MEET DAVID LUNING
For many years, the downward spire created by a life in rock’n’roll was blamed on the beat. In the larger picture, that is probably true though there are certainly gateway songs and musicians. For David Luning, his time studying film scoring at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts came to a screeching halt by an education outside of the classroom. The credits rolled on David’s career in film scoring as he embraced a new calling and dove into life as a singer/songwriter, due to one day of random listening to music at the home of a friend. The musician that built the web that caught David Luning was John Prine. David Luning left the cold climate of New England and returned home to California, eventually recording Restless, his recent album release. The decision gave David Luning a purpose, took him into the studio, and put him out on the road to support his music. Backed by his longtime bandmates, David Luning is currently touring with Jackie Greene as well as headlining his own shows and performing at house concerts.
David Luning took some time to tell us the story:
David Luning: It wasn’t like someone sat me down and said you have to listen to this. It was friends hanging out. I had been at Berklee College of Music in Boston for two years (2007-2009) studying film scoring. My friend played me albums by John Prine and Old Crow Medicine Show. I was introduced to Americana through them. I had probably heard it before but it was the first time I had ever listened to Americana, or Folk, Country. My first thought was ‘Oh my god, this is what I have to do with my life.' I just figured it out in that moment. I realized that there was a wide range within Americana, and came to hear how that hybrid had become the norm.
I came back to California and began writing songs which led to performing. I played anywhere that would have me. I put together a band and the shows started getting bigger. I had a ‘do whatever it takes’ attitude. I put out an album (Just Drop On By) and kept touring and got some film/TV placements. I had about 80% of the material written for a new album when Karl Derfler (Tom Waits, Dave Matthews) came in to produce. The first thing he said to me was ‘we have to get more songs’. I would send ideas to him through my i-phone and we put the album together. We recorded Restless in California, at Stinson Beach (Panoramic Studios). I went into the studio with my band (Ben Dubin (bass, harmonica), Linden Reed (drums), and Dave Sampson (guitar, mandolin)). I wanted to keep the songs in the same vein of the music that I first heard in Americana. I realized you can’t just put anything out there and that every song deserves its proper treatment. You have to be honest to yourself. That being said, I try to keep a sensibility to the songs. With the first record, I produced and engineered everything myself. I'd never worked with an outside producer before, so it was nerve-racking going into the studio with Karl for the first time, but it was just a perfect fit. It was like he knew what I wanted in my music before I even did, and he could push my performances where they needed to go and really take my music to another level.
Touring with the album has been great. I love being on the road, getting off the road doesn’t feel like reality. I had so much fun on tour going from place to place and playing to new people all the time and I got into the rhythm of it all, so when it ended and we came home I wasn't ready to stop. We pulled into Ben's house to unload our gear and I said, 'Ben, we're packing up and we're gonna go somewhere tomorrow right? We're gonna keep on going right?’. We are heading back out on tour with Jackie Greene, and doing some house concerts, which I love. I love the house concert experience, very intimate and you get to hang out with new people. We will be heading out on our own for shows and festivals after the Jackie Greene tour.
The David Luning tour begins in late March and goes through April, 2017. The tour dates are:
March 24 – Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Music Hall
March 25 – Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Music Hall
March 26 – Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Music Hall
March 30 – Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Music Hall
March 31 – Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Music Hall
April 1– Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Music Hall
April 5 – Aspen, CO – Belly Up Aspen
April 6 – Denver, CO – Globe Hall
April 7 – Denver, CO – Globe Hall
April 8 – Fort Collins, CO – Aggie Theatre
April 10 – Kansas City, MO – Knucklehead's
April 12 – Saint Paul, MN – Turf Club
April 13 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
April 14 – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre
April 15 – Columbia, MO – The Blue Note
David Luning (from the album Restless by J. Alan Taylor)
Right from the very beginning of track one “Driftin’”, I knew I was in for a treat when listing to Restless, the recent album release from David Luning. Clean, pure vocals, simple yet thoughtful, and effective lyrics with a great hook. “Almost Sounds Like Laughing” has an upbeat celebration of the good times to be had in a great relationship. “Danger”, “Bet It All on Black”, “Royalty” and “In Hell I Am”, with their edgier themes, great guitar work and clever phasing, showcase not only David Luning’s vocal prowess, they also demonstrate his versatility in his songwriting. Restless gives a down-home party feel to “Ain’t Life a Beautiful Thing” as offers a great catchy tune, and one of my favorites, with “Be Like Gold”. Skilled harmonica riffs and David’s signature vocal abilities bring sound, soul and spirit together.
The smart phasing and great melody of “Restless Wander” are very appealing and haunting, simple and emotional is what comes to mind in “Brother in Chains” as the gentle lament of the heartbroken is demonstrated skillfully in “Gonna Forget About You”. I must say this track is perhaps one of the best post breakup songs I have heard. The last track, “Different Piano Song” a moving love song and stirs the soul with emotional, well-crafted lyrics and phasing. Again, David’s golden vocal is the at the center of this amazing track. I am really struck by the way David Luning serves up this work on Restless, and like his use of harmonica and banjo as a spice rather than a side dish and his choice of producer Karl Derfler was spot on.
The multiple talents of David Luning are clearly exhibited in Restless. Not one of the tracks is ‘filler’ which is notable as there are twelve on this album. He has set the bar high with thoughtful and unique styling, well-crafted lyrics and versatile vocals. I have a feeling this artist will make a notable mark with this exceptional work. J. Alan Taylor