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. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.
 

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 is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

Category — Klezmer

THE YIDDISHE CUP FIGHT SONG

Yiddishe Cup’s singer, Irwin Weinberger, wrote a song about attending baseball games with his father. Irwin even mentioned The Rock in the song — Rocky Colavito. Guys are supposed to talk about sports, and drink when they get together.  I know this isn’t always a fact.  One Yiddishe Cup musician calls sports a “cult.”

The town is going ape-wire over the Cleveland Cavaliers again. Some of the guys don’t care.

Some of the guys do.

In 1997, when the Indians were in the World Series, Yiddishe Cup was playing Simchat Torah gigs, and we hid in the temple cloak room and caught bits of the action on a small portable TV.

Yiddishe Cup is not sports adverse. We play fight songs. Here are the fight songs you need to know in our part of the Midwest:

1. Ohio State’s  “Hang On Sloopy” and “Fight The Team Across the Field.”  Sometimes we hold off on “Hang On Sloopy” until the Buckeyes score.  That’s the protocol. If you play “Hang on Sloopy” before the Bucks score, it’s bad luck.

2. Michigan’s “The Victors” is a biggie. Also, Michigan State, “On Wisconsin,” and the Pitt fight song, which is not the same as the Steelers’ song. Forget about Notre Dame –for a klez band.

Yiddishe Cup knows “Are You From Wooster?”:

If you’re from Oberlin or Denison or Wesleyan U.,

The Scots will take good care of you before they’re through.

Beisbol! 1957

Beisbol! 1957

A version of this first appeared 6/3/09.

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May 31, 2017   3 Comments

THE KLEZMER BLINDFOLD TEST

Blindfold test. I received no prior information. Ratings are on a 1-to-5 scale.

***

1. “Oy Avram” Yiddish Princess

This one reminds me of Daniel Kahn, the young Jew in Berlin. Maybe he’s not that young. Let’s call him late-30s. Middle age is a long slog. When does it start? What about 66 — is that still middle age? What’s old?

The lead singer on this is Sarah Cooper. Sing, baby, sing. I give it a 5.

Sarah Mina Gordon, vocals; Michael Winograd, synths; Avi Fox-Rosen, guitar; Yoshie Fruchter, guitar; Ari Folman-Cohen, bass; Chris Berry drums.

***

2. “Blooz” Michael Winograd’s Infection

My philosophy: do something new every day. If I have Kashi Island Vanilla for breakfast today, I go with Kashi Autumn Wheat tomorrow. Joe’s O’s or Cheerios?  Depends.

Michael Winograd

This is Wino, Michael Winograd, on clarinet. He constructs his tunes with great care. Give him a 5.

Michael Winograd, clarinet; Frank London, trumpet; Daniel Blackberg, trombone; Brandon Seabrook guitar; Michael McLaughlin, accordion; Jason Nazary, drums.

***

3. “Sher 199” Bessarabian Hop. Michael Winograd

Again with Winograd? He’s big-time. His clarinet is Canadian, that much I know.

Winograd plays with time and stretches out the composition. It’s a 5.

Winograd, clarinet; Joey Weisenberg, mandolin; Patrick Farrell, accordion; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl; Daniel Blacksberg, trombone; Nick Cudahy, bass; Richie Barshay, drums.

***

4. “Epstein” Poykler’s Shloft Lied. Matt Temkin’s Yiddishe Jam Band

That’s Temkin. He wears his hat backwards and hangs out in Brooklyn. I know a backward hat-wearing drummer in Cleveland. My guy is Greek and does apartment cleanups after fires. Married to a Jewish girl. Plays some Jewish.

Frank London is on trumpet here. He’s on every klezmer record. Give it a 5.

Temkin, drums; Mike Cohen, reeds; Binyomin Ginzberg, keys; Brian Glassman, bass; Rachel Lemisch, trombone; Allen Watsky guitar: Frank London. trumpet.

***

 

 

5. “Baladi” Balada. Bulgarian Wedding Music.  Yuri Yunakov

Heavy brass and breakneck tempos. These guys drink slivovitz by the gallon. I have one word for them: slow down. Give it a 5.

Yunakov, alto sax; Neshko Neshev, accordion; Lauren Brody, synth; Seido Salifoski, dumbek; Catherine Foster, clarinet; Carol Silverman, vocals.

