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.

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 Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



When the mother of the bride says you’re on for the wedding, you’re not always on.  The bride, not the mother, makes all final decisions.  The bride can — and will — override Mom.

I once negotiated a Thanksgiving Day wedding.   The mom thought Thanksgiving would be the perfect wedding day, because nobody would come.  The groom’s side was from New York, so flights to Cleveland would be expensive.  Terrific.  And the locals would pass on the wedding to eat Thanksgiving dinner at home with their kids, who wouldn’t be invited to the wedding.  Also, terrific.

I listened to this for three phone calls.

Then the mom hired Yiddishe Cup.


The band members rescheduled their own Thanksgiving dinners.  Not an easy task.

t-day-wedding22121The mom called a fourth time and said the bride wanted a different band.  I didn’t even ask who.  I usually ask, but  I was so mad — mostly at myself because I had forgotten the rule “it’s all about the bride.”

[Exception: A mom booked us for a Cleveland wedding, and the bride — from Seattle — ran up to the bandstand and said, “I hate klezmer music!  How could my mother do this to me!”]

After Ms. Thanksgiving Turkey hung up, I called a second client — a bat mitzvah mom — who was late with her contract and deposit.

She said she wanted to talk more.  I had already talked to her several times.  I said, “Yiddishe Cup has been around over twenty years.  You’ve seen us.  Everybody has seen us.  You know what we’re all about.”

She said her husband was sick.

Pause.  Sick in the band biz means very ill.  It sometimes means dying.  I’ve played simchas (celebrations) for sick people; these affairs are the most poignant.   I’ve seen dads roll down the aisle in wheelchairs.  Dads who couldn’t talk because of strokes.  Guys with half a brain left.

Yiddishe Cup has played for dead people; we played a bat mitzvah luncheon where the bat mitzvah girl’s mom died the day before.  The funeral was the next day.  We played in the family room instead of at the party center.  Two or three people tried a hora.

The woman with the sick husband came to my house to further discuss the bat mitzvah.  I asked what her husband’s illness was.  She said he was depressed.   Her husband — a doctor — had lost a patient that week.

He wasn’t sick!  Doctors lose patients all the time!  She just wanted to change the date, the number of musicians, and a few other things.   Which she did.

The gig — on a new date, with fewer musicians — was surprisingly fun.  Everybody was upbeat, and nobody bugged the band, except the good-natured grandfather, who said to our pianist, “Do you know your fly is down.”

Our pianist, not missing a beat, answered, “No, can you hum a few bars?”

Nobody was sick.  That was something to be thankful for.

Please see the post below too.  It’s fresh.

Yiddishe Cup plays Columbus, Ohio, 6 p.m. Sun., Dec. 5.  Chanukah.  Please contact Tifereth Israel Congregation for details.

Illustration by Ralph Solonitz.

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1 Ellen { 11.24.10 at 9:58 am }

Hope you all are having a great dinner this year and not playing a turkey wedding. And Columbus? I might almost make it — when will you actually start playing?

2 Bert { 11.24.10 at 10:15 am }

To Ellen:

The show in Columbus is this: Yiddishe Cup plays background music ( i.e. klezmer-achi stuff) 6 – 7:15 p.m., while people eat and play games. Then we do a one-hour dance/concert 7:15-8:15 p.m.

If you show up, you will become Yiddishe Cup’s number one fan. That slot is currently held by Lea Grossman. But since Lea moved to New Jersey from Michigan, she hasn’t been to too many Yiddishe Cup gigs.

3 Irwin { 11.24.10 at 10:25 am }

Funny story, Bert. I like the illustration as well. Ralph Solonitz brings some artistic humor to your blog. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

4 diddle { 11.24.10 at 11:26 am }

diggin the illus

5 Jane L. { 11.24.10 at 1:09 pm }

Oy vey. What a business you’re in. I really love the part about the mother who wanted a Thanksgiving wedding so that fewer guests would come. We’ve all been there (counting heads for an expensive dinner gig), but who in the world actually acts on this premise. Priceless!

6 Ellen { 11.24.10 at 11:39 pm }

wow. number one fan? does that come with a set of steak knives? (I, uh, don’t eat steak….)

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