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.



A banda clarinetist in Sinaloa, Mexico, lent me his axe. I played horribly because of that clarinet’s craggy reed; I’ve seen better reeds in a fourth grader’s case. I played a Meron/Israeli nign (wordless melody). The Mexican listeners clapped. They could have whistled.

That was my sole south-of-the-border performance. (My family was on a hiking trip in northern Mexico, where we stumbled upon a horse auction with oompah banda.)

A Cleveland woman announced her Central American wedding — a Jewish ceremony in San Salvador.  I told the bride’s mother to hire Yiddishe Cup.  “I’m sure the groom’s family can afford it,” I said, “or they wouldn’t still be down there.”  The mom agreed to the “afford it” part, but not the band.  The mom burned a CD of horas from my wife’s collection and took that.

Yiddishe Cup plays Latin music fairly well. We have cornered the Latin Jewish doctor market in Cleveland — a market that fits comfortably into the backseat of a Camry.  We did a gig for a Mexican Jewish doctor who headed the Cleveland Clinic evil eye center (Cole Eye Institute).  That was one salsa-dik party.  Latin Jews party second only to Russian Jews.

We played a Cleveland Ecuadorian wedding where I explained the chair-lifting tradition to the groom’s gentile parents.  I said in Spanish: “You will see people seated in chairs in the wind.”


In Dallas, when Yiddishe Cup musicians visited the grassy knoll,  I stopped at the neighborhood taco shop to update myself on Mexican drinks.

The taco shop had orange, carrot, horchata, mango, guava and Sidral apple drinks.  They also had bottled Mexican Coke. The clerk explained Mexican Coke is sweeter than American Coca-Cola.

Yiddishe Cup’s ultimate hip-spanic thrill was an outdoor concert in El Paso, Texas, where we played “La Bamba” for 2,500 predominately Mexican-American listeners.  For Jewish flavor we added Hebrew lyrics from Psalm 133 (“Hine Ma Tov” / Behold how good ).  We borrowed that idea from a Kansas City band, Guns ‘n’ Charoses.

From the bandstand, we could see the Rio Grande.   We played “Meshugeneh Mambo.”  We said gracias a lot.

So close to Latin America.

Cinco de Mayo.  Hoy. (Pronounced “oy.”)
1 of 2 posts for 5/5/10. See the next post too, please.

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1 comment

1 Ellen { 05.05.10 at 11:13 am }

That video is great — playing on the boardwalk…. Klezmer history–fascinating. I’m sure the band must have a big Cinco gig tonight — -hasta la bagels!

[The video link is at the end of the next blog post, “Down on the Corner.”]

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