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Yale Strom wants more on his plate than Hot Pstromi

“I lost over $30,000 worth of work”

Yale Strom isn’t just fiddling around; he’s also making movies.
Yale Strom isn’t just fiddling around; he’s also making movies.

Calling Yale Strom a polymath somehow seems inadequate. He’s a violinist, composer, educator, author (working on his 15th book), award-winning documentary director, playwright, and now, the latest inductee to the San Diego Music Hall of Fame. (The November ceremony also celebrated local institutions like the Beat Farmers, Lisa Sanders, Bob Taylor & Kurt Listug, The Deering Family, and the late DJ Carlos Culture.) “I got a call at the end of August from [San Diego Music Hall of Fame founder] Jefferson Jay,” says Strom. “I didn’t recognize the number, and these days you never know, but luckily, I didn’t delete it. I was quite surprised. It’s a young institution here in San Diego, but there always has to be a beginning to everything. I looked at some of the past inductees, and there were some huge names, like Charles McPherson and Walt Richards. Charles is a jazz legend, and Richards is an institution of country and bluegrass music.”

Strom specializes in Klezmer and other forms of Eastern European music, which some might classify as “niche” markets, so he wasn’t sure how his name came up. “He told me that they were looking for someone who was known for giving to the community, but also with an international presence. And I do have that. Wherever I go, people have read my books and know my music, and I’ve played all over the world.”

Strom’s band Hot Pstromi played a short set after the Hall of Fame ceremony intermission. ”We brought the house down and got a standing ovation. When I got offstage and walked back to my seat, a woman came up to me who said she had never heard this kind of music, but that it was amazing and kicked ass. She wanted to know where she could get some CDs. I felt good about converting some people.”

Strom is active in many forms of media; is there a unifying thread that connects them all? “There is an Eastern European Jewish context and a connection with the Roma culture, but beyond that, music itself has been the thread through my films, books, plays and photography. It’s all about the power of music, which is the universal language.”

Like everyone else, he suffered during the pandemic. “It was bad. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I lost over $30,000 worth of work. In the last six months, things have picked up, but some of that work is gone forever. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of live performances. I’m hoping to go to Europe in the spring or early summer, but even that isn’t certain because there may be another wave of covid. There are a lot of anti-vax people and it boggles my mind, the stupidity of humanity.”

Meanwhile, Strom is busy finishing up his latest documentary, Recordially Yours, an homage to the late San Diego folk and roots music raconteur Lou Curtiss, who owned Folk Arts Rare Records and organized the San Diego Folk Festival for many years. Curtiss was a big influence on Tom Waits and Jack Tempchin, among many others.

Past Event

Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi

“I hope the film will go beyond San Diego County to festivals at other parts of the country. I knew Lou a little bit, but I didn’t realize the breadth of his influence, because he didn’t brag. He didn’t put himself out front. But his knowledge of music and the people he knew was just amazing.”

You can catch Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi on December 21 at downtown’s San Diego Repertory Theatre. There will be a film benefit concert for Recordially Yours on January 29 at Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad.

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Yale Strom isn’t just fiddling around; he’s also making movies.
Yale Strom isn’t just fiddling around; he’s also making movies.

Calling Yale Strom a polymath somehow seems inadequate. He’s a violinist, composer, educator, author (working on his 15th book), award-winning documentary director, playwright, and now, the latest inductee to the San Diego Music Hall of Fame. (The November ceremony also celebrated local institutions like the Beat Farmers, Lisa Sanders, Bob Taylor & Kurt Listug, The Deering Family, and the late DJ Carlos Culture.) “I got a call at the end of August from [San Diego Music Hall of Fame founder] Jefferson Jay,” says Strom. “I didn’t recognize the number, and these days you never know, but luckily, I didn’t delete it. I was quite surprised. It’s a young institution here in San Diego, but there always has to be a beginning to everything. I looked at some of the past inductees, and there were some huge names, like Charles McPherson and Walt Richards. Charles is a jazz legend, and Richards is an institution of country and bluegrass music.”

Strom specializes in Klezmer and other forms of Eastern European music, which some might classify as “niche” markets, so he wasn’t sure how his name came up. “He told me that they were looking for someone who was known for giving to the community, but also with an international presence. And I do have that. Wherever I go, people have read my books and know my music, and I’ve played all over the world.”

Strom’s band Hot Pstromi played a short set after the Hall of Fame ceremony intermission. ”We brought the house down and got a standing ovation. When I got offstage and walked back to my seat, a woman came up to me who said she had never heard this kind of music, but that it was amazing and kicked ass. She wanted to know where she could get some CDs. I felt good about converting some people.”

Strom is active in many forms of media; is there a unifying thread that connects them all? “There is an Eastern European Jewish context and a connection with the Roma culture, but beyond that, music itself has been the thread through my films, books, plays and photography. It’s all about the power of music, which is the universal language.”

Like everyone else, he suffered during the pandemic. “It was bad. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I lost over $30,000 worth of work. In the last six months, things have picked up, but some of that work is gone forever. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of live performances. I’m hoping to go to Europe in the spring or early summer, but even that isn’t certain because there may be another wave of covid. There are a lot of anti-vax people and it boggles my mind, the stupidity of humanity.”

Meanwhile, Strom is busy finishing up his latest documentary, Recordially Yours, an homage to the late San Diego folk and roots music raconteur Lou Curtiss, who owned Folk Arts Rare Records and organized the San Diego Folk Festival for many years. Curtiss was a big influence on Tom Waits and Jack Tempchin, among many others.

Past Event

Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi

“I hope the film will go beyond San Diego County to festivals at other parts of the country. I knew Lou a little bit, but I didn’t realize the breadth of his influence, because he didn’t brag. He didn’t put himself out front. But his knowledge of music and the people he knew was just amazing.”

You can catch Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi on December 21 at downtown’s San Diego Repertory Theatre. There will be a film benefit concert for Recordially Yours on January 29 at Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad.

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