***

6. “Shake Hands with your Uncle Max” The Jewish Songbook.  Jason Alexander

Who is this? I’m seeing ghosts. I’m fainting. Give it a 3.

Alexander, vocals; Mike Garson, piano; Chuck Berghofer, bass; Don Heffington, drums; Marc Ellis, guitar.

***

7. “Mazl Tov Dances” You Should Be So Lucky! Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

The music is harmonically deep and soulful. Give it a 5. Thank you, KCB!

Ralph Wilder, clarinet; Alex Koffman, violin; Ivo Braun, trumpet; Sam Margolis, trombone; Gail Mangurten, piano; David Rothstein, bass; Steve Hawk, percussion.

***

8. “Meshugge ’bout my Myed’l” Klezmerfats!  Peter Sokolow

Pete Sokolow

Sokolow is a rhythmically complex animal. Not only can he play, he can he talk; he’ll drey you a kup for three straight hours at KlezKamp, and all good stuff.  Read his interview with professor Phil Brown. That’s the best musician interview ever.

Pete combines earthiness, gravity and buoyancy. A 5.

Sokolow, piano, vocals.

***

9. “Ko Riboyn Olam” Stempenyu’s Dream.   Steven Greenman.

Greenman

This is Greenman, the LeBron of klezmer violin. Greenie sinks a 5-pointer.

Greenman, violin, vocals; Michael Alpert, violin, vocals; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl; Mark Rubin, bass.

***

 

 

10. “Rumenye”  Homesick Songs Golem

Golem

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Ezekiel’s Wheels. This is so meaty. What’s for lunch?  Give it a 6.

Annette Ezekiel, vocals, accordion; Aaron Diskin, vocals; Alicia Jo Rabins, violin; Curtis Hasselbring, trombone; Taylor Bergren-Chrisman, bass; Laura Cromwell, drums.


A version of this post first appeared here 6/26/13.

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January 18, 2017   2 Comments

SHARP SALAMI

There’s no money in the arts. My old clarinet teacher told me that.  He used to eat salami sandwiches while I took lessons. That stunk. Mr. Golub. He bought a building across from his music store; named the building after his daughter, The Joyce Manor; and sold it years later. He said he regretted he didn’t move with his brother to D.C. and make an even bigger killing there in a real boom town.

Golub’s Music Center. He had a neon saxophone on the sign. That, alone, drew the customers.  Inside, there were bongos and guitars.

Mr. Golub couldn’t play by ear. That mystified him. Mystifies me — playing by ear. But I can do it —  somewhat.

I’m the klezmer guy. I go to shivas and tell the mourners that, and, yeah, they recognize me. They say, “Oh, you’re the klezmer guy.”

Everybody needs to be some kind of “guy” (or “gal”). I became the klezmer guy because I put together the longest-lasting Jewish band between Chicago and D.C.  Yiddishe Cup.

No mega money in this but it keeps me from going nuts.

A version of this post first appeared 5/12/09. Klezmer Guy post numero-uno.


Yiddishe Cup is at Akron First Night 10-11:30 p.m. Sat. (Dec 31.)

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December 28, 2016   2 Comments

THANKSGIVING WEDDING . . . SICK

I negotiated a Thanksgiving Day wedding. The mom thought Thanksgiving was the perfect wedding day because nobody would come. The groom’s side was from New York, so flights to Cleveland would be expensive. Beautiful. And the locals would skip the wedding to eat Thanksgiving dinner at home with their kids, who wouldn’t be invited to the wedding. Again, beautiful.

I listened to this craziness for three phone calls. Then the mom hired Yiddishe Cup. Yes! The band members rescheduled their own Thanksgiving dinners. Not an easy task.

t-day-wedding22121The mom called a fourth time and said the bride wanted a different band. I didn’t ask who. I was so mad. I usually ask who is the other band, but I was so mad, mostly at myself because I had forgotten rule number-one: it’s all about the bride. [Exception: A mom once booked us for a wedding, and the bride, from Seattle, ran up to the bandstand and said, “I hate klezmer music! How could my mother do this to me!”]

After the Thanksgiving turkey hung up, I called a second customer — a bat mitzvah mom — who was late with her contract and deposit. She said she wanted to talk more. I had already talked enough. I dislike phones. I said, “Yiddishe Cup has been around over twenty years. You’ve seen us. Everybody has seen us.”

She said her husband was sick. Pause. Sick could mean very ill. It sometimes even means dying. I’ve played simchas where dads roll down the aisle in wheelchairs. Dads who can’t talk because of strokes. Guys with half a brain left.

