For TV viewers, at least, David Luning's "American Idol" journey ended Thursday night at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, more than 300 miles from where it started.

The Forestville man was eliminated from the top-rated reality TV show in the group round, where contestants perform for judges in groups of three or more. Luning was one of 104 aspiring singers to make it to the Dolby Theatre, from an initial pool of about 75,000. A winner will be crowned in May.

The elimination, which actually happened back in December, was not a big surprise, Luning said.

"The day of the performance, we sat down and did interviews during the morning and then we performed late that afternoon," said Luning, who classifies himself as a singer of Americana music. "We were able to do a rehearsal that day, but it's a whole different ballgame on stage. In rehearsals, we sounded really good.

"I think we did all right (in front of judges). But one of the problems is that in a group setting, it doesn't always play to everyone's strengths. I feel like it could have been a better song. There were some people who were struggling. Harry (Connick Jr., one of three "Idol" judges) said something like some people are meant to be runners-up. I felt like we were done then."

The performance wasn't shown on the episode that aired Thursday.

The group with Luning included Lindsay Pedicone, 18, of Kennett Square, Pa.; Casey McQuillen, 21, from Andover, Mass.; and Donald Reed, 26, from Opelousas, La.

They sang the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way," although Luning voted for a different approach.

"We had to come up with the vocals, the arrangement, the choreography," he explained. "The cool thing was that we had a vocal coach. We finally got to bed that night about 3:30 a.m., and we were up for breakfast at 6:30 a.m.

"Our group was actually pretty cool. We had an indie singer, a folk and pop singer, an R&B singer, and I was Americana. We picked the Backstreet Boys song. We all knew the song, but it was not my first choice. I wanted to sing 'The Chain' by Fleetwood Mac."

Luning, 27, is a graduate of Summerfield Waldorf School in Santa Rosa.

His initial "Idol" tryout was at AT&T Park in San Francisco last summer, and he isn't opposed to trying out again next year. Age limits for participation on the show are 15 to 28.

"It has been a huge push with my career," Luning said. "I've been working with a booking agency for festival gigs and singing at a lot of other places. And a lot of people now know about my music."

The show featuring his performance of an original song that aired two weeks ago was seen by an estimated 18 million viewers. Luning was not shown on this week's two episodes.

For now he'll go back to performing, making music videos, perfecting his craft and writing music.

You can visit Luning's website at and follow "American Idol" with daily updates at