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 is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

THE MIDWEST’S TOP 10 KLEZMER
. . . TOWNS

My nephew visits Big League baseball stadiums around the country as a hobby.

I visit Big League klezmer towns in the Midwest as a hobby. My remarks (below) are challah-to-challah comparisons.  I’m not comparing Milwaukee to Paris.

The best Midwest klezmer towns:

1. Pittsburgh . . .  Squirrel Hill, Shadyside. Everything you need. (Pittsburgh is not in the Midwest, but so what.  It is west of the Alleghenies.)

Hebrew clock. Pittsburgh JCC

Hebrew clock. Pittsburgh JCC

2. Chicago. The Midwest klez capital. Maxwell Street Klezmer Band is the band in the Midwest. A Cleveland boy — a Northwestern student — worked in the Maxwell Street office; I had that kid wired. Yes, a klez band with office help. Chi is that big. Powerful klezmer forces prevail in Chi. Max Street does not allow Ohio bands within 80 miles of The Loop.  Yiddishe Cup played Rockford, Ill., once.

3. Detroit. West Bloomfield, a Motown suburb, has Temple Israel, a very attractive modern temple. There is such a thing.  At concerts, the Temple Israel ark is curtained off by a striking yarmulke mandala.

Yiddishe Cup at Temple Israel, 2010

Yiddishe Cup at Temple Israel, 2010

4. Kansas City — as marvelously tough as Cleveland. KC’s Country Club Plaza is like Shaker Square but bigger and older.

5. St. Louis. Yiddishe Cup played there twice, then it all died out — the gigs. My Cleveland rabbi, who is from St. Louis, has a couple seats from the old Busch stadium. He should install the seats on our shul’s bima (altar) and invite Enos  Slaughter to give the d’var torah (torah lesson/sermon). Good custard — Ted Drewes — in St. Louis.  Similar to Cleveland’s East Coast Original Frozen Custard.

6. Milwaukee. Its claim to fame: songwriter Sigmund Snopek III, who wrote “Thank God This isn’t Cleveland.”

7. Minneapolis. There are a lot of klez bands up there: Prairie Heym Klezmorim, Klezmerica, etc. Too much klez in Minnie.  Yiddishe Cup will never play there.

8. Cincinnati. The Plum Street Temple, where Stephen Wise officiated, is the most rakish and Moorish synagogue in the country. Check it out.

Plum Street Temple

Plum Street Temple

9. Buffalo. Terrific art museum. Underrated.

10. Indianapolis. Overrated. A suburb of Atlanta.

Cleveland isn’t ranked. That wouldn’t be fair. But off the record, Cleveland is number one.

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5 comments

1 Lori Lippitz { 11.03.10 at 9:29 am }

Hey, we’d love to be able to see you in town [Chicago]! It’s not so much a turf war as a coals-to-Newcastle deal: the local venues that present klezmer have their East Coast bands or bring in the locals. Good luck breaking in–we’d love to hear ya!

2 "Kenny G" { 11.03.10 at 10:16 am }

I’m looking at this on the bus, but at first glance I must say Buffalo is no more Midwest than Pittsburgh (though, architecturally, much of New York state west of around Schnectady is kinda Midwest – post-Colonial areas).

Also, btw Sonny, I don’t care what you majored in in college; one only uses “oldest” with more than two. You have only two sons – get it? I think we’ve known each other long enough for me to feel I can get away with saying this….

3 Alice { 11.03.10 at 8:22 pm }

Something looks different about the blog. How about a contest to see who can guess what’s different?

4 Blanche { 11.04.10 at 11:50 am }

By the way, did you know that Maxwell Street eventually laid off the Cleveland kid who was doing office work?! The power of the market…!

5 adam { 01.03.11 at 12:43 pm }

if you want to come to chicago…

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