Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

When we last saw them, back in 1970, Peter, paul and Mary were fading relics of a protest decade, musical victims of the demise of organized idealism and the passage of time. Puff and all the other magic dragons had left for the coast, and for most people, the premiere folk group of the 1960s disappeared without a trace.

Thursday, before an adoring sell-out crowd at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, Peter, Paul and Mary brought it all full circle.

Back together, and well into a three-week, 17-city tour, the folk group brought to Howard County the best and the worst of their triumphant 10 years on the American music scene.

Thursday, there were those strong distinctive voices, the accomplished acoustic guitar work, and an overbalance of sincerity, truth and beauty.

There were bright spots, though few of them involved the new material that made up only half the performance.

Peter Yarrow's "Steuball," Mary Travers' rendition of Elton John's "Indian Sunset," and the redoubtable "Too Much of Nothin'" were among the highlights in a show bogged down by the melodic guideposts for life in the 1970s offered by the group.

"Best of Friends" is a pleasant piece of work, but beyond that, the group's new material is rife with wall-sampler truisms and song-writing cliches descending even unto Billy Joel's insufferable "Sadness and Euphoria."

The crowd Thursday was patient, and while they stopped short of holding up matches, their treatment of Peter, Paul and Mary was as reverential as the group's treatment of itself.

Still there was Dyan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "If I Had a Hammer" and "Puff the Magic Dragon." Out on the lawn at Merriweather Post amid the mosquitos and the jet engines, it was worth the price of a ticket to sing along with "Blowin' in the Wind" without a hint of self-consciousness.

Given the barren state of popular music currently, we could do much worse than Peter, Paul and Mary redux. They may just be passing through, but Thursday at Merriweather Post Pavilion, they made a lot of people happy.