Yiddishe Cup has even played for dead people; we played a bat mitzvah luncheon where the bat mitzvah girl’s mom died the day before. We played in the family room instead of at the party center. Two or three people tried a hora.

Anyway, the customer with the sick husband came to my house for further discussion. I asked what her husband’s illness was. She said he was depressed. She said her husband, a doctor, had lost a patient that week. Doctors lose patients all the time, right? It turns out she wanted to change the date, the number of musicians, and a few other things. Which she did. The gig — on a new date, with fewer musicians — was surprisingly decent; everybody was upbeat and nobody bugged the band, except for Grandpa, who said to our pianist, “Do you know your fly is down?”

Our pianist — who has been around — answered, “No, can you hum a few bars?”

And nobody was sick.

Happy TG.

A version of this post first appeared 11/24/10.

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November 23, 2016   3 Comments

A LOVE SUPREME

The Jazz Temple was a former Packard showroom at Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue. Coltrane and Dinah Washington  played there. The Jazz Temple was in business from 1960 to 1963. I passed the Jazz Temple weekly on my way to Sunday school at The Temple, the gold-domed Reform temple in University Circle.

Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver was the head rabbi at The Temple. He once spoke at the United Nations, advocating for the founding of the State of Israel. Rabbi Silver’s son, Dan, was the assistant rabbi. Dan  played football at Harvard and occasionally wrote for the Cleveland Edition.

At Sunday school, kids were mostly from Shaker Heights. One kid got a ride in a limo to temple. The driver wore a chauffeur’s cap. The limo wasn’t a Rolls; it was a Buick station wagon.

I couldn’t grasp how temple — the word — fit into the Jazz Temple. Was Jazz a religion too? Many years later, I met former beatniks who had actually gone to shows at the Jazz Temple.

abba-hillel-silverThe Jazz Temple was blown up in 1963. Somebody didn’t like the club or the owner, Winston Willis, a controversial black businessman. At The Temple religious school, we students attended services every Sunday morning to hear Rabbi Silver. (Services were on Sunday, not Saturday, in the 1950s at Silver’s.) Rabbi Silver looked like God. Nowadays, at The Temple East in Beachwood, there is a Abba Hillel Silver memorial study. The rabbi’s desk is laid out like he just stepped out for lunch. He died in 1963, just six days after Kennedy got murdered.

A slightly different version of this appeared 9/5/12. If you need baseball stuff, see my story at City Journal.

 

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November 2, 2016   5 Comments

THE 2016 VULPECK MANIFESTO

1. Theory has nothing to do with Vulfpeck.

2. Vulfpeck takes chances and, yes, they occasionally screw up.

3. Vulfpeck locks, loads and listens.

4. Pyrotechnics are OK with Vulfpeck.

5. Be chatty, then shut up, then be chatty.

6. Feelings are always appropriate.

7. Vulfpeck’s X-axis is tragedy, its Y-axis is comedy. Plot it.

8. and 9. are proprietary. (Hint: “8” involves blood and “9” is about horse-race handicapping.)

10. To get Vulfpeck’s upcoming album on opening day (Oct 16), sign up here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1461914303/vulfpeck-the-beautiful-game/description

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October 5, 2016   1 Comment

JEWS IN CHURCH

A Protestant church hired Yiddishe Cup. About time. Ninety-eight percent of America isn’t Jewish, so that’s a market. The church music director asked if I wanted the communion table moved. For one, I didn’t know Protestants do communion. But this church did — twice a month. The music director moved the communion table to the narthex. Interesting word. Also, there was a goodwill offering. The minister is called “pastor,” not “minister.”

The basics.

Please check out my essay “Papa Won’t Preach” at City Journal today. It’s about how “a love of music unites a father and son,” and specifically about the Vulfpeck show in Central Park tonight (Wed. Sept 7). Alice Stratton will be at that concert, and will no doubt jump on stage and do the “Funky Duck” with the band, so if you’re in NYC, be at the show!

Alice Stratton w/ Vulfpeck, L.A., June 2016

Alice Stratton w/ Vulfpeck, L.A., June 2016

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September 7, 2016   4 Comments

SHE NEVER HEARD
OF YIDDISHE CUP

We played a 90th birthday party, where the celebrant’s daughter, age 65, sat about a foot from the band and requested tune after tune. She liked Mickey Katz parodies and knew a lot of other Jewish classics. For instance, she knew the “Russian Sher.” She said she had grown up on Hello Solly, an album by Mickey Katz.

