Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Creating Community, a musical tribute to Kulak's Woodshed

I've written a lot about Kulak's Woodshed, which is here in my neighborhood of Valley Village (North Hollywood), California. It's a place that has no cover charge, and it has featured, and still continues to feature some of the most amazing talent in the world, all of which is broadcast live over the Net.

That it exists at all is a miracle of will performed by Paul Kulak, who says he got his inspiration from, believe it or not, my own work at National Academy of Songwriters many years ago, where I, along with Blythe Newlon Brown, Paul Zollo and Dan Kirkpatrick, produced a songwriter showcase at the legendary Troubadour in West Hollywood.

Paul has filled this little music space with video cameras and he mans a group of volunteers who run the cameras and sound equipment. It's truly a community effort that wouldn't exist if people didn't give their time and talent and money to make it happen because, aside from the overhead costs, there are business people in the neighborhood who are trying to get it shut down even though, at night, there is nothing else open on either side or near the place.

I just don't get some people. This is one of those rare instances where an otherwise dark cityscape is given life and light and music. And if we're heading into darker days with the economy, it's even more important that neighborhood hang-outs like this exist, where the many retired folks and families and their pets, and even a street person or two, from the neighboring areas can come in from the cold and be entertained without the invasion of drugs, gangs, carousing or danger.

Paul Kulak has spent, literally, tens of thousands of dollars, having to defend the Woodshed before the city council, zoning commissions, etc. because no one can believe that someone would just put something up out of the sheer love of doing it. The legal roadblocks are staggering. But Paul is a stubborn guy who refuses to let anyone destroy this dream.

There's one guy in particular who is determined to shut us down because he has an office he uses at night next to the Woodshed, even though sound testing as shown that our little acoustic space generates less noise than the trucks and motorcycles barreling down Laurel Canyon Blvd. It's become a battle of wills, with lots of angry, dishonest and spiteful things being hurled in our direction -- and I say "we" because I've become a volunteer on the cameras and the Monday Night Open Mic has become, echoed in the words of Dave Morrison, also a singer/songwriter, "church" for me.

At the top of this entry is a musical tribute that I finished up this past week. I hope you enjoy it. It's called "Creating Community," and it's my newest song.


Anonymous said...

A great song and write-up!


Anonymous said...

I gotta go. I gotta get there. I gotta go.