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.


 
 

ORIGINS OF THE CHALLAH FAME

This is KlezFiction. The complete KlezFiction series is here.

Why is the Klezmer Hall of Fame — aka The Challah Fame — in Cleveland? Here’s why: Do you remember Bob Malaga, the lawyer who brought the Davis Cup to Cleveland in 1964?  Bob Malaga — aka Mr. Tennis — pulled off that Forest Hills-to-Cleveland heist almost single-handedly.

The Challah Fame story is a similar saga, but about another Cleveland monomaniac: Klezmer Guy, aka Mr. Guy.

Mr. Guy wrote record reviews for his college paper, the Michigan Daily, about Muddy Waters, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Mott the Hoople, and The Up.  He also wrote about Buddy Guy (no relation).  Mr. Guy had insights. For instance, he disliked Detroit rock and roll because it was simplistic and too loud. Guy lambasted John Lennon’s “Free John Sinclair” concert at the Michigan basketball arena in 1971.  Face it, Allen Ginsberg’s harmonium was not music.

John Sinclair and his friends at the White Panther Party were not happy with Guy’s review. Those potheads were fuming. What did they want?

Not the truth.

Guy left Ann Arbor in a hurry, returning to his hometown, Cleveland, to open a nightclub.  Cleveland was perfectly situated on the nightclub circuit, halfway between Chicago and New York.  Guy booked quality acts into his club, which he operated out of the basement of a shul on Taylor Road. Guy told the temple gadolim (big shots) he was running a Jewish music coffeehouse, and they were ecstatic.  The rent was free.

Guy rocked the gatkes (underwear) off the shul — Taylor Road Synagogue (TRS) — which was empty even back then.  The shul let Guy use the main sanctuary too.  “Use the sanctuary but keep it Jewish!” the TRS president said.

Guy booked the Electric Prunes, Steve Miller and Quicksilver.  All Jewish acts, according to Guy. Underground radio DJs bellowed, “Go see Steve Miller tonight at TRS!”

TRS’ sanctuary was packed.  So Guy said to himself, “I’m in a shul.  I’m making money.  Why not go for some authentic Jewish music?”  Guy locked onto klezmer.  Dave Tarras  sold out TRS, as did Mickey Katz.

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened, Guy rode the Rock Hall’s PR coattails and opened The Challah Fame.

Tarras statue (L) w/ a Challah Fame maintenance man

Guy displayed his personal memorabilia: a Corky & Lenny’s T-shirt, Park Synagogue refrigerator magnet and a saxophone reed signed by Hankus Netsky of the Klezmer Conservatory Band — “Love ya!  Hankus.”  Guy also had a flyer from Lethbridge, Alberta, 1966: Beatnik Coffeehouse Tonight / Tim Hortons / Michael Wex.  Guy had violinist Steven Greenman’s fourth grade report card (redacted).

Are you interested in this stuff?

Apparently you are.  You’ve read this far.

The Challah Fame keeps irregular hours. Please call ahead.

5 comments

1 Marc { 10.16.13 at 1:01 pm }

Do you want I should send you my clarinet swab?

2 Bert Stratton { 10.16.13 at 1:54 pm }

To Marc:

Yes, The Challah could use your swab, and you would get a hefty tax deduction.

3 Ken G. { 10.16.13 at 4:20 pm }

Are you sure it was TRS and not K’hal Yereim? I see a lot of black attire around that place – males, of course, and now females, too. That’s prime nightclub color. I’m sure the club owner is trying to attract blacks, too….

4 michael wex { 10.16.13 at 4:50 pm }

Delighted to see that my flyer is preserved in the Challah Fame. It was a great night, and the twenty-minute seating limit kept boredom at bay.

5 marc { 10.23.13 at 3:06 pm }

What should I tell the IRS the Marc Adler collectors item swab is worth?

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