Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz too. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.



The klezmer revival peaked 1996 to 2001. Back then Yiddishe Cup was moving CDs faster than tea bags at a cantors’ convention.  Itzhak Perlman was on TV.  He did a PBS show called “In the Fiddler’s House.”  That started it all, late 1995.  My band drove down to Columbus, Ohio, to catch the live show: Perlman, Statman, Brave Old World, the Klezmatics and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.  That hall was crowded.

That passed.

The good news is klez didn’t die.  It flat-lined into part of the culture.  Klez is now like challah and grape juice.  There.  I don’t have to explain “klezmer” to Yidn any more.  Just to Amish.

Every major town has a klez band. Yiddishe Cup is a “territory” band, to use jazz terminology.  Nobody messes with The Cup in the Midwest.  You go west to Chicago, Maxwell Street takes over.  (We haven’t played Chicago.  Maxwell Street has played Cleveland.  What’s with that?)

I thought Meshugeneh Mambo, the album, might make Yiddishe Cup the Next Big Thing.  Break out.

However,  our target audience for Meshugeneh Mambo, Jews, didn’t go for the funny songs as much as the straight-ahead instrumental klez.  After concerts, CD buyers gravitated toward our first album, the one with all the classic klezmer and Yiddish hits, like “Romania” and “Tumbalalaika.”

“Nudnik the Flying Shisl” (Pest the Flying Saucer) from Meshugeneh Mambo?  Forget it.

We do an album every few years. Our new one, Klezmer Guy, is mostly live.  My keyboard player wanted to stamp “live” on the cover.  So what if it’s live?  Picture this: A 75-year-old Jewish man says to his wife, “Gevalt (great glory), Hinda,  Yiddishe Cup’s live album just dropped. Let’s buy two.”

We recorded the album in a house — excuse me, studio — and laid down the live tracks at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the John S. Knight Convention Center at First Night Akron (Ohio).

We always expect to go platinum. That’s the thrill of the arts: all that striving and hope.  We’ll go tin at least.

At festivals Yiddishe Cup has opened for War, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Los Lobos,  the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Jon Hendricks.  Those guys will open for us next time.
2 of 2 posts for 7/29/09

shareEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

1 comment

1 bill jones { 07.29.09 at 9:44 am }

I’d recommend we put you in for a Grammy like the Klezmatics did — and won. But I bet you cannot mention the album/CD title of theirs that did win. Keep up the YouTube videos and get on Twitter with “Tweets.” (I personally like Twits better for its punny flavor.) That way you’ve got the current airwaves covered, and some day some one will do a documentary about you, like “Molly Goldberg” maybe, coming to a Jewish Community Center near you on October 18, 2009. And may you get a portion of the film’s revenues from Google advertising on your site. After all, by then the movie theaters will be gone, and we’ll all be looking at the films on the latest version of the tube you’re looking at now. Tin, schmin. Plastics, that is where it is going.

Leave a Comment