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.



I like to proclaim “golden ages” as they happen. My record is 2-1.

Win: The klez revival. In 1998 I told my band: “This is the golden age of Yiddishe Cup. We’re getting gigs in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.” We flew to the U.P. via Minneapolis, then on to Calumet, Michigan, a mining town with an opera house.  Every town in America hired a klezmer band in the 1990s for its multicultural performing arts series.

Lose: I didn’t see the real estate crash of 2008-09.  A couple young guys wanted to buy my Riverview building in Lakewood, Ohio, in 2004, and I asked too much.  I wish they had bought it. I should have come down in price.

golden age  julia at fed eventWin The peak of Cleveland Jewry was 2000. The Jewish Federation would bring in entertainers like David “Dudu” Fisher and Mike Burstyn for galas. Burstyn and Fisher both charged at least $15,000.  I took my mother to see Burstyn.  She was in a wheelchair with Parkinson’s.  I wheeled her to the front of the room, where the machers were. Some of the “healthy old” looked kind of scared of my mom.  The Jewish Federation employees wore earpieces like FBI agents and worked crowd control; others Federation workers ran the wide-screen video and cued up speeches; and other workers told guests where to line up for dessert — the most important event. Fisher and Burstyn haven’t been back since.

We’re in the golden age of the Klezmer Guy blog now.  What other golden ages?  I don’t know.  You tell me. The golden age of golden-agers?  I’m playing a lot of nursing homes lately, specializing in 80th, 90th and 100th birthday parties, and the residents and nursing homes are looking very spiffy.  I hope those facilities — and the residents — look that good when I’m there.

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1 Gerald Ross { 10.01.14 at 9:11 am }

Definitely a golden-age for the ukulele. Seriously. It’s showing no sign of letting up. At the 2014 NAMM show (Music industry trade show) all the guitar companies were trying to get in on the boom. Uke festivals are popping up everywhere. The ukulele has been berry berry good to me.

2 Bert Stratton { 10.01.14 at 9:21 am }

To Gerald Ross:

Speaking of ukulele and old folks’ homes, Irwin (of Yiddishe Cup) and I did a gig last week at a retirement home where we asked trivia questions between tunes. Irwin asked, “How do you spell ‘ukulele’?”

One of the residents got it.

Another question: The Six-Day (Arab-Israeli) War started on June 5, 1967. When did it end? Nobody got that.

3 William Jones { 10.01.14 at 10:59 am }

First, klezmer musicians in senior care facilities, and now the NY Times reporting on chefs offering menus you’ve only seen in finer restaurants. Here’s hoping we can afford the facilities for ourselves, let alone the amenities

4 Dave Rowe { 10.04.14 at 9:46 pm }

As for golden ages, we can take a look at Rock and Roll – to me the prime years were the late 50’s – Elvis, Jerry Lee, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, though there’s something to be said for the mid-sixties – primo Stones and Beatles, don’t overlook the Animals or the Dave Clark Five. Nowadays to my knowledge there’s nothing – if Jane Scott were still around what would she find to write about?

5 Seth { 10.05.14 at 10:20 pm }

Its a golden age for bakeries and good varieties of bread. Beer and cheese selections have never been better. Olives, olive oil and other oils abound. Varieties of fresh produce and their availability. We’re in the golden age of variety…except for species, I guess. Oh well.

6 Ken G. { 10.08.14 at 3:39 pm }

So what Klezmer groups played in the 1990s in Tombstone, Arizona; Wazoo, Wyoming; Truth or Consequences, New Mexico??

7 Bert Stratton { 10.08.14 at 5:40 pm }

To Ken G.
Yiddishe Cup almost had a gig in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Does that count?

8 Ken Goldberg { 10.08.14 at 6:58 pm }


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