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 New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.



KlezKamp shuts down this month after 30 annual get-togethers. This post looks at KlezKamp 1990.  KlezKamp was a huge positive influence on many musicians.

Sid Beckerman was a living legend of klez clarinet. I followed him around KlezKamp — the  annual music conference in the Catskills.

Sid talked to me!  Big deal?  Yes, it was.  Sid was paid staff, and I was a payer, as in student/customer/fawner, and paid staff was on a higher plane, hard to corner.  They had a lot of demands on their time.

Sid Beckerman, 1998 photo.

Sid Beckerman, 1998

Sid had no ego, according to Washington clarinetist Rodney Brooks, another student.  “Sid was never a star,” Rodney explained.  Sid was “discovered” by klez revivalists, and made his first record at 70.  (He died at 88 in 2007.)

Sid had a handwritten tune-book called “the sheets,” as in “sheet music.”  Sid’s guardian of “the sheets” was pianist Pete Sokolow (b. 1940), who had transcribed the tunes for Sid.

The most popular tune in the collection was “SB7,” which meant “Sid Beckerman tune #7.”  Dave Tarras had originally recorded it as “Di Zilberne Chasene” (The Silver Wedding).  Yiddishe Cup recorded it as “40A.”

Pete Sokolow, 2007

Pete Sokolow, 2007

At KlezKamp I developed a strategy for getting the sheets from Pete Sokolow.  First, I gave Pete a xerox of an obscure 1938 magazine article about “Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn,” hoping to get in Pete’s good graces. Sokolow, stuffing the magazine article in his pocket, said, “The sheets?  What sheets?  I’m so busy now.  I’m working up an arrangement for fifteen people.  What did Sid say?”

I hadn’t asked Sid.  So I went to Sid and offered him $20 for the sheets.  Sid said, “For what?  What transcriptions?”

Funny, all the clarinetists from D.C. knew the SB tunes. So I badgered Rodney, the dean of D.C. clarinetists, some more.  I hocked him.  He finally admitted he had the sheets.  “You can xerox them,” he said.  “But don’t say you got them from me.  Somebody might take umbrage.”

A year later, 1991, the sheets came out as the Klezmer Plus! Folio by Tara Publications.  Everybody could buy them.  Sokolow and Sid were just protecting their investments.

The above post is a rerun.  A version ran as “The Sheets,” 10/7/09.   Also, please check out the first comment (recycled from ’09) by Steven Greenman, about Sid Beckerman.


OK, you want to read something new . . .


I yelled at my wife today. Nothing new there. She forgot to buy milk.

I need a Bud. My neighbor — a guy from Germany — says Bud is the best beer in America.

I drink too much, I know that. Anymore, I’m surprised my wife puts up with me. My kids left. They won’t even talk to me.

I know I should cut back. I’d like to get down to a case a week. I had a friend who drank himself to death at 42. He put away a case a day — 24 brewskis. That’s ridiculous even by my standards. Four beers a day is what I’m shooting for.

I need a beer!

This is a fake profile.

Yiddishe Cup plays First Night Akron (Ohio) New Year’s Eve, 9:30 p.m. John S. Knight Convention Center. Booze-free event.

Did somebody say free booze?

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1 Steven Greenman { 12.24.14 at 8:37 am }

[This comment originally appeared 10/7/09]

Actually, I received the SB xeroxed tunes from you back in the day, in the early 90’s. Klezmer Plus only has a few of those tunes. The old xeroxes have many, many more. I think around 50 or more tunes, which are mostly bulgars.

One colleague of mine thought that “SB” stood for “Stu Brotman,” and I had to correct him.

Sid was a wonderful man who lived a block or two away from my grandma Sylvia Greenman in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, NY.

On my many trips to New York, I would stay with my grandma and take the subway to Manhattan to work with Zev Feldman and Michael Alpert, among others. A couple times, walking along Bay Parkway going to the subway, I ran into Sid. He was such a nice man, and he remembered me each time, even though he kept calling me “Brian” or some other name.

He was a big influence on Margot Leverett and many others.

And good point…the man had no ego, and lived somewhat in the shadow of his more successful father, who made klezmer recordings (Shloimke Beckerman).

Pete Sokolow still talks about Sid and how much he misses him.

Thanks for remembering a nice good honest sweet man, who everyone loved and respected.

[Bert Stratton response to Steven Greenman, 10/7/09]

To Steven Greenman:

Direct from the Klezmer Guy research department: The SB “sheets” is 26 tunes, and the Klezmer Plus! Folio is 13 tunes/medleys.

2 Mark Schilling { 12.24.14 at 8:06 pm }

Four beers a day will only get your fictional boozer pleasantly buzzed. He needs to move on to the hard stuff. I’ve just read Jack London’s alcoholic memoir “John Barleycorn” (a Kindle freebie), so I know what I’m talking about!

3 Ken Goldberg { 12.25.14 at 9:11 am }

Now there’s a shlump who could use a stiff glass of Manischewitz grape juice!

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