In December 1999, Paul Kulak gathered some fellow music-loving friends to create a folky, speak-easy performance space that would seek to bring good acoustic music to audiences, both live and virtual. It is funded by patrons, operated by volunteers, and it consists of several cameras, positioned throughout the space that help show off both the talented singer-songwriters and the room’s eccentric décor. The performance calendar touts upcoming events, but what’s more impressive is the wide variety of artists who have preformed there – from emerging singers to Grammy winners. Due to LA zoning restrictions, members to the club pay a mere one-time fee of $5 and can bring up to five guests to see live performances in the 40-person capacity, 850 square foot space.
Those not in the LA area can catch the daily live shows from Kulak’s Woodshed at 8-10pm PST online through the live stream. If you miss the shows, catch clips from previous sets and particular artists in the archives, which contain music from the entire 5 years in which the club has been open. Interesting camera angles and artistic editing make for more entertaining video than would a stationary single camera, and artists like Kate Higgins, Lady Luck, John Andrew Parks, and many more, come to life on video like they never could on the radio. Besides the stream and archives, fans can check out the weekly Museletter (which highlights upcoming performers) and can even purchase the first compilation DVD. Those planning to visit the club should know that it is an alcohol-free joint and that various other beverages are located in the back and are served via the honor system. The site’s motto is “A Labor of Love,” and that’s the attraction for most of its patrons: good music brought to its audience without frills or exorbitant cost.
It’s videos like Maia Sharp singing “A Home” that show the limitations of the internet. If you’re into it, you’re going to want to be there. Maybe it’s the nature of folk music or maybe it’s the vibe of the venue, but the single-song videos are like teasing samples to those of us who don’t live in the Los Angeles area and can’t drive over to one of these uniquely intimate performances.