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 Irish rank musicians with fiddle contests.  So do bluegrass players.  There is now even a $50,000 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.

Jews established rankings at the Safed (Israel) Klezmer Festival, then stopped for some reason.  Former Klezmatics violinist Alicia Svigals won first prize.  This was more than a decade ago.

Nowadays the Jewish plucking order is out of order.  Is one’s Jewish music ranking determined by where one sits at klezmer conventions?  If you eat with the students, does that mean you’re amhoretz? (commoner/person of the earth).  If you sit with the German long-hairs, are you going on tour in Europe soon?  If you’re dining with the dentists, doctors and conference board members, do you have ulterior — biz! — motives?

At KlezKanada, one staff instructor kvetched she wasn’t paid enough for the walk-by consultations from the amhoretz in the dining hall — students asking for musical pointers and xeroxes of transcribed music.

I knew about that — pestering the staff.  I bothered virtuoso clarinetist and teacher Kurt Bjorling at KlezKamp on Christmas morning.  He was assembling a model train on his hotel room floor.  I asked about krechts (klezmer groan/sob) technique.  I wanted to be the klezmer king.  The Christian king’s birthday could wait a few minutes.


I am a klezmer king now.  (One of a few. I make the rankings.)

Here are the latest King of Klezmer rankings from The Challah Fame, Cleveland.  The ratings change daily, except Saturday.

#1.  Martin van de Ven.  Clarinet.  Canada.  Van Da Man.

#2.  Alan Douglass.  Keyboards.  Ohio.  His smash hit was “Gentile on My Mind”, 2004. [Listen.]

#3.  Ari Davidow.  Klez cyberczar.  Massachusetts.  Operates the KlezmerShack in the basement of the Brandeis student union by the Foosball tables.

#4.  Steven Greenman.  Violin.  Ohio.  Born Steven Chemlawn.

#5.  Annette Ezekiel Kogan.  Accordion.  New York.   Her name is longer than her skirt.  She donates letters from her skirt while playing.


#6.  Michael Alpert.  Violin/mustache. New York.

#7.  Gary Gould.  Clarinet.  California.  Bandleader to the stars’ sons’ bar mitzvah parties near, but not in, Santa Monica.

#8.  Cookie Segelstein.  Violin.  California.  Rugelach Queen.

#9.  Christian Dawid.  Clarinet.  Germany. In the States, Christian says, “Call me Dave.”

#10.  Cookie Lavagetto.  Third base.  Washington Senators.

#11.  Bert Stratton.  Clarinet.  Ohio.   Klez merch mogul.  Worldwide distributer of Yiddishe Cup mugs, baseball caps and T-shirts.

#12.  Margot Leverett.  Clarinet picker.  New York.  Former Miss Jewish Indiana.

#13.  Lori Cahan-Simon.  Vocals.  Ohio.  Produced Der Yiddisher Soul Train, KYW-TV, Philadelphia, 1967-1971.

#14.  Marc Adler.  Clarinet.  Rhode Island.  Invented the clarinet suck vac, available only at Adler’s Hardware, Providence, R.I.

#15.  Yale Strom.  Violin.  California.  Born University of Pennsylvania Strom.


1 of 2 posts for 10/6/10.  Please see the post below too.

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1 Harvey { 10.06.10 at 9:49 am }

Suspicious that you’ve waited until now to blog your rankings. Had you published these two months ago, #5 never would have gotten through her Senate confirmation hearing.

2 MARC { 10.06.10 at 2:15 pm }

I’m so flattered to be on the list. This definitely goes on my resume. Not to mention LOL. But seriously I could have used that clarinet sucker Monday night.

Ever have that problem with saliva on the G-sharp key? When it happens in the middle of a song, there’s not much you can do except skip that note.

But you know it’s a great idea. I sell Dyson vacs and you could definitely run a hose to the clarinet and quickly suck out the saliva.

Definitely worth a long distance call to Mr. Dyson in England.

3 Ellen { 10.06.10 at 11:17 pm }

Do we have to talk about clarinet saliva here, gentlemen? Klezmer is magic — don’t break the spell!

4 zach { 10.07.10 at 6:00 pm }

This post begs a Fantasy Klezmorim game.

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