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.



There was fervid heckling at the 2018 Workmen’s Circle concert. The show, at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, featured Yiddishe Cup / Funk a Deli. The emcee was Michael Wex, author of Born to Kvetch. Wex is a kamikaze raconteur. He takes chances with his monologues, playing with self-immolation. Wex wears elves shoes to bring him luck. The shoes curl up at the tips.

The Yiddish-concert audience can be unforgiving, maybe because the show is free and attracts all types. One year Josh Dolgin, aka Socalled, was heard backstage saying, “Why do they bring freaks like me here!” Maybe Dolgin was having second thoughts about how the AK crowd would respond to his hip-hop klezmer. The Cleveland audience is mostly baby-boom AKs, plus a few genuine WWII types, and some Russians and Orthodox. Every year there are fewer bodies at the show. Six-to-eight hundred is a typical turn out. Used to be around 2,000.

Miguel Wex

Miguel Wex

At last year’s concert, a man interrupted Wex with “When’s the music start!” Wex was discussing hok a tshaynik and how it related to funk (as in Funk a Deli). Wex told the heckler, “This is the music, schemdrick!”

Wex also did a comedic bit about fat Hasidim. (Before the show, Wex had noticed some yarmulkes in the crowd and wondered if his shtick would fly. He told me his humor had gone over well with frum Jews before.) In his monologue, Wex said many Hasidim don’t exercise but do seem to like to push. Wex said the inventor of Roller Derby, the late Leo Seltzer, was a former Hasid. Wex said if four Hasidim gathered in opposite corners of the Cain Park amphitheater, the four Hasidim would eventually meet in the middle of the theater and push each other. Wex said he had been to Japan (not true) and wanted to start a new sport, Frumo. A concertgoer stood up and yelled, “Stop it. Stop it right now!”

Wex said, “This is what I get paid to do. You don’t have to listen to me if you don’t want to.”

We were witnessing a Lenny Bruce reenactment — for free yet.

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1 Ken Goldberg { 04.10.19 at 9:28 am }

So what’s “AK?”

2 Bert Stratton { 04.10.19 at 12:12 pm }

To Ken Goldberg: “AK” is alter kocker.

3 Sylvia M. Kramer { 04.10.19 at 8:44 pm }

Oy – bad memory. However, I love the way you write.

4 Steven Greenman { 04.11.19 at 8:45 am }

So you got permission to write this then?

5 Mark Davidson { 04.11.19 at 12:39 pm }

I was at the show and enjoyed him and your band (as always). This reminds me of my work at the Maltz Museum training docents. Every time we would ask people to hold their questions until the end of the presentation. About 2 minutes later the hands would start going up (if they were in a polite mood, if not they would just start yelling) and the questions and complaints and arguments would start.

6 Mark Davidson { 04.11.19 at 12:46 pm }

And I hate to say this, and it breaks my heart, but do you really think 600-800 people show up? It looks more like 200 tops to me in recent years. I had great hopes that the Klezmer Revival, and bringing in folks like Golem and Socalled, would bring in new crowds. But it’s fading. I still remember Klezmatics having a sold-out crowd, but if I admit it, that was over 2o years ago.

7 Mark Davidson { 04.11.19 at 12:47 pm }

. . . maybe more like 15 years ago . . .

8 Bert Stratton { 04.11.19 at 1:31 pm }

To Mark Davidson:

Klezmatics were in 1999. 1727 people. Smaller crowds ever since.

9 Dave Rowe { 04.12.19 at 6:58 am }

I take it Michael Stanley didn’t do a set.

10 MARC Adler { 04.17.19 at 3:22 pm }

I remember Wex from Klezkamp. He was hilarious.
He did a parody of the song “I’m too sexy” dressed as a chasid. Incredibly funny.

11 Jeff Marks { 04.18.19 at 1:18 am }

You offer quite a different take on Wex than the impression I got from the reports – almost sympathetic to Wex and more positive. Sounds like he is a prisoner of his own “shtick” but knows and intends to be pushing himself — to the edges of acceptability. Or could he have been barely concealing hostility to the subjects of his barbs?
Unfortunately, I was out of town, don’t have a 1st -person impression and can’t judge.

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