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Phoenix's Jerusafunk Is the World's First Klezploitation Band

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Jerusafunk's origins begin with lovebirds Jessie Demaree (clarinet) and Chris Del Favero (guitar, vocals), who have been dating for five years. They founded the band in Flagstaff four years ago while students at Northern Arizona University, then briefly moved to Phoenix, where they joined forces with Isaac "Ike" Parker (bass) and Bryce Broome (drums, percussion). In true Gypsy spirit, the lovers took a two-year schlep around South America, returning fresh to the States in January.

"This music culture we have in Phoenix has been more interesting than some of the other music cultures we experienced while we were traveling. It's just a lot more progressive and has a lot more ballsy initiative," Del Favero says, which is kind of surprising to hear. "Being in like Bógota or Panama City, it was all still kind of, I don't want to say 10 years behind, but we saw a lot of jazz there, and some of their progressive jazz there was a bit mild compared to stuff we've already seen here. Which is why we stay here [in Phoenix.]"

Back in the Valley, the couple almost immediately started Jerusafunk again. This third incarnation wasted no time gigging like hell, playing everywhere from Parliament to Firehouse Gallery's Share Fire Festival to Bacchus and the Demon Slut's album release at Lawn Gnome Publishing. Yet, Demaree is quick to highlight the band's more blithe performances, such as the time they all played naked: "We got the cops called on us at a house show in Tempe, and we were like, fuck it, let's go to our house, have a little after-party."

"Well, it was really just a party," Elliot Fox (tenor sax, flute, bass clarinet) chimes in. "Can't call it a party since the real party got canceled before we played. We just relocated."

"And proceeded to get naked," Demaree emphasizes. "We were all topless. Chris was representing the fully nude."

Au naturel performances aside, it's clear Jerusafunk is working hard. It comes as little surprise that Jerusafunk already is planning a Southwest tour at the beginning of the year and hopes to release an EP, followed by a full-length album, sometime soon. The EP was yet to be titled, until the band decided on the spot to go with Sweat and Glitter. How often do you get to witness a band name its upcoming release?

"You got it first, New Times," Del Favero chuckles. "It's going to be the biggest thing ever. That's all we can say. Like [Alejandro] Jodorowsky's Dune." Isaac's brother, Zach Parker (guitar), adds, "But it's going to be completed."

Let's hope so, as Jerusafunk is not only one of the most original bands in town, it's one of the most fun. The band claims five original songs and six original "arrangements" (a term the band prefers to "covers"). The music sounds vaguely familiar (especially if you've seen Fiddler on the Roof) yet different and exciting. And you can't help dancing.

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah