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.



I always wanted to cut another musician in a jam session. I wanted to draw blood! Problem: I’m a mediocre musician. I attended a wedding in New York, and the mother of the bride asked me to play some clarinet. I said, “You already have a good band.” But she insisted I play. The orchestra was a 10-piece wedding unit of NYC pros. I agreed to sit in only if my  son Jack backed me up on drums. (This was before Jack got known with Vulfpeck, so “I want my son on drums” was simply a crutch for me, not leverage to sit in.)

The bandleader and I exchanged emails prior. This was serious biz. In Cleveland, at my band’s gigs, I always let any  wedding guest sit in. Any . . . body!  It’s a wedding, not a concert. This NYC bandleader was choosy. He said the groom’s mom didn’t want anybody to ruin the “flow” of the party.

At the New York party, I stashed my axe in the synagogue front office near the social hall, and had a good time as a guest. The band had three singers, a saxophonist, trumpeter, guitarist, etc. No clarinet. They played Black Eyed Peas, Beatles,”YMCA,” Chuck Berry.

jack and bert stratton 10_22_11

Jack (L) and Bert Stratton, 2011

Toward the end of the party, the bandleader hadn’t yet called me up, so I went into the synagogue office, got my axe, and played along — from the office. I got into a solid groove. The band was back to Jewish music, playing a tune I knew really well. I strolled into the reception and took the melody from the saxophonist. My son hopped on drums. We played old-school klezmer, which hadn’t been heard all night. Success.

Next stop, Minton’s Playhouse, Harlem!

Funk A Deli, aka Yidd Cup, is at Cain Park, Cleveland, 7 pm Sun. June 24. Free. No tix necessary. Special guests are Michael Wex, Kathy Sebo, Steve Greenman, Greg Selker and Shawn Fink.

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1 David Korn { 06.13.18 at 9:06 am }

Good post, Bert. I wish I’d been at that wedding.

2 Gerald Ross { 06.13.18 at 11:54 am }

Similar thing happened to me. At my son’s wedding in NYC last year I sat in with a 9 piece professional wedding band. My son wanted me to play ‘Sleepwalk’ on my lap steel guitar. The manager of the band insisted I send a chart a month in advance. I was given the OK. Wedding evening I was informed that I would join the band for my one song at 8:40 PM (pretty tight-ass if you ask me). I joined the band onstage. They eyed me over. I didn’t look like a hip NYC musician but they had to have me up there – I was the groom’s father. I said “I’ll count it off.” I looked at the guitar player and said “You’ll feel like it’s going to the IV in the third bar… go to the IVm instead.” That got their attention. I counted it off and started the intro. The band looked surprised. I could tell they were thinking “this guy knows what he’s doing”. During the song I could feel that the guitar player wanted a solo. I didn’t let him have one. I took them all. Serves them right for doubting a 63 year old overweight Jew from the Midwest.

3 Mark Schilling { 06.14.18 at 2:52 am }

Battle of the saxes: Sonny Stitt versus Gene Ammons at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, 1970. Nobody cut the Jug…

4 Dave Rowe { 06.14.18 at 11:48 am }

Sounds like a good time – too bad there probably weren’t any Yiddishe Cup CD’s on hand.

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