For singers, songwriters, musicians, music lovers, and especially singer-songwriters, there is a place in North Hollywood that is very special—sacred, some might say.
It's a place where anyone who believes in the power of music may sing or play a song live to an educated, music-loving and supportive audience. It has a comfortable livingroom atmosphere, with world-class sound and world-class lighting, guitar amps, a drum set and a grand piano.
It's a place that also offers multiple cameras, creates on-the-spot professional video editing and broadcasts your performance live around the world through the Internet.
The place is called , at 5230 1/2 Laurel Canyon Blvd., and it exists only because of some people's love of music. It is a small, private club. It doesn't sell food or drinks, or anything. It survives because of volunteers and donations.
Love from a lot of sources. Love from the volunteers who work the cameras and mix the sound, and who may play or sing on another night. From the performers, who might play their newly written song, or an old favorite. From the Grammy Award-winning artist, who may be trying out a new song or treating the audience to an intimate version of his or her last hit. From the audience members, who occasionally add some soft background vocals, harmony or back-of-chair drum beats.
Most of the love originates from the owner, Paul Kulak. He has been running the Woodshed since 1999. Paul also is the master mixer and editor behind the scenes in the control room making sure the sound, lighting and cameras are all where they should be.
Kulak's has been losing money for years, barely paying the rent on the storefront and barely surviving. I think Paul must be crazy to do this, because he works hard at it and doesn't really make any money ... so I asked him, why does he do it?
Paul simply states, "I love to celebrate singer-songwriters."
Kulak's has showcases, jam nights, clinics and more. But Monday night is "Open Mic Night," when everyone who shows up by 7 p.m. can sign up to play one song. They draw names from a hat and the order of performance is decided. Starting time for the performance broadcast is 7:30 p.m.(www.kulakswoodshed.com)
You can be a solo player or singer or bring your band. Sound is a factor, so even though they provide a grand piano, drums and amps, the sound levels are kept down as a courtesy to the neighbors. If you want someone to accompany you, just hang out at Kulak's. You will find other artists, or would-be artists, eager to play.
You can have Kulack's make a video too, so you can see what you are doing, and tell your friends all over the world to watch your performance on the Internet.
If you use the services, please make a donation. It's an optional donation of $10, but if you want a DVD of your performance it will cost you $20. This is a token fee, because a quality video made almost anywhere else could easily cost thousands of dollars.
You don't have to perform to go to Kulak's Woodshed or to watch the broadcasts. But Paul requests that music lovers check out KulaksWoodshed.com or catch some past performances on YouTube.
(Check out some of the video attached in the photo gallery.)