And she had never heard of Yiddishe Cup! This daughter had lived in Cleveland her entire adult life. Yiddishe Cup has played everywhere on Cleveland’s East Side — every temple, park, club, every inch. Was she house-bound?

never hoid emShe didn’t look it. She and her 90-year-old mom looked pretty good.

I Googled the daughter. Facebook said she “studied at The Ohio State University, lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and listens to Yiddishe Cup.” I told her to add that last part.  I bet she’ll take it down.

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August 10, 2016   2 Comments

VASE SMASHER

A musician broke a vase at a wedding. He walked right into the vase before the ceremony, before anybody arrived. Many vases lined the wedding aisle. The musician said to the florist, “I’ll pay,” and the florist went to her warehouse and got another vase.

Two days later, the florist called me and asked for $50. She said, “Your musician didn’t pay.”

I gave the florist the musician’s number and said, “I think the host — the bride’s family — should pay for it. That was one fancy wedding.”

“Really, who do you want to pay for it?” she said. “He walked into it. There were 300 people at that wedding and he was the one who walked into a vase. It’s $50 — my cost.”

The musician called me: “I said I’d pay for it, but what do you think I should do?”

“You said you’d pay for it, so I guess you should pay for it. Or better yet, call the mom of the bride. She loved us. She’ll probably pay.”

The next day I  checked in with the musician. “Did you call the mom?”

“No.”

She would have paid!

vase smasher

 

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June 29, 2016   5 Comments

NOT OUR FAULT

What was the worst Yiddishe Cup concert ever? Hard to say. There have been so many.  (Joke.) What about when we showed up on stage and a PTA-type meeting was on stage too?  The school principal, via the custodian, said no way were we getting on stage for our concert.  The custodian said, “The PhDs and MBAs think they know so much.”

We went on 20 minutes late.

We’re never late. It wasn’t our fault.

pta meeting on stage

I had a story, “Believeland in Cleveland,” in the New York Times online about the Cavaliers winning the NBA championship.

 

 

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June 22, 2016   5 Comments

BAD GIG

I did a background-talking gig. I read blog posts at a real estate convention while guests ate salads and drank, and ignored me. I should have played music. I said to the crowd, “Hi, I’m going to tell you how to manage real estate.”  The crowd listened for about five seconds, but nobody wanted to hear narrative comedy (a la David Sedaris) during cocktails. Also, I wasn’t properly introduced. I had to blurt out over the clanging of silverware, “Hi, everybody!”

That was my one-and-only background-talking gig. I have, however, done a lot of background-music gigs.

background talking gig

My essay “My Son the Sort-of Rock Star” was in the Washington Post, online, on Monday.

All rock stars. (2011 pic)

Which one is the sort-of rock star? (2011 pic)

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June 1, 2016   7 Comments

GIORA FEIDMAN

Klezmer clarinetist Giora Feidman plays well and is a master of special effects. However, “L’Academie Klezmér” shuns him. Feidman’s nickname is Mr. Chalk-Chalk. (In Yiddish that’s Tshok-Tshok.) This onomatopoetic expression refers to Feidman’s guttural-sounding notes. feidmanMembers of L’Academie (like some teachers at KlezKanada and the late KlezKamp) decry Feidman’s frequent clarinet hiccupping, yelping, slurping and grepsing.

Feidman helped start the klezmer revival. He played Carnegie Hall in 1981. I interviewed Feidman in the early 1990s for the Cleveland Jewish News and asked him to take potshots at other klezmer musicians, some of whom were bad-rapping him. Feidman declined. Feidman said klezmer music is “not a particular kind of music. It is a language of the inner soul — a truly universal means of communication.” I tried to get him beyond that feel-good stuff, to trash-talk, but no dice.

Feidman often plays with a string-bass player and an acoustic guitarist. He plays West Side Story tunes, American swing, Meron nigunim and klezmer. Not many clarinets are that versatile. He does 90-minute shows, playing lead the whole time.

Feidman turns 80 on Saturday. He will get into L’Academie Klezmér posthumously.

