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.



I talk a lot at nursing-home gigs. I like to get the audience talking, too. I ask the audience about their favorite delis and where they went to high school. One guy always heckles me – “Again with the high schools?” Yes, again with the high schools. And this guy is not even a resident; he visits a friend who lives in the nursing home.

I often ask listeners their names. At my last gig, there was a woman, Ona, who said she was named for the actress Ona Munson. Never heard of Ona Munson. I didn’t ask Ona where she went to high school because she’s from New Jersey and nobody in Cleveland knows about New Jersey high schools.

An elderly husky black man had some musical requests. He was a visitor. He wanted “One O’Clock Jump.” I didn’t know it. Then he said, “Anything by Glenn Miller?” I played “I Got Rhythm.” Close enough. He rocked-and-rolled to every song – clapping and singing along. Alan Douglass (my piano accompanist) and I played all kinds of music: klezmer, American pop, Israeli. The man grooved to everything. He said his name was Roland Hanna.

“Roland Hanna! I guess Alan and I better go home now,” I said. Alan and I would leave and let Roland take over. Roland smiled. Roland Hanna, the renowned pianist. Roland told us to continue.

Roland Hanna

Alan asked Roland if he liked “sweet soul,” a favorite genre of Alan’s. Roland was cool with that. Alan did “Stone in Love With You” by the Stylistics. Roland knew every word. Then Roland requested Billy Joel. It’s affecting when black musicians request songs by white artists. Roland said, “You can do Billy Joel! You’ve got a harmonica player.” I did have a harp. We played “Piano Man,” featuring harp.

Alan did a country tune, “Behind Closed Doors” by Charlie Rich, and  we did the soul tune “My Girl,” and Alan did a funk tune, “Will It Go Round in Circles.” All for Roland Hanna.

Before the final tune of the set, I asked Roland if he wanted to play something with us. He passed. After the gig, we schmoozed. I asked if he still played. He said he had never played. He said he was Rollin Hannah, Cleveland Heights High class of ’69. He said, “It’s Rollin like in Sonny Rollins, and Hannah, spelled the same backwards and forward.”

Pianist Roland Hanna was a Detroit musician who played in the Thad Jones –Mel Lewis Big Band in New York in the 1970s. “Roland Hanna” — the name — stuck with me all these years. Stuck a bit too hard.

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1 comment

1 Stephen Mumford { 06.26.24 at 12:07 pm }

Kind of funny – Rollin never could carry a tune.

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