When I go to "shivas" (houses of mourning), people sometimes say, "I know you, but from where?"
"I'm the klezmer guy," I say.
That solves that.
It's good to be a guy . . . a klezmer guy, computer guy, cable guy.
How to be a klezmer guy: lead a klezmer band in your hometown for 20+ years.
Yiddishe Cup plays all over, but its main territory is the Midwest: Ohio, Michigan . . . any place rusty.
But we do occasionally loosen up. We use Jewish WD-40 -- schmaltz. (But we're not schmaltzy. Please-e-e, we're not schmaltzy! We're the coolest band you ever heard.)
Get unctuous with Yiddishe Cup. Crank it up safely witht the klezmer guys. Yiddishe Cup, will even check your coolant level for free.
Yo, what about the band’s artistic levels?
Instrumental klez? Check, good. Original compositions? Check, good. Klez fusion? All right. Neo-Borscht Belt comedy? Very good!
"Gut" to go.
P.S. Most of the cuts on this album are live.
P.P.S. Review from the PIttsburgh Jewish Chronicle, 7/15/09, by Lee Chottiner:
Have you ever imagined a klezmer band that includes Mel Brooks, Don Ho, Soupy Sales and Bobby McFerrin?
No, of course you haven’t. But it gives you an idea what to expect from the latest CD by Cleveland-based klezmer band Yiddishe Cup. It’s titled “Klezmer Guy.”
This septet gives new meaning to the phrase, “don’t take yourself too seriously.” Many of the lyrics are zany and the between-songs bantering from the bandleader, Bert Stratton, and his cohorts is fun to listen to. (Do they really think they’re not cool?)
But all their on-stage antics aside, this is a very tight band of professional, creative musicians who demonstrate that klezmer is klezmer, no matter what musical arrangements or instruments are used. These hybrid songs might even net some new fans.
For instance, “Klezmer Guy” includes a Hawaiian version of the popular Israeli song “Hallelujah,” complete with steel guitar.
“Kol Rino” (The Sound of Joy), a well-known Yiddish wedding song made especially popular by Brave Old World, gets a fresh, more contemporary treatment here.
The band’s zaniness is on full display during its rendition of “Pachalafaka,” the meaning of which, the singer admits he doesn’t know. (Or does he?)
There’s a sci-fi medley on the album. The classical Yiddish “Anim Zemiros” is punched up with yodeling reminiscent of the 1970’s Dutch rock band Focus and some vocal exercising on “Circles and Arches” worthy of a capella great McFerrin.
But the best track on the CD isn’t even a song, though it has a bizarre sort of rhythm. At the end of the album, the band attaches a voicemail message it received from a fan in Brooklyn that simply can’t be described. You must listen to it to believe it.
“Klezmer Guy” is no Grammy winner, but it’s a fun album by a solid group of performers. To say enjoy would be superfluous.