the Caribbean on a Clarinet Solo a Day

July 27th, 2012
by Michael Armstrong

[private] Chris Del Favero, a former music student, was working as a barista at an espresso bar in Phoenix, Arizona, when he met Jessie Demaree, also a music student, working in a burrito shop. The two clicked, both romantically and musically, with Demaree’s Klezmer clarinet  oddly meshing with Del Favero’s gypsy funk guitar. They called themselves Jerusafunk.

Jerusafunk (Chris Del Favero and Jessie Demaree) perform at Sundowners in West End, Roatan, July 11.

Jerusafunk (Chris Del Favero and Jessie Demaree) perform at Sundowners in West End, Roatan, July 11.

Five months ago, bored with Arizona and wanting to flee the “inevitable downfall of America,” they took Jerusafunk on the road (and on the water). With little more than their instruments and the clothes on their backs, they drove to Florida and caught a flight to Guatemala. They’ve been living day-to-day ever since, getting short gigs at small clubs in tourist enclaves, never knowing what will come next. And they have no intention of turning back.

“America needs to chill out,” said Del Favero, explaining their reasons for hitting the Central American circuit. And the pair have been impressed with the “chill and laid-back” life on Roatan since arriving in June. They’ve been appearing at bars, restaurants and clubs, mostly in West End, almost nightly, and camping in a friend’s yard near the Barefeet Bar and Grill. The Voice caught up to them at Sundowners between sets July 11.

Jerusafunk describe their musical style as “old- school, sexified Jewish dinner dance music.” Musical influences include Abraham Inc., Miles Davis and Go-Gol Bordello.

“We’re expanding your mind beyond your local discotech,” said Del Favero.

After performing all around Guatemala, Del Favero and Demaree met a sailboat captain who agreed to take them on as crew and take them to Honduras. They encountered storms and turbulent waters along the way.

“You learn the pros and cons of freedom” on a sailboat, said Del Favero. “You could never be 100 percent asleep, because you had to be ready for anything.”

“Mother Nature knows no mercy” Demaree added. But they found the sailboat to be an eco-friendly and economically sound choice, and relaxing when the storms let up.

Jerusafunk 2They toured the Honduran mainland, where Demaree was mesmerized by the sight of macaws flying overhead as the sun rose at Copan. After performing at various cities on the mainland, they set sail again, for Utila, where they said they played for wild and ecstatic crowds (and it wasn’t even Sunjam yet).

From Utila they sailed to Roatan, where they have enjoyed the local hospitality, with the exception of Jessie’s passport getting stolen.

Asked how long they planned to remain wayfaring troubadours, Demaree replied it was a way of life. “This is how it always will be,” she said. She plans to seek out other musical vagabonds to expand the ensemble. [/private]

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