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.



Holy grail level? Yes. You are about to see vintage footage of Mickey Katz playing klezmer clarinet on TV in 1973. (Details below.)

For newbies: Katz — besides playing terrific clarinet — wrote and sang comedic songs like “Duvid Crockett,” “How Much is that Herring in the Window?” and “16 Tons (of Hard Salami).” He was a huge success. OK, make that “a moderate success,” but big with yids in the 1950s and 1960s. Katz played on the Goodtime boat in Cleveland. He played at the gambling casinos in suburban Cleveland in the 1930s and at the Alpine Village — Herman Pirchner’s downtown club — during the World War II. Katz moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles after the war. Joel Grey is Mickey Katz’s son.

Katz melded klezmer music with Jewish comedy. He almost single-handedly popularized that shlub-genre. My band, Yiddishe Cup, is, in a way, a Mickey Katz tribute band. Mickey Katz is my Mickey Mantle.

The 3:27-minute video, below, is the totality of all Katz klezmer footage on the internet. There ain’t none else. It’s as if somebody suddenly came up with film of Naftule Brandwein. (Ah, forget it — unless you’re a klezmer musician.) Ladies and gentlemen, this is the missing link. This clip is a musical and cultural lodestone. It’s the visual link between pre-war klez and the klez revival of the late 20th century.

This vid was sequestered in my closet for 17 years. It escaped today!

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1 Mark Schilling { 04.29.20 at 9:19 am }

Haven’t you been playing this tune for the last thirty year? The master…

2 Steven Greenman { 04.29.20 at 9:37 am }

That was awesome!

3 Dan Kirschner { 04.29.20 at 10:32 am }

Great archival recording, Bert! I don’t recall ever seeing a klezmer clarinetist smile simultaneous to performing. Thanks for sharing this, Dan K

4 Kenneth Goldberg { 04.29.20 at 11:12 am }

You might spell it “Crockett” but it was pronounced “Chrockett,” with the strong gutteral “ch.” Not a nice Yiddish word, my parents used to say. I wish we had MK at my Rochester Bar Mitzvah but Len Hawley’s was a perfectly good band for such events.

5 don friedman { 04.29.20 at 1:21 pm }

The sound of klez really awakened something in me in ’95 when I auditioned for your band. You might remember I talked about my dad listening to the Barton Brothers and cantorial music and other klez musicians of the day(1953). My ears captured all of that and it wasn’t until ’95 with you all that it came back to me. What a good feeling. Loved all of the concerts we did and attended. And the beer was good too!

6 MARC Adler { 04.29.20 at 1:49 pm }

Wow! What talent. Is that Joel Grey with him?

7 Sylvia Malcmacher Kramer { 04.30.20 at 9:28 pm }

So fun to watch! Thanks Bert!

8 Carol S Reichart { 04.30.20 at 11:48 pm }

Love this!! thank you
My dad used to love Pete Fountain — reminds me a little bit…

9 Jeffrey Zygmont { 05.04.20 at 5:54 pm }

I just found your blog from a search for “Klezmer Guy” after reading the Wall Street Journal oped “The Rent Collector’s Dilemma,” by Bert Stratton (you), which appeared in today’s print edition (May 4). Thanks very much for posting this clip of Mickey Katz from ’73. I was a high-school senior at the time (and entered the U.S. Army that summer to attend West Point). My mom watched The Mike Douglas Show religiously. The Merv Griffin Show too. Seeing Mike Douglas alone would have made the clip worthwhile. Joel Grey at such a young age was a nice addition too (looks like he should have been bulking up by eating more pasta at that age, or whatever the Jewish/Yiddish equivalent might have been — please fill me in if you know). But in addition to those pleasures, I thoroughly enjoyed and was mightily impressed by Mickey Katz’s artistry. Thanks again for posting it. A number of your earlier blog postings were equally as enjoyable. I’ll check in regularly now.

10 Jeff Marks { 05.06.20 at 6:02 pm }

I’ve long known of Mickey Katz, progenitor of Joel Grey, but never knew of his apparently effortless astounding virtuosity on clarinet. Superbly done, uplifting to hear and a historical treasure. He almost encapsulates all popular klez tunes in 3:27 minutes. Thanks for retrieving and dusting it off and replaying it.

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