The folks attending Jay Leno’s performances this Saturday night at Napa’s Uptown Theatre are in for an extra treat. Northern California singer-songwriter David Luning, on the heels of his just released album, “Restless,” will open both of Leno’s shows.
A Sonoma County native, 30-year-old Luning grew up among musical family members. His father played guitar and bass, his uncle was a drummer and his aunt was a singer-songwriter. He describes his music as “folk, rowdy, Americana,” though that’s not how he started out.
On the phone from Sebastopol last week, Luning talked about his high school band experiences. “It was very, very different music,” he said. “I was doing experimental rock, really bizarre music where I would just be rocking out.
“My idol at the time was Mike Patton, and he is this wild, wild man and extremely talented. He was in Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas and Tomahawk and a bunch of other bizarre bands that are really, really amazing. The music I was creating at that time definitely reflected that. It was very different.”
After high school, Luning attended UC, Santa Cruz, where he studied, among other things, electronic music. From there, he headed to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he spent two years focused on film scoring. One night at Berklee, he was introduced to the music of an artist that would profoundly change his musical trajectory.
In his record label biography, Luning describes his epiphany. “A couple of friends invited me over to share some songs at their apartment, and that was the first time I’d ever really listened to Americana music or folk or country or whatever you want to call it. They showed me John Prine, and it just resonated with me so much. I was like, ‘Oh my God. This is what I have to do with my life.’ I just figured it out in that moment.”
Luning quit college, headed back to Northern California and immersed himself in writing, performing and recording his brand of Americana music. In 2012, he released a self-produced debut album, “Just Drop On By,” which led to a number of television and film score placements as well as concert appearances with Elvin Bishop, the Alvin Brothers and a number of others.
Luning’s new album was recorded under the supervision of Karl Derfler, who has worked with Tom Waits and Dave Matthews. His record label, Blue Rose Music, is part of a collective of artists which includes Luning himself, Jackie Greene, Steve Forbert and others. The unique organization donates a portion of its revenue to pre-school scholarships for financially disadvantaged children
At the Uptown, Luning will be accompanied by Ben Dubin on bass and harmonica.
Saturday, July 22, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Some tickets are available for the 10 p.m. show. $80-$120. Uptown Theatre Napa, 1350 Third St., Napa. 707-259-0123. UptownTheatreNapa.com.
Guitar virtuoso Andy McKee this weekend at Blue Note Napa
Andy McKee is an acoustic guitar master, a YouTube sensation with millions of views, and an innovator of techniques, instruments and tunings. He has been a musical sidekick of an array of artists from Josh Groban to Lee Ritenour to Prince, and has recorded 10 albums over the past 16 years. His latest is 2016’s “Live Book” on Tommy Emmanuel’s CGP SOUNDS label. Friday, July 21 through Sunday, July 23, 7 p.m. (doors open 5 p.m.) and 9:30 p.m. (doors open 9 p.m.). $35-$45. Blue Note Napa, 1030 Main St., Napa. 707-880-2300. BlueNoteNapa.com.