Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Fifteen years ago, a trio named Peter, Paul and Mary did for folk music what the Kellogg company had earlier done for another kind of corn: processed it, standardized it, sweetened it a little and put it in a bright package for mass consumption. Thursday night at the Cellar Door, one third of that trio, Mary Travers, proved that in at least one respect her solo personality does not follow that of the old group: Her material was not over refined.
In some way, her first set Thursday night was more like an open rehearsal than an act you would pay to see; she was breaking in new men on keyboards and lead guitar. They are obviously competent musicians, and by the time the run ends Sunday night the act should be tight enough for night clubs. The real problem lies deeper - in the quality of the Travers voice which is strong, clear and precise, and therefore makes it easy to hear how dumb (simple-minded and Morally Improving) most of her new material is.
She should get her friend David Buskin to write more material for her: his "Man-Song," along with some of her old-time numbers, was one of the few that came across as though she really meant it and cared.