Beautifying Napa's Uptown Theatre

Mar 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz



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photo of Napa Uptown Theatre

A couple of years ago, a new venue quietly began appearing in the San Francisco Bay Area concert listings: the Uptown Theatre. Not to be confused with Oakland, Calif.’s beloved sweaty shoebox, the Uptown Nightclub, the renovated art-deco Uptown Theatre is now the centerpiece of nightlife in the Northern California wine country destination of Napa.

Since it opened in May 2010, Napa’s Uptown has hosted 130-plus shows. Recent performances have included top acts Willie Nelson, The Pixies, BB King, Brian Wilson, Rufus Wainwright, Beck, Ryan Adams and others. “We’ve got sold-out show after sold-out show up here,” says the Uptown’s chief engineer, John Breglia.

Breglia, a veteran studio owner and former touring engineer with Clair Bros. (Brooks & Dunn, Martina McBride, Ministry, etc.) became part of the Uptown Theatre family after plans for the venue were well under way. The extensive redesign was created by a team at Meyer Sound; Brian Long and his colleagues Will Lewis, John Monitto, Steve Bush and Bob McCarthy, along with John and Helen Meyer, were all instrumental in putting a package together for Uptown co-owner George Altamura, a real estate developer and music lover who Breglia says comes to almost every show.

“George had owned the building for about 10 years before renovation happened,” Breglia says. “He was dedicated to restoring the building to its original art deco glory, but he was also totally dedicated to making it a real music venue. So the aesthetic is pristine, but there’s a lot of changes you will never see.”

Delicate Productions San Francisco was contracted to execute Brian Long’s plan. Breglia says the company was favored in particular because the owners and designers wanted to involve Phil Burke, who expertly handles Delicate L.A.’s rigging.

photo of The English Beat

The English Beat at the Uptown Theatre

“Phil did a lot of the structural steel work up in the ceiling so that we could run all our tow motors,” Breglia says. “And this was no small thing, because this could have been an architectural nightmare; it’s an old theater. We had to totally reinforce the ceiling.

“On the electrical side,” Breglia continues, “we have totally isolated systems for our audio through stand-alone transformers, so I’ve got a 400-amp disconnect for my main. I’ve got a 200-amp disconnect onstage for monitors—all isolated. That’s unheard of. Our lighting is isolated, too. We’re coming off a separate transformer from the city power.”

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