To say Weehawken resident Matt Chertkoff likes hot dogs is an understatement. The musician, who sings under the name McSAPRR, an acronym for “Matt Chertkoff sings and plays rock and roll,” performed at eight locations in seven hours at area hot dog establishments on July 1 to celebrate National Hot Dog Month and to promote the release of his first CD: “Hot Dog Rock: It’s For Real.”
Chertkoff, a trained jazz guitarist, strayed from an education he received from the University of Miami, one of the most prominent jazz programs in the country, to write his satirical tunes about processed meat.
“People love the break dancing hot dog.” – Matt Chertkoff
“I basically ate a hot dog at every show,” he said. “This is my month, and with the first record I wanted to do something big and crazy.”
The hot dog enthusiast doesn’t always sing about wieners. His career as a jazz guitarist has taken him to some of Manhattan’s hippest jazz spots like the Blue Note, Smoke, and Irving Plaza.
“The music is more sophisticated than you would think,” he said. “But the lyrics are all about hot dogs.”
If this all seems a bit strange, it’s supposed to. Chertkoff likens himself and his music to “Weird Al” Yankovic, a song parodist who writes funny lyrics to hit songs. Yankovic also has composed polka medleys.
“The idea just kind of popped up,” Chertkoff said, “and I thought, ‘That’s what everyone will love’. The more I started working on the record, the more obsessed I became.”
The singer has no problem with hamburgers, but said, “I really do enjoy eating hot dogs.”
Chertkoff and his band, usually consisting of a keyboardist, a drummer, and a bassist, are often accompanied at frankfurter-related performances by a “break dancing hot dog” – or, a man break dancing in a hot dog suit.
“People love the break dancing hot dog,” he said. He found the performer after placing an ad on Craigslist.
The dancer performed alongside McSAPRR during his marathon performance last July 1. He is also featured in a low-quality yet viral music video on McSAPRR’s website: www.hotdogrock.com.
Chertkoff, a Ridgewood native, lived for six years in Miami while attending the University of Miami, and played jazz gigs around the city.
“The University of Miami is a pretty serious music conservatory,” he said. “One of the three or four best in the country.”
But after living the dream in southern Florida, Chertkoff had to come back to his native New Jersey.
“Miami is a lazy person’s paradise,” he said. “You can get by and really enjoy yourself, but it’s definitely hard to improve yourself.”
Why did he settle down in Weehawken?
“Weehawken’s great,” he said. “You’re like four blocks from Manhattan and still have a backyard and a driveway.”
Sean Allocca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org