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.



Not all musicians have gigs on New Year’s Eve.

A lot of would-be partiers stay home for a quiet evening, or they go to the movies. There aren’t that many gigs.  The era of the fraternal organization New Year’s Eve dinner dance is long gone.

Sometimes people eat special New Year’s Eve foods.  I know a family that eats lobster.  My family eats oatmeal on New Year’s Eve.  We learned that habit in Akron, Ohio.

first-night1Yiddishe Cup had a gig at First Night Akron for 12 years in a row, and occasionally my family stayed overnight at the Quaker Square hotel, which was in a remodeled Quaker Oats grain silo.  The hotel’s New Year’s Eve dish was oatmeal, served at midnight.

Yiddishe Cup didn’t play First Night Akron last year.  The event coordinator called and said, “We’re reducing our footprint.”

My wife, Alice, plus a Yiddishe Cup musician and his wife, made a small dinner and then we went to the movies.  Not memorable, except for the oatmeal.

Klezmer musicians around the country lamented the downsizing of First Nights. This kvetching started a couple years ago on a Jewish-music listserv. First Nights had been the rage in the 1990s but had become part of the scenery.  (Similar to klezmer music’s popularity arc.)  In the 1990s, the director of First Night Akron told me she had just been to a national First Night conference in Boston and the word was “get a klezmer band.”

Yiddishe Cup worked up to playing First Night Akron. We played Warren, Ohio, First Night a couple times prior.  (A good event.)

Last year I checked out First Night Akron’s program online. I looked to see if another klezmer band was playing. There was a Beatles tribute band, a blues band and a couple generic American acts.   That was gratifying.

Yiddishe Cup is back at First Night Akron this year.  “Raisins and Oatmeal.”  That will be our opening song. No, it won’t. The tune doesn’t exist. We’ll open with
“Shalom Aleichem” — the version made popular by  Shmuel Brazil and Regesh.

Yiddishe Cup plays First Night Akron this Friday., 7:30 p.m.
Sports fans, please see the post below too.

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1 "Kenny G" { 12.29.10 at 5:19 pm }

I’ve followed Quaker Square ever since it was a few businesses in 1975 or so. Many, many times we went there — trips to Akron, trips coming back from visiting friends in Canton, coming back from visiting our friend in Brewster, etc. Many a Sat. or Sun. evening.

Sometimes it was really swinging – even on a Sunday evening! The place got better and better over a number of years — one, then two, then three floors of shopping. Many, many areas of exhibits and special features. I recall when the Hilton opened and occasionally we ate there (several restaurants).

Then basically it all went down, down. They tried a lot of things but in the end not much left. If you ever want to see a few items I’ve saved from QS’s past, I’d be glad to show them — e.g., newspapers showing floor plans with all shops and restaurants.

It [QS] was all really different for Akron – good, sometimes upscale and trendy retail downtown, much interest in local history, etc. A shame!

How on earth did the restaurant serve the oatmeal? I make a pretty good oatmeal, actually, and it’s from the instant, yet.

Reminds me of when Park Synagogue announced they were having a big cholent event for the after-service kiddish. This was the period we were at Beth Am, but we went. Women dished out cholent into paper bowls from huge kettles. It just was all so out of character. Just not that appealing.

2 Bert { 12.29.10 at 6:05 pm }

To “Kenny G”:

The oatmeal was not instant. Please-e!

There was a restaurant in the silo. It was open at midnight. The whole dining experience was a major deal for my then-young kids.

Also, it was fun staying in a hotel room that didn’t have right angles.

3 Jwedes { 01.13.11 at 9:49 am }

Bert- who is doing your illustrations? They’re yofi! [Great!]

4 Bert { 01.13.11 at 10:18 am }

Ralph Solonitz does the illustrations.

He also designed the Yiddishe Cup logo a million years ago.

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