June 30, 2000
  27 Sivan, 5760





"The great thing about klezmer music is how easily it adapts and reflects the music in the country in which it's played," says Bert Stratton, the innovative, highly spirited leader of Cleveland's own Yiddishe Cup Klezmer Band.

"We as American Jews grew up listening to rock and roll, so it's inevitable rock would have an influence on our band."

Clevelanders can appreciate that influence when they get to dance, clap and rollick to the sounds of Yiddishe Cup in a free Summer in the City concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday, July 5, at 6 p.m.

Fans will enjoy such tunes as "My Yiddishe Mama," made popular by Sophie Tucker, "the last of the red-hot mamas." Only Yiddishe Cup's version has a new twist.

"We rearranged the music," says Stratton. "We were tired of playing that song and having people cry. So we incorporated the blues and a section of a doo-wop melody from the song 'Little Darling' by the '50s band the Diamonds."

"The piece ends with the theme song from "The Patty Duke Show," he adds. "This has been a big hit on college campuses. Our lead singer, Irwin Weinberger, even stomps around the stage, a la Mick Jagger."

Klezmer music is not the only Jewish music that borrows from rock and roll. A Modern Orthodox band called Shlock Rock often parodies American rock songs by using Jewish-oriented lyrics, says Stratton.

"Mickey Katz, the great klezmer artist -- and Joel Grey's father -- was doing that as early as the 1940s," the musician explains.