Giora Feidman, circa 2015. (Photo by Felix Broede)

Giora Feidman, circa 2015. (Photo by Felix Broede)

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March 23, 2016   5 Comments

A DEAL IS A DEAL

At his 90th birthday party, Mort Gross talked about real estate. (Yiddishe Cup played Mort’s party.) Mort sounded like my dad, except Mort was a lot richer, lived a lot longer than my dad, and was more outgoing and more philanthropic than my dad. Mort developed properties; my dad never did that. Mort had a yacht in Florida and a Rolls Royce. My dad never got beyond Buick.

a deal is a deal mort gross

Mort had three favorite expressions: 1) A deal is a deal  2) Wait a minute [to kill a deal], and  3) Don’t do paperwork twice.  I learned this at the party.

I didn’t understand item #3, and I forgot to ask the person who did the roast for an explanation of item #3 — “Don’t do paperwork twice.”  I said to  one of Mort’s son, “Those were very good toasts, and I’ve heard hundreds.”

Maybe the toasts were sappy, and I was just thinking about my dad a lot. A second son toasted, “Our parents instilled in all of us a love of Judaism, and we all married Jewish girls. In fact I did it twice.”

I’m telling you, they were good toasts.

I had a piece in the New York Times 3/12/16. “I’m not Evil.  I’m a Landlord.”  Check out the comments in the post below, “For NYT Readers.”  The comments are good!

 

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March 16, 2016   1 Comment

BIO NOTE

My mother taught me the cha-cha, not the hora. We were very assimilated. We hung stockings at Christmas. No tree though!

klezmer eggs  easter

I got into klezmer in 1980, when I first heard the record Mickey Katz Plays Music for Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and Brisses. (Reissued in 1994 as Simcha Time.) My mother was from Yazoo City, Mississippi, but we weren’t blues people — for sure. We didn’t listen to much music around the house. My sister had a handful of 45s. I bought one record growing up: “Small Sad Sam,” a parody of “Big Bad John.” The lyrics were “Here’s a tale of a man who was puny and weak, stood four-foot-six in his stocking feet.” (Phil McLean, 1961).  I’ve always favored comedy.

My freshman year at college, I bought The Greatest Hits of Miles Davis, The Greatest Hits of Thelonius Monk, The Bebop Era, and Bechet of New Orleans. I bought the records from a sewing-machine store owner — a friend of my father. I bought the albums after reading Blues People and Black Music by Leroi Jones.  I wrote music reviews for the Michigan Daily my sophomore year, and I was a macher at the first Ann Arbor Blues Festival.

At college I heard Texas blues man Mance Lipscomb  and was overwhelmed by his  down-home, salt-of-the-earth presence and his music. Mickey Katz became my Jewish Mance Lipscomb. Bonus points for Katz; he was funny. Katz: “My kugel is hot for Xavier Cugat.”

In South Euclid, Ohio, at Jack Saul’s house, I heard many Katz parody records. Jack lent out his recordings to the Kleveland Klezmorim in the early ’80s, when klez recordings were hard to come by. Jack had Lee Tully’s Seltzer on the Rocks, the Barton Brothers, Belle Barth, Leo Fuchs and Eli Basse. Jack had multiple copies of most albums. He even had a record by Sam Liberman, a klezmer musician from Argentina.

Yiddishe Cup started in 1988. Enough.

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December 9, 2015   2 Comments

AN ABOVE-AVERAGE JEW

About 20 Geauga County kids put on “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” a play about the Theresienstadt concentration camp. I spoke to the actors at their theater in Chardon, Ohio.  “My voice is blown out. I destroyed it at a gig [at Nighttown],” I said. And I had no mic to talk to the kids. I figured they’d be obnoxious, but they weren’t. I explained what a Jew is. (On one foot.)

They sang a Theresienstadt-based song for me. I asked  them who, in their world, was the most famous Jew. I thought they would say Jesus. The answer: Billy Crystal.

The kids wanted to know about “the beanie “/ the hat / the yarmulke. I said the beanie (which I don’t wear outside of shul) shows the Jew’s humbleness, vis a vis God. Was I right?  I gave the actors a couple Yiddishe Cup CDs and said, “The people at Terezin didn’t listen to klezmer music but enjoy these CDs anyway.”

Was I extremely Jewish? No. But I was above average!

On One Foot

On one foot

 

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October 28, 2015   4 Comments

THE COOLEST GUY
IN YIDDISHE CUP

I’ve had musicians quit Yiddishe Cup. I’ve fired guys from Yiddishe Cup. I’ve never had anybody retire from Yiddishe Cup — until now. Don Friedman, Yiddishe Cup’s drummer, hung it up after 17 years. Thanks for everything, Don!  You showed up on time, were easy to get along with, and played well. What more could a bandleader ask for?

