The Cahuenga General Store, Sam Smith and Pete Seeger

Jogging down Cahuenga Blvd. for a bit of exercise and a browse at The Iliad Bookshop when the Cahuenga General Store was espied beyond Chandler Blvd.

This place captured my curiosity and wandered down to see what was what and was pleasantly surprised by what was inside. There was a stage and one of the best PA sound systems I’ve seen at many a venue. There are two modulators on the stage and mics. I just stood there with my mouth agape until I finally was able to ask Chloe Hallenbeck, a very knowledgable manager, what was the stage all about.

As it turns out there was a recording studio upstairs at one time and it was facilitated by a relative of Hallenbecks. The same relative, an uncle, installed the sound system.

There no longer is a sound person at the Cahuenga General Store, so anyone that does manage to get a spot on Tuesday nights will need to do it themselves. This event runs from 7pm to 8pm and each set runs for approximately 3 1/2 minutes. The lineup usually features 20 acts which are selected by lottery.

This open mic gig is free to attend, but those that enter the lottery pay $7.00 which can be used for food and/or drinks which are also a feature of this quaint venue.

Acts range from spoken word to comedy and can also feature an acoustic guitar accompaniment to the set, but it may not be used for songs…even original compositions.

According to Hallenbeck there were more nights of music, but the Cahuenga General Store had to stop because of ASCAP’s, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, wanting $1,500 a year fees for the acts to perform. When I inquired about that including original materials by non-ASCAP or BMI, Broadcast Music, Inc.,protected compositions Hallenbeck confirmed that it did.

Jim Morrison might have liked this place as a venue to run his existentialist poetry by unsuspecting audience members.

This is a must keep on my list of places to “be” in. The Cahuenga General Store is located at 5510 Cahuenga Blvd., telephone them at 818-985-5916, or go to their website @


Another fun spot to hang out and listen to music is Pitfire Artisan Pizza on the conrer of Magnolia Blvd. and Lankershim Blvd. This venue features low key music that blends with the atmosphere as part of it’s ambience and is not really meant as a showcase for an act. On Friday, Saturday, Sunday the music is DJ’ed, Tuesdays feature trivia and music,Wednesday there is a guitarist , and on Thursday there is a cover band.

This venue does rotate it’s acts as they have changed during the time that I’ve been visiting this spot. When I first hung out here there was jazz on Thursday and Saturday.

Shannon King, general manager, adds that there is not a lot of room to dance to the music as there is no dance floor. Located at 5211 Lankershim Blvd., you may contact King at 818-980-2949 to see if they are accepting new acts.

Back in February I wrote a story on the 57th Grammy Awards and mentioned Sam Smith not being original enough to warrent winning 4 awards for his “Stay With Me” tune that has tracks that line up perfectly with Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.”

Smith and Petty reached an agreement on this issue, but this “cloning” issue is not going away any time soon.

A few weeks ago singer Johnny Legend made a remark regarding how difficult it is these days to come up with songs that pay homage to one’s “inspiration” without getting sued. The way I heard it, it sounded as if he felt that it was okay to take his “inspiration’s” tune and adapt it as his own without paying royalties. This is never a good thing. Just pay the darn royalties or work a little harder at being ORIGINAL. The very act of lifting one’s work from another is called sampling. Vanilla Ice, members of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Who have been sued or served by someone they did not credit for their “inspiration”. It’s a recurring issue which needs to stop…please just pay the royalties and give credit where credit is due.

It was my pleasure to attend a tribute to folk singer Pete Seeger at the Theatricum Botanicum a month ago.

I had never been to this theater which was founded by Will Geer, aka Grandpa Walton, and it is a lovely way to spend an afternoon…especially communing with nature on Topanga Canyon.

During my youth I never really was into folk music and I figured out that it was because I simply could not dance to that kind of music…once a rocker always a rocker? This time I felt moved by the melodic tunes and it left me feeling a bit melancholy. The depth and originality of the music was stirring and got my feet to tapping, maybe I’m just getting old. Theatricum Botanicum could really use some financial help via donations and sell out performances so how about checking this place out during this season. There is a “Walton’s Weekend” planned for August 7&8, 2015 which could be a hoot. It’s located at 1419 N. Topanga Canyon. Phone number is 310-455-2322 and their website is