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 the house band at the Lake County (Ohio) Heritage Festival.  We play there every July.  Twenty years in a row.

Why don’t the organizers get somebody else?

Because we talk.  Bluegrass bands and old-time musicians don’t talk.  They just pick.  Folk musicians, they’ll talk, but it’s pabulum about trees and trysts.  Polka guys, they talk — to each other.  And they mumble.

Lake County, just east of Cleveland, is a stronghold of Italians and Slovenians.  Many are retired railroad and factory workers.  They like to hear “Eaton Axle,” “Fisher Body,” and “Collinwood Railroad Yards.”

Those aren’t songs.  They’re just words, and I like to say them. For instance, I’ll say, “Who remembers the Collinwood Yards on East One-hundred Fifty-second?”  There are a couple klezmer train songs.  There’s a hit from Russia: “7:40.”

We do “Gino,” an Orthodox Jewish tune with an Italian-sounding name.  We also do “That’s Morris,” a parody of “That’s Amore.” We introduce it with: “This is by that great Ohio Jewish composer Dean Martin.  His name in Hebrew means ‘flying tiny octopus.'”

You have to be there.

The Slovenians like to hear “Slovenian” pronounced properly: Slovene-yun, not Slovene-ian.

I explain Hebrew is loshn kodesh, the holy tongue, like Latin. Yiddish by contrast is mama-loshn, the mother tongue.  “Mama Lotion. You can buy it at CVS.”

You have to be there.

2 of 2 posts for 7/21/10


Sun. (July 25):  Yiddishe Cup is at the Lake County Heritage Festival, formerly the Little Mountain Folk Festival.  Painesville, Ohio. $.  Final revised schedule: Yiddishe Cup is on at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Thurs., July 29:  “Driving Mr. Klezmer” duo show at Cain Park, Cleveland Hts., 7 p.m.   $20 in advance, $23 at the door. $2 off for 60+ and students.  216-371-3000 or  If you miss this show, your last words might be “I really screwed up.”

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1 Steven Greenman { 07.21.10 at 11:26 am }

“Mama Lotion” joke done too often by everybody. I like better when you’re snarky with your humor. But anyway, love the blog as usual.

2 Bert { 07.21.10 at 12:06 pm }

To Steven Greenman:

You’re right about the “Mama Lotion” joke being hackneyed, at least among klezmer scene cognoscenti.

I stole the expression from Kapelye’s radio show album, On the Air. That recording has a fake commercial for Mama Lotion.

3 zach { 07.22.10 at 12:42 am }

I visited Cleveland for the first time this week… I’m currently in Detroit, going through Ann Arbor tomorrow on my way to Grand Rapids. Going on a brewery tour through the Midwest.

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