Music: Stay ‘Restless’

David Luning’s wanderings shine on new album

By Charlie Swanson

North Bay native David Luning was playing piano and studying film scoring at the Berklee College of Music in Boston when his world turned upside down, musically speaking.

“I was hanging out with friends who lived in my apartment building and listening to music,” Luning says. “They played me John Prine and Old Crow Medicine Show and Ryan Adams, stuff like that. I had never really heard that music before, and I knew then what I wanted to do with my life.”

That spark of inspiration led Luning to drop out of Berklee, return to his hometown of Forestville and take up the guitar in a transformation from cinematic composer to Americana troubadour. Now a fully-fledged rambling man, Luning presents his new album, Restless, in concert on Saturday, February 4, at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma.

After relocating, Luning built up a repertoire of country-tinged folk and assembled a backing band to join him on the road. His first album, Just Drop On By, came out in 2012 to widespread acclaim.

“(I wanted to) write about real things, and make it more honest,” Luning says of his early songwriting.

Ironically for the one-time film score student, several songs from the first album found their way into films and television programs, propelling Luning’s career onto larger and larger stages. A constant traveler, Luning has appeared at festivals all over the West Coast.

Now with Restless, Luning rises to the occasion with a polished, confident collection of country rock and Americana music that’s both radio-ready and emotionally resonant. He credits some of the new sound to album producer Karl Derfler (Tom Waits, Dave Matthews). “He knew where I wanted my music to be at, even before I knew it sometimes,” Luning says of Derfler.

Luning’s travels will continue after his upcoming album release show. “We’re going to play everywhere,” he says with a laugh. “And all the time.”

David Luning; Sat., Feb. 4; Mystic Theatre, 23 Petaluma Blvd. N, Petaluma; 8pm; $17-$22; 707/765-2121.

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