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.



At various Yiddishe Cup gigs, I was often surprised how the crowd would ask for Israeli tunes more than klezmer (Eastern European) tunes. Jews in Cleveland wanted Israeli music, got that? OK, I gave it to them. (Aside: classic Israeli tunes are easier to play than klezmer, which is instrument-based and leans toward virtuosic. Also, klezmer rhythms are typically more complex than classic Israeli tunes.)

Yiddishe Cup learned a lot of Israeli tunes, enough that many Israelis assumed we could belt out contemporary (not “classic”) Israeli music.

Israeli music —  in the trade — is known as “Tel Aviv bus station music.” We had no clue how to play it. Luckily there was an Israeli singer in Cleveland, Shlomo Ziton, to cover that niche for 0ur town’s Israeli-American contingent.

On one Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) I got in a dispute with a dance enthusiast who complained I wasn’t playing enough Israeli folk dances. “Too much klezmer,” he said. So I worked out a formula: play Israeli chalutzim (pioneer) classics, and for contemporary Israeli stuff plug in my iPhone or CD (depending on the decade). Very little klezmer.

Happy birthday, Israel!

And by the way, there was an article by Daniel Hoffman in Haaretz on Monday headlined “Why Do Israelis Still Hate Klezmer Music?” (Paywall.) “Secular Israelis have long rejected klezmer, an overt, emotional expression of Ashkenazi Jewish musical culture. Sometimes the strength of that opposition – and resistance to anything Yiddish, religious or associated with the Holocaust – knocks me flat.”

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1 comment

1 Dan Kirschner { 04.26.23 at 10:41 am }

Your comments this week reminded me that often at nursing home gigs, when we had finished an energetic performance of both klezmer and “classic” israeli pieces, one “alte kakker” or another would display a farbissina punim and complain that we hadn’t played hatikvah! so, we’d have to on short notice retrieve our instruments & not only play hatikvah, but also the star-spangled banner for good measure, as it were.

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