Here’s Don turning in his bass drum heads. (Followed by a Don-is-god post from 2/27/13.)

DON FRIEdman turns in his gear 10_8_15  outside corky and lenny's

Don Friedman turns in his gear 10/8/15.

————–

Yiddishe Cup’s drummer, Don Friedman, also goes by the name Donny Mann (as in “Shelly Manne” and “Herbie Mann” — fellow yids).

“Donny Mann,” the name, started back in pre-history — the 1970s.  “Jan Paderewski gave me the name when we were playing five nights a week at the Blue Fox Restaurant in 1974,” Don said. “Talk about wiseguys.  It was all Mafia guys at the bar.”

“Jan Paderewski?” I said.

“Yes. His parents were musicians. They played a lot in Little Italy.”

Jan Paderewski’s great, great uncle was the Jan Paderewski, the Polish pianist and statesman.  Jan Paderewski of Cleveland was a stand-up comedian, restaurant owner and pianist. He played light classical and standards.

“Donny Mann” 2011

Donny Mann attended Berklee in 1961 — when Berklee was just one building with a couple hundred students. Donny dropped out. That was the idea: drop out and play gigs. (Still is.)

Donny Mann’s first pro gig was at age 16 in his hometown, Erie, Pennsylvania. Don played with the Stardusters  (piano, accordion, alto, and drums) every Saturday night at the American Legion Hall.  Tunes like “Poinciana” and “Moonlight in Vermont.”

“I heard ‘The House of Blue Lights’ in the late 1950s,” Don said. “That drove me nuts. I loved it.”

Don worked in a hat store in Erie — “My first encounter with retail,” he said.  Don eventually worked in a men’s clothing store in Cleveland.  And he listened to jazz — Gene Krupa through Tony Williams.  “I shied away from rock and roll.  It was primitive to me.”

“I wasn’t crazy about New York,” Don said.  “Cleveland was the big-time, being from Erie. In the 1950s and 1960s, Cleveland was the big-time — look out, Jimmy Brown!  In Erie, I rooted for the Browns, not the Steelers.”

Don worked at Rogers Drums in Cleveland, beginning in 1965.  He sold drums and musical-accessory chazerai to mom-and-pop music stores, and he gigged at night.  “Every other word I said was hip. ‘I’m hip, man.’  I used that too much.  I try not to say it nowadays, but it’s hard.”

Don hung out at the Theatrical Restaurant. “I was never in the section where you ordered the expensive steaks,” Don said.  “I sat at the bar.”  He sat behind the featured drummer, behind the bandstand — the best place to watch the drummers’ hands and feet. He saw Cozy Cole, Papa Jo Jones (“He wore white socks”) and Louie Bellson.

“Bob McKee, the house drummer, played a blue onyx Rogers. All the drummers loved that set. It had Swiv-O-Matic hardware. The Japanese copied it. Bobby still has the set in his basement. He’s in his eighties now.

“Philly Joe Jones was at the Theatrical, too.  He was more modern than Papa Jo. Buddy Rich was there. Gino was there too.  Gino was a bit past his prime —  past his fame.”

“Gino who?” I said.

“Gene Krupa. Everybody called him Gino.”

 . . .Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together and welcome the coolest guy in Yiddishe Cup, the one and only Donny Mann!

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October 21, 2015   9 Comments

SOME BREROS

In Dallas, at a gig, I stopped at a taco shop to check out Mexican drinks. The taco shop had orange, carrot, horchata, mango, guava and sidral (apple) drinks, as well as Mexican Coke, which is sweeter than American Coke. My Spanish was OK until the clerk asked para aqui o llevar? (“For here or to go?”)

In Cleveland, Yiddishe Cup played a wedding for an Ecuadorean family. I was supposed to say in Spanish: “You will probably see people seated in chairs in the wind.” That was for the chair lifting / “Hava Nagila.” We also played a mariachi song, “El Rey,” which had the lyrics “I always do what I want and my word is the law.” Like Dion’s “The Wanderer.” (The couple eventually got divorced.)

Yiddishe Cup’s most Hispanic moment was when we played “La Bamba” for about 2,000 Hispanics at an outdoor concert in a park on the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas. We put Hebrew lyrics in “La Bamba.”

