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David Pack’s “Napa Crossroads” Album Release Celebration

Monday, April 28 at City Winery

David Pack is known as the former lead singer of Ambrosia, the hit-making progressive rock band of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and as the Grammy-winning producer of artists like Aretha Franklin and Phil Collins, and of mega-events such as the two Clinton presidential inaugurations.

“What most people don’t know is that I’ve been a fan of fine winemaking and viticulture for over 35 years,” Pack said last week. “Part of it is a natural outgrowth of my love for the art of winemaking and of Napa Valley itself. It’s been my secret heaven-on-earth place to visit for many decades.”

Pack joined forces with talented musicians and songwriters from five prominent valley wineries to create “Napa Crossroads,” a recorded collection of original music that will be celebrated in a benefit performance at City Winery on April 28. He calls the CD “my love letter to Napa Valley.”

The inspiration for the project dates to a day at Gargiulo Vineyards a decade ago. “I performed at Jeff Gargiulo’s harvest party and concert in 2005 at his winery in Oakville,” Pack said. “That’s where I met a lot of these winery owners playing their guitars and singing their hearts out on stage. I watched these iconic wine figures looking like 18 year old kids when they had guitars in their hands. It reminded me of my original joy making music.”

A year later, the first musical collaboration between Pack and one of the winemakers inspired the eventual format of the album. “Jeff Gargiulo and I, and country singer Billy Dean, had written a song for Jeff’s daughter’s wedding, a song titled ‘April Born in May,’” Pack said. “We sang it at the winery in 2006. I saw the reaction, I saw people crying. And I saw the pride in Jeff Gargiulo’s eyes performing that song for people years later. It turned out to be the first song for ‘Napa Crossroads.’”

In May of 2009, Pack began to methodically produce the album. “I decided that I wanted every song to be composed in Napa Valley, and every song to be recorded in Napa Valley, and that’s how the record went,” he said.

In addition to his work with Gargiulo, Pack co-wrote songs with Suzanne Pride Bryan of Pride Mountain, Larry Maguire of Far Niente, David Duncan of Silver Oak and Carmen Policy of Casa Piena. On three of the album’s songs, Pack co-composed with his friend, David Benoit. For the recording sessions, he brought in prominent additional musicians, including Ray Manzarek, Alan Parsons, Todd Rundgren, Bela Fleck and Larry Carlton. The album is dedicated to the remembrance of Manzarek, who died in 2013.

At the celebration at City Winery, there will be performances by Pack and the Napa Crossroads Band, with guest appearances by Alan Parsons, country singer Jimmy Wayne and Robert Schwartzman. The Silverado Pickups, David Duncan and Jeff Gargiulo’s band, will also perform.

Proceeds will benefit Arts Council Napa Valley and the Music Connection, a Napa Valley nonprofit that supports music in schools.

• Monday, April 28, 7:30 p.m. $75. City Winery Napa. 1030 Main St., Napa. 707-260-1600.

French chamber music and dance

Saturday at Jarvis Conservatory

Musique et Danse: French Infusions – The Fellows of the Orchestra Institute of Napa Valley will perform an evening of French chamber music. The program will include compositions by Debussy, Manoury, Ravel, Saint-Saëns and Poulenc.

Saint-Saëns Fantasy for violin and harp will be accompanied by Smuin Ballet’s Erica Felsch and Weston Krukow performing the choreography of Kevin Jenkins.

• Saturday, April 19, 7 p.m. $15 at the door. Jarvis Conservatory. 1711 Main St., Napa. 707-255-5445.

Heads Up

Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band, May 26 at the Uptown Theatre

The man who played the relentlessly annoying and entertaining Dr. Gregory House for eight seasons on TV is a Billboard chart-topping blues pianist, vocalist and bandleader. He brings his big stage show to Napa on May 26. $40, $65, $85.

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David Kerns is a Napa-based freelance journalist. You can view more of his work at


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