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Gulu-Gulu Café

Open Mic
Every Wednesday at 7:30pm
247 Essex St
Salem, MA

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  • Submitted by Dave Kraft
  • Last updated: January 11, 2013

Upcoming Dates

  • Wednesday, Dec 14
  • Wednesday, Dec 21
  • Wednesday, Dec 28
  • Wednesday, Jan 04
  • Wednesday, Jan 11

Always fun here and Jan 9th 2013 was no exception. I drew a low number to sign up and picked number 7. You only get 2 songs with 24 players signed up by 8PM. I broke the D string at the end of my first song, so I only played four minutes… oh well… that means one more player got a shot at the end. They cranked through the list pretty fast and were at number 19 when I left around 11:30Pm.
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 Dave Kraft (1/2013)
Dec 26th, 2012 Great times here again. I drew number 18 to play and they blazed through the list at warp speed averaging just over 6 acts per hour. John brought a 1946 Gibson acoustic and it had a special very cool sound. It took about two hours and fifty minutes to reach number 18. I think I kinda sucked last night, I kind of got wrapped up in Brian's Saxophone and botched a chord change or two and my tempo gained speed at the end like I am guilty of when I play with a band. I might go solo again to iron out my timing issues. Once I can't hear my rhythm guitar, I become repetitive without variation. This venue is quite difficult to get good feedback on how loud or soft you play and sing. Oh well, that's open mike for 'ya. Don't miss Black Dog Brother playing a free show with no cover charge on New Year's Eve!
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 Dave Kraft (12/2012)
Dec 20, 2012 Always a great vibe here. I drew about 11th for sign up and was delighted to see no one wanted the early slots so I signed up 5th to play. I was not getting very good feedback on volume modulation, like usual. Just getting over the bug going around town so I wanted to go home early. Glad I stayed for Clay's act, one of a tiny handful like myself that play classical guitars as opposed to the acoustics most openmikers use. I love his originals, kind of a calipso beat. I forgot what a good saxophone player Host Brian is, it really added some sexy texture to Clay's sound and Honor's drum beats. One thing I have never ever seen here is there was a reservation for a table with a sign that said reserved for 7PM. But it was 8pm. It looked pretty obvious no one was coming so we sat down there. Just as we got comfortable we were asked to move for people that were over an hour late. I have never heard of any restaurant that holds a table that long in a packed house. Kind of bogus if you ask me… telling regulars to move for people an hour late. Just one of the quirks of the place I suppose. Still a highly recommended event after about 30 times playing here. If you play early you can stop by Murphy's for a second set… a little more mellow a scene and very little wait to play.
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 Dave Kraft (12/2012)

Hey, what's up, guys! Hey, Dave!

The gig date that I recently played on the 12th will be my last personal solo gig at the venue until April, because that's when I'm going to be performing an Artist of the Month set. However, I can offer my two cents on the venue. It's a great place to eat, certainly; The Peanut Butter Crepe, the Barcelona sandwich, and the Blue Cheese salad are my regular, along with the Mixed Berry Smoothie! ;)

As far as the music has been concerned at the Gulu, there have usually been talented acts. However, the performances feel rushed in this venue, primarily because there could be two extra songs for each performer, as far as can be gathered. Either that, or one more song. I will say that the venue sports some talented acts, in regards to Black Dog Brother, Jon Saint Lauren, Norge, and others. I agree with you about the variety of the acts, Dan, because the fact is that the Gulu could make more concessions to performers' set. I don't like the featured act section in that regard; In fact, my featured set is going to be my last set at the Gulu for a long time.

From a performer's perspective, it takes forever to get ready because concessions aren't made for the musician to fine tune their set up. There really is no perfect way of doing it, but there's an honest hankering for more preparation that can be given and this includes being perfectly in tune. I don't think that the venue should allow out of tune musicians to go up. In fact, I will say that there are a few acts who aren't great at the Gulu… There are some lesser bands that play (Certainly not you, Dave.) Still, though, the fact remains that the Gulu is a pretty decent venue for some acts to play.

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Nick King (12/2012)
A great time was had by Lucy and I on Dec 12, 2012. The crowd was a bit smaller than usual. Thanks to Nick and Honor for backing my original song set. I was lucky and drew number 5 to play. As usual the regulars showed up en masse and played some great tunes. I really enjoy Nick and Nick, the hell bent for leather enthusiasm is both fun to watch and contagious. My favorite band is Black Dog Brother, Dan Mcginn's band. They played last, right before midnight. Lucy and I danced to their original tunes. I try to be mostly positive in my reviews but when I see something below par, I have to mention it, otherwise it's not a real review. The featured act was a black hole of time consumption in an otherwise fun evening. It wasn't so much the "music' they played, it was how much time was burned setting it up. It took as much time to set up as they spent "playing". Six people making random noise should never be a featured act. I had to leave because it was pure torture to my ears. I don't like featured acts much in general at open mikes, because I love the variety of six or seven acts per hour. If someone is not super talented, they are only up there for 10 minutes. Featured acts should be ready to play inside of five minutes of hitting the stage. Any regular open mike act should take no more than a minute or two to set up, otherwise they should go get a paying gig somewhere. That said, Gulu-Gulu was just a "barrel full of monkeys" fun! Still highly recommended since featured acts only happen once a month. The last two previous featured artists were very entertaining, kudos to Pastore Phil and Dave and Glenn French's act. They had it going on!
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 Dave Kraft (12/2012)

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