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.



Great Yiddishe Cup non-gigs:

The Shrine to American Music, Vermillion, North Dakota
New York Mills (Minn.) Regional Cultural Center
Southern Cross International Music Festival, Brisbane, Australia
Austin (Tex.) JCC, Israel Independence Day celebration
Klezmer Festival, Fuerth, Germany
Jewish Music Festival, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

All of them were close calls.

Maybe we came in second.

Second stinks.  For example, when 30 clarinetists audition for the Kansas City Symphony, 29 clarinetists get to add “finalist” to their resumes.

Australia . . . That would have looked good in our obits.

Nobody — anywhere — does what Yiddishe Cup does: play wacky klezmer comedy.

We get around.  We’ve  been to Texas three times, Florida four times, Missouri nine times.

We’ve played abroad twice. The first time was New York City. That’s a foreign country.  The Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts.  The Jews in New York understood our Catskills parodies better than we did.

The second time abroad . . . Windsor, Canada.   (Quiz:  What foreign country would you reach first if you drove due south from Detroit?  The answer: Canada.  Windsor is south of Detroit.)

For our Australian non-gig, I dealt with a contemporary composer/professor, Ralph.  His children knew most of Yiddishe Cup’s funny lyrics.

I wondered if Yiddishe Cup’s synthesizer would work with the electrical system in Australia.  And should I purchase the airplane tickets, or have Ralph do it?  He might route us through Greenland.  The bigger question:  Would Ralph’s university have the money to bring us over?

Ralph didn’t have the money.

Chanukah in Jackson Hole, WY. That was the subject line of an email I recently got. I almost spammed it.

In the email’s text, a Wyoming rabbi asked Yiddishe Cup about doing a three-day Chanukah bash at three ski hotels.  I immediately called the rabbi, gave him a fair price, and he didn’t hang up.  In fact, he was enthusiastic.

I told the Yiddishe Cup musicians the Wyoming gig was 49 percent likely.

Our singer said, “Forty-nine percent?  That means you think it’s not going to happen.”


Forty-nine percent is the street corner where optimism meets realism.

We didn’t get the gig. The rabbi hired another band, he wrote me.  I wonder who.

I just Googled the Wyoming event . . .

. . . The Ruby Harris band.  I’ve vaguely heard of Ruby Harris.  I think Ruby is a singer from San Francisco.

I understand. A California band is cheaper to fly to Wyoming than a Cleveland band.

News flash: Ruby is a guy — a violinist from the Midwest!  I went to his Web site.  Chicago.  That’s around the block from Cleveland!  Why him and not us?  He plays klez and blues.  So do we!  “Yiddishe Blues” is a tune on our latest album.

Check out the black diamond ski trails, Ruby.

Break a leg.

. . . Deep breath. Rewrite:

Happy Chanukah.
1 of 2 posts for 12/9/09.  Please see the post below too.

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1 Teddy { 12.09.09 at 8:42 am }

The klezmer business is cutthroat, man.

Windsor is all right; they have a nice law library at the University of Windsor. I studied up there a few days ago. Got some Chinese food and Tim Horton’s — it was very productive.

2 Gerald Ross { 12.09.09 at 10:25 am }

Windsor south of Detroit? So that explains the accent.

3 Steven Greenman { 12.09.09 at 11:20 am }

Ruby Harris is big with the Orthodox crowd, and I he think was hired several times by Barry Cik in Cleveland, and others of that crowd in NY. He does more jazz and plays electric violin.

Maybe he also gave a better price? If the rabbi was Orthodox, then that may have sealed the deal for Ruby.

When will you let go of Fuerth? I guess I shouldn’t rip you for this. I’ve been to Fuerth three times, but only once to Missouri. You have me beat there.

When you get Lichtenstein, then we’re even. (I played there once with Budowitz.) The country is so small that as we drove across Austria, the first sign post said “Welcome to Lichtenstein” and the second sign post said “Thanks for Coming to Lichtenstein.” I think the whole county is a mile or two long, tops.

4 Shawn Fink { 12.11.09 at 10:06 am }

Ruby Harris was fiddle player for the legendary Diaspora Yeshiva Band, a group of previously secular musicians from the States who met at the aforementioned Yeshiva in Israel and formed a band.

In the mid 70’s, DYB was the first group to take American-sounding rock and country/western (which they dubbed “country-eastern”) melodies and meld them with Jewish lyrics in Hebrew and English. Their albums went gold in Israel. Their live shows were incredible, and in the US they were huge draws.

Many of their tunes have passed into the public domain in the same way Carlebach’s have. They were the primary influence on nearly every Orthodox band that has come along since.

So at least if you’re going to lose out on a gig, it’s to a living legend in the biz.

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