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 Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.


OF 2015

Notso Kosher Records

My desk is piled high with free CDs: Ezekiel’s Wheels, Golem, Vulfpeck, Winograd, all kinds of Dutch and Polish bands, and the old standbys like Klezmer Conservatory Band and the Klezmatics.

Drum roll . . . Here are the best klezmer recordings of 2015:

1. Orlando. Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars take us on a tour of Disney World. “Mickey’s Philharmonic” features London on electric toothbrush (pulse position). “Whistle While You Work” is about short people — Jewish short people: Billy Crystal, Abe Beame and Menachem Begin, and that’s just the first 30 seconds.

2. I Believe in Cod. Andy Statman flips out. Sample lyrics: “May cod bless you and guide you. Praise cod in the high heaven and in the deep sea. Teeming oceans, fire and hail, snow and mist, storm and wind, obey cod’s will.”

3. The Room Where I Was Born. Steven Greenman recreates the sonic architecture of his Pittsburgh childhood bedroom, complete with Steelers pennants and Fiddler on the Roof LPs. Sweaty and no A/C.

Alan Douglass, Yiddishe Cup enforcer, 2011

4. This Can’t Be Klezmer by Yiddishe Cup. A musical jail complete with corporal punishment. Perfect for the heartbroken, horny and dead. Yiddishe Cup mixes barely adequate musicianship with a touch of humor. It doesn’t sound like klezmer, but then what did you expect with a title like This Can’t Be Klezmer?

5. Strung Out by Pete Rushefsky. Nothing on the 1 and 3; it’s all off-beats. Drives you crazy, but in a good way. There is an after-party. You have to be in New York.

6. Anti Semit by Michael Wex. Sixty LOL minutes from Wex’s KlezKanada emceeing. Can anybody top Wex’s Walter Brennan-is-a-Jew sketch? No.

7. Odorous by Shtreiml. Jason Rosenblatt spent years in the lab on this one. This smells like sulfur.  Le jazz hot — and funky — from Montreal.

Jack Stratton, about 2008

8. Without a Net. Vulfpeck’s Jack Stratton uses metal parts from surgeries gone bad — mostly hip replacements — to perform Meron drum licks. Particularly good cuts: “Bodies Thrown Back” and “Clarity.”  The rest of the album is pretty conventional.

9. In the Klezmer Aisle by Yiddish Princess. Sarah Gordon does freestyle rapping about Kashi Autumn Wheat and Island Vanilla cereals, which leads to kishke, which leads to ka-ka. Juvenile and fun.

10. Blackout. Henry Sapoznik gives us a wake-up call, smashing his banjo, then picking up a clarinet. Tons of squeaks. Sapoznik whines like a fourth-grader at the end: “I quit! I quit!”

This post first appeared 12/5/12 in slightly different form.

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1 Ted { 12.16.15 at 9:08 am }

I think you’ve used the Kashi bit before.

2 Bert Stratton { 12.16.15 at 9:13 am }

To Ted:
I use the Kashi bit a lot, true.

3 Ken Goldberg { 12.16.15 at 11:52 am }

Did you notice this list is heavy on the Strattons? I wonder why…. Where’s my favorite name – Hankus Netsky? I don’t know anything about his music but the name really rubs me the wrong way, so I just can’t get it out of my mind, unfortunately. Did he give up Klezmer to drive a cab or something?
Incidentally, cod is best breaded and fried. Please keep that in mind.

4 Steven Greenman { 12.16.15 at 4:49 pm }

I’m still at number 3!

5 Steven Greenman { 12.16.15 at 4:50 pm }

We actually were one the only people on Great Smoky Drive in Plum Boro to have AC btw.

6 Helene { 12.16.15 at 6:20 pm }

Apparently there is nothing happening, in the Klezmer domain, out of the USA in 2015 ?

7 Bert Stratton { 12.17.15 at 8:59 am }

To Helene:

Correct. (Canada is the 51st state!)

8 Pete Rushefsky { 12.18.15 at 4:33 pm }

Tell Greenman his footing at #3 is shaky – i’m coming for him in ’16!

9 Henry Shapiro { 03.02.16 at 12:38 pm }

No. 3 means you don’t try at all, you just let it happen. So I’ll be a shoe-in for next year!

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