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 mayor’s assistant told us not to play any klezmer music — “nothing ethnic,” she said.  Just American.

No klezmer?  Why did the mayor hire Yiddishe Cup for the city’s summer concert series?

Our contract rider stipulated a fruit platter, bottled water and diet colas. A good gig, food-wise. But what were we going to play?

I said, “You don’t want to alienate anybody with ethnic music?”

“Exactly,” she said. “That’s the mayor’s thought.”

“How much non-ethnic music do you want?”

“All or mostly.”

“Can you give me a percentage?”

“Ninety percent American music,” she said.

Yiddishe Cup played “Dock of the Bay,” some Motown, Beatles, “Hang on Sloopy” and “Old Time Rock And Roll.” A Chinese woman liked “My Girl” so much we played it twice.

no yid stuff

I told the crowd Yiddishe Cup started out as a deli on Kinsman Road, then moved to Cedar Center, and ultimately wound up on the far East Side. I  kept up that quirky patter throughout because “My Girl,” the second time through, wasn’t doing it for me.  A city councilman asked where Yiddishe Cup had been at Cedar Center. I didn’t answer because I didn’t know. I should have said, “Between Abbey’s and Solomon’s.”  Or maybe “We were in back of Harvey’s Backroom.”

We snuck in “Miserlou” — a Greek tune.  We did a Macedonian tune.  We did an Israeli tune (!)  And for some reason, “Hawaii Five-0.”


1 IN 25

When I went to the solidarity-with-Israel rally in Cleveland last week, I figured I would know 1-in-10 people. I knew 1-in-30, at most.

There were 2,800 people. That was a letdown — not the 2,800, but I didn’t know more of them. I knew many of the cantors, rabbis and Federation speakers but I didn’t know many of the rank-and-file yehudim.

I know one person in this photo and recoognize a couple faces. Israel rally, Cleveland, 7/22/14

I knew one person in this photo.
  (Cleveland, 7/22/14)

Shouldn’t I — after 25 years with Yiddishe Cup — be more plugged in than 1-in-30?

There were Christian groups from far off places (Aurora, Westlake), so maybe I’m more like 1-in-25 (with lantsmen).

Give me 1-in-25.

Yiddishe Cup plays 7 p.m. Thurs., Aug. 7, at John Carroll University as part of the City of University Heights (Ohio) Summer Concert Series.

Alice Stratton and Daniel Ducoff at 2012 Univ. Hts. summer concert.  (Photo by Jim Olexa).

Alice Stratton and Daniel Ducoff at the 2012 Univ. Hts. summer concert. (Photo by Jim Olexa)

The concert is on the lawn in front of the Grasselli Library on the quad. Park in the college lot across from Pizzazz restaurant and bring a blanket or chair. If raining, the concert is in the Dolan Science Center. Free. (We always deliver a top-notch kosher-for-Pesach klezmer  show for University Heights.)

Guest vocalist Shawn Fink will sing “Joe and Paul’s,” a 1940s comedy classic, and the band will do its original “Warrensville and Cedar Road,” about TJ Maxx, Bob Evans and Target.

shareEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter


1 Ken G. { 07.30.14 at 10:13 am }

Is that photo showing some sort of Polynesian ritual? How did you know the woman was “Chinese”? Motown IS ethnic!

Was this “mayor’s assistant” with the current administration? I don’t trust Infeld after she tried to get away with that park planning without the proper authorization. Her name is suspicious, too.

The ice cream that made it a so-called “ice cream social” last year was so poorly handled; did they give up the ice-cream-at-concert idea this year?

That science building sacrificed the campus “quad” – I think it’s too controversial a building for you to perform in – you might get a bad rep.

So you’re headquartered now in the far eastern suburbs? Hmm…. I’m glad you started on Kinsman, though. How about the Haymarket District, for starters? Or a boat coming to Ellis Island?

2 Bert Stratton { 07.30.14 at 10:20 am }

To Ken G:

For the record, the blog post has nothing to do with University Heights. It was a different suburb.

Sorry, no ice cream this year at the Yiddishe Cup / Univ Hts concert. Stop by Ben & Jerry’s prior and splurge; you’ll have money in your pocket because the 8/7 Univ. Hts. concert is free.

3 don friedman { 07.30.14 at 12:25 pm }

That’s probably the worst drawings of the band I have ever seen! An invisible drummer! I have never seen one before!

4 Ken G. { 07.30.14 at 1:27 pm }

Bert – if you got paid less they might have some $ leftover to serve ice cream, even if they don’t know how to do it properly and the portions are too dainty.

5 Kathy H. { 07.30.14 at 2:46 pm }

A true story? No “ethnic music”? A klezmer band that can’t play klezmer? Why didn’t the mayor’s aide just say no dancing, no smiling, no joy allowed? Has Cleveland lost its mind?

6 Bert Stratton { 07.30.14 at 4:06 pm }

To Kathy H.:

Yes, it’s a true story. (I label my untrue stories most of the time!)

Background: The city originally hired us for a klez night but then switched us to general-duty for a “fireworks night.”

7 Seth { 07.30.14 at 5:15 pm }

In the old days, when I went to rallies they were mostly anti-war and when I saw someone taking pictures of the crowd, it made me very suspicious of who they were. I hope you had your YC or Press shirt on. There probably was someone taking a picture of you taking your picture, ad infinitum, er, ad 2800

8 Bert Stratton { 07.30.14 at 5:30 pm }

To Seth:

I’m not a big picture-taker. I got the pic from the Cleveland Jewish Federation Facebook page.

Leave a Comment