I wish we played more Hispanic gigs. Last week at a Simchat Torah luncheon, I ran into a Cuban Jew who asked for “Guantanamera.” That’s as good as it gets here, Hispanically speaking. Not good enough! I’ll have to visit Latin America again.

Some breros

Some breros

—-

Read the rave review of Vulfpeck’s new record, Thrill of the Arts, in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Years ago Barry Cik, a local bandleader, talked a lot about his son Yehuda’s music career. I thought, “Barry has a music career of his own, doesn’t he? Why is he talking so much about his son.” My apologies, Barry!

Check out Jim Fusilli, the renowned Wall Street Journal reviewer . . .

liner notes

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October 14, 2015   1 Comment

DELUXE PORT-A-POTTIES

I’ve seen deluxe port-a-potties. One was at a wedding on Fairmount Boulevard, Hunting Valley, and the second was at a wedding on South Park Boulevard, Shaker Heights. At the Fairmount Boulevard wedding, the hired help outnumbered the guests 3-to-1. There were only 30 guests. The port-a-potty had a flush toilet, vanity sink, flowers in a bowl, a roll of paper towels, and extra toilet paper. And this was just for the help. The guests used the bathrooms in the house.

port a pottiesAt the South Park Boulevard wedding, the band shared the port-a-potties with the guests. We played the ceremony, cocktail hour, and a hora. Then a second band took over. We frequently get kicked out for another band, which is usually from New York, Nashville, New Orleans or Detroit. The further away the better, prestige-wise.

Dual flush: 1) Yiddishe Cup. 2) Yiddishe Cup + solid waste (of money) for second band.

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September 16, 2015   4 Comments

NICHE OF NICHES

Bob Berkman lectured on the roll of the player piano roll in Jewish music. Berkman used to work at a player piano company in Buffalo, New York. The company made piano rolls until 2009. The last Jewish piano roll rolled out in 1980. It was “The Theme from Exodus” by Ferrante and Teicher. Berkman said there are about 800 Jewish piano-roll titles out there. He has 256.

Berkman’s mother was at the lecture, in Cleveland at a temple sisterhood. His mother lives in Cleveland. Bob had a power point and had rented a grand piano. He hooked up his Pianola player piano to the grand piano. I bet Bob took a financial bath on that presentation. (I know about sisterhood budgets.) I think he did the presentation just for his mom. Bob played everything from “The Shtiler Bulgar” to “Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn.” He asked me where might he perform next. I wasn’t sure.

Niche of niches.

piano roll  muffins

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5KMKuD6b2M

Bob Berkman

(Bob’s website is here. Book him!)

Yiddishe Cup plays the Medina (Ohio) International Fest 2:30 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 22). Free.

best band yiddishe cup

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August 19, 2015   6 Comments

BANK HASSLE No. 100

I got a certified letter saying Yiddishe Cup’s checking account was terminated.

Shutting me down after 19 years? For what?

“Due to continuing regulatory requirements associated with the corresponding bank account, Huntington Bank is closing all checking and saving accounts in the name of YIDDISHE CUP KLEZMER BANK.”

How would my bandmates get paid? Should I move my checking account to PNC? I can’t go to a place that is initials. CVS is bad enough (for aspirin).

I went to the Huntington branch and talked to a senior banker, Dave. I thought he was the head cheese. Dave read my certified letter and sent me over to Sam, the real senior banker, who had a secluded office in the rear of the bank.

Sam was black. I said to him, “I got to tell you, I remember it like yesterday, I started this account and the banker was Ervin Mason, a black guy in his twenties, and he knew what klezmer was. He had heard of Don Byron. Do you know what klezmer is?”

“No,” Sam said.

“Erv knew! Let’s call him right now and see if he remembers me. Is he still at Huntington?” (Sam checked. Erv was gone.) “Back then,” I said, “Huntington misprinted my checks as Yiddishe Cup Klezmer Bank. I kept the Bank as a joke. So maybe that has something to do with this mix up. ”

check BEST2

Sam then called Jared, a commercial portfolio manager in Columbus. Jared said Yiddishe Cup was listed as a “financial institution.”  “That’s the problem,” Sam said. “We thought you were a bank. You’d have more money in your account if you were a real bank!”

“True.”

“We got that squared,” Sam said.

I hope so.

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July 29, 2015   4 Comments