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.



Yiddishe Cup is not a klezmer band.  Our recordings — and our stage shows — are dark and light, funny and serious.  Check us out.  We stretch out.  Every tune is different.

Klezmer is a clichéd marketing term, and we aren’t a party to it.

We aren’t even Jewish.  I’m not.  I gave it up for Lent.

Y Cup — formerly Yiddishe Cup, formerly Yiddishe Cup Klezmer Band — fits perfectly into the world music/jazz scene.

I admire musicians who, when you hear their recordings, you immediately know who is playing.  Like “Hey, that’s Arnie!”  You know it’s Arnie by the hogs snorting in the background.

Y Cup has a new signature piece: “Mayor of West 83rd Street.”  You can smell natural gas when the tune starts.  Y Cup is a band with a very, very volatile — and totally unique — sound: intricate arrangements and constant shiftings of the lead.  We bring out different colors, different dynamics, different brews.  At a six-hour wedding, an open bar is imperative.

We write so many tunes, we can’t even name them. We gave up trying. Our newest tunes are 10-56, 10-57, 10-58.  Then ’10’ stands for 2010.

Our album in progress is titled No Name, but that is so lame.  Maybe we’ll call it 10-10-10 and release it that day.  October 10 is going to be a huge wedding date.  If we don’t have a gig that day, we’ll disband and call the album Thank You for Your Kindnesses.

Y Cup is not a star show. It’s not about one musician standing above.  The rest of the band — the sidemen — I could replace them with one quick phone call — and I’d probably have a better group too — but I don’t.  The whole is less than the sum of the parts.  Add it up.

My musicians have skills.  One guy can belch whole notes.  Doesn’t feel academic either.

Non-Jews love our music.  Non-Christians too . . . Jewish people.

When I told my wife I was leaving Judaism, she said, “Then why are you saying a brocha over the wine?”  I told her, “It’s Friday night, that’s why.  TGIF.”

Klezmer is a niche I refuse to get boxed into.

We used to do klezmer, I’ll admit.  We played it on occasion.  Even Charlie Parker played klezmer at bar mitzvahs.  In his later days he didn’t.  Granted, he died at 34.

Y Cup plays what Parker would if he were playing bar mitzvahs today. That’s our esthetic.

1 of 2 posts for 3/3/10.  Please see the next post too.

Readers’ advisory:  This post, “Our Esthetic: We are not a Klezmer Band,” is fiction.   Made up. 

See “Driving Mr. Klezmer” at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Beachwood, Ohio, Wed. March 24, 7 p.m.  Stratton, clarinet and spoken word (i.e. this blog), and Douglass, chauffeur and fuel-injected keyboards, plus vocals.  Jewish and American music.  DUO.

Yiddishe Cup at the College of Wooster (Ohio).  Sat. March 27, 9 p.m.
Yiddishe Cup / Klezmer Guy has a  Facebook fan page.

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1 Bill Jones { 03.03.10 at 9:55 am }

Since you’re embracing the less-is-more theory, in terms of the band’s name, you might want to simply drop the “Y” and translate “Cup” to “Kup” [Yiddish for head]?

The “Head” Band, or more exactly “Jewish Head” Band, is certainly contemporary.

And it lends itself to endless questions on what is a “Jewish Head” Band; tefillin, maybe. Oops, you’d lose your base if you did, I assume.


As far as not heating your gutters against icicles, if your gutter doesn’t come down or the water doesn’t back up into your outer walls, then your posture is correct.

However, do like most commercial buildings do in the farther north — farther north than Cleveland, that is — and post signs saying: Danger, falling ice and snow. That cuts out some of the potential lawsuits, since literate people were warned.

You ever been hit with a mini-avalanche off a building?


Good luck with resigning from what I take it to be organized Judaism. (Besides, you’ll lose one of your regular customers.)

2 Alan Douglass { 03.03.10 at 1:47 pm }

Am I in this band?

3 Teddy { 03.04.10 at 1:01 am }

You have to stop doing this tongue-in-cheek stuff. People are confused. Submit it to the Kenyon Review.

4 Bert { 03.04.10 at 8:13 am }

To Teddy:

I’m going to put a “readers’ advisory” note on the end of this post. Fiction alert.

The piece is a satiric riff on bandleader interviews on

Maybe I should submit this post, “Our Esthetic: We are not a Klezmer Band,” to the Kenyon Review. I have an in. Yiddishe Cup played the editor’s son’s bar mitzvah party.

5 Steven Greenman { 04.07.10 at 7:08 pm }

Y Cup? Really? My sense is the band is just not hip enough for a name like that. You’re good but you need at least one black guy in the group for a name like that. The only guy who can pull something like that off that is white would be Dolgin.

Would you be offended if I changing my band name to Stempenyu’s Cup? Sounds like a coffee commercial.

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