverboat, is something else again.
Let's set aside her physical beauty. She's one of the most beautiful girls in folk music- a tall, willowy girl with long, golden hair and a striking finely chiselled face. But let's set that aside.
Joni is once a writer of extremely expressive and delightfully lyrical songs and a singer of extraordinary range of mood and loveliness of voice.
At the moment she's perhaps more successful as a songwriter. A host of other folk singers and even some country and western stars are doing her songs. Requests for them now average 400 a month.
Her songs are poetry-full of gently evocative images from nature. The prairies and the open spaces, as well as the dark sides of cities: Full of longing for sunnier places, sunnier faces, and sunnier seasons, full of loss of love, full of love.
As a singer, she's better known in the U.S.-not because as a Canadian from Saskatchewan, she wouldn't rather work here, but because the U.S. is where the work has always been. This is her only Canadian appearance until next August.
It's a pity, because as a performer she is an enchantress. She not only sings with beauty, feeling and style, she weaves spells. Every one of her songs last night was followed by a short silence before the burst of applause. She shouldn't be missed. She closes Sunday night.
* * *
Something Toronto still lacks is a modern dance club-one where, in addition to feauturing music, you get everything from blinding lights to movies all at the same time.
No, the Warp 7, which opened last night, billed as Toronto's "avant garde" club doesn't fill that need.
Compared to what can be found even in Buffalo this new club at the corner of Heros and Harbord Str. is terribly conservative. True the walls are covered with some interesting black and white images- mainly one borrowed from Leonardo Da Vinci. But there are no flashing lights-nothing in fact that couldn't be found in just about any Toronto dance club.
It simply doesn't live up to its name "Warp 7" a time-space scientific jargon. I'm told at "Warp 7" the body is supposed to disintegrate.
Last night while I was there any way, not only did no one disintegrate, but the band (The Big Town Boys) wouldn't even get anyone to dance.