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M897 Artist Spotlight: October 2016

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Funky Fivesome is Jonesin' for Good Friends & Tasty Jams

Story by LCC Radio Reporter Sarah Spohn

Desmond JonesThe typical college experience can vary drastically from person to person. For rock/funk/jazz fusion band Desmond Jones members, school at Michigan State University changed drastically when they met each other and formed a band in East Lansing in 2012.

The five-piece band consists of John Nowak (drums, vocals), John Loria (bass), Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, vocals), George Falk (saxophone, vocals) and thanks their green and white Spartan days for changing their lives.

“The moment we met each other was really the moment we met the guys who would become our best friends, bandmates and brothers for the rest of our collegiate careers,” Nowak said, “which in retrospect, is a huge deal.”

Rather than going out to college-town bars every weekend, the guys were playing shows. Instead of studying, they were practicing. The band soon became the main priority and it was clear that after graduation, that would be the full-time plan.

Desmond Jones is a full-time plan with a full range of sound, one that’s hard to pinpoint exactly.

“We’d be lying if we called ourselves a funk band, because we have bluegrass and country songs. We’d be lying if we called ourselves a fusion band because we have blues, R&B and rock n roll as well.”

Given the band’s lineup of diverse musicians, with influences ranging from Frank Zappa, The Band, Phish, The Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Snarky Puppy, Miles Davis, and D’angelo, their process for songwriting varies also. Each unique member contributes different genres, song types, compositions and styles.

“We never say ‘no’ to a style of song a member brings to the table and that’s one of the things our fans keep coming back for,” Nowak said.

The fans have a special place in the band’s hearts too, with the nickname of the Jonesies. Plenty of the group’s milestones are due in part, thanks to the fans, many whom are now close friends.

Desmond JonesDesmond Jones just celebrated it’s one year anniversary of performing each Monday night at The Tip Top Deluxe in Grand Rapids. The residence gig is just one of the special moments the band has shared together on stage. Nowak spoke about just how grateful the band is for their G.R. gig.

“Our one year birthday party was a very special night. It was packed with 100-150 people for the entire duration the night. It was so fun to see everyone in the crowd that we had met over the last year,” Nowak said. “We had birthday cake, balloons, a poster with all of us as cartoon characters celebrating, and a few special guests join us for some songs. Lucky, proud, and grateful would be a good way to sum it up.”

Desmond Jones has shared the stage opening up for bands like The Verve Pipe, The Werks, Dopapod, and Badfish at sold-out shows at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor’s Blind Pig and Lansing’s Avenue Cafe. Making television appearances on eightWest, securing a tour manager, and booking agent are all recent items the band is grateful to check off it’s to-do list.

“We are so lucky to have put together a dedicated and experienced team of people all working for the greater goal of the band. Nathan Purchase has been tour managing for the last year or so and his contributions to the band are endless and of incredible importance,” Nowak said. His addition to the team has enabled the band to focus on the jams versus the less-fun things.

“He has lifted a great weight off of our shoulders and has allowed us to really focus on the most important thing for us as musicians, the music! He’s grinding everyday with us, and he has become an equal part of the band. We love him.”

Signing with Level Up Management, this funky fivesome is excited to start traveling to the East Coast, getting their feet in new cities, venues and meeting plenty of more Jonesies across the country. Though, they’re amazed each day by Michigan’s own music scene and camaraderie they’ve come to know all throughout the mitten.

“West Michigan has its own thing going on, but so does the East side and everything going on up North with Earthworks as well. Festivals like Hoxeyville, Blissfest, Harvest Gathering, Electric Forest, and more are all really good for the scene,” Nowak said. “I think the most exciting thing is the amount of talent that is right here in our state and the way bands interact with one another. It’s truly a community and everyone benefits from working together and creating a scene that works for everyone. Every single night there is a kickass local music concert going on somewhere. Every genre is covered by Michigan bands. I think it’s only going to get better and stronger in the coming years.”

Desmond JonesMusic is more than a hobby and a job for these self-described-goofy guys, but rather a meaning. The reason remains the same -- living and breathing music is a dream come true for the band.

Two members of Desmond Jones experienced their own divine, defining moment when they were given VIP tickets to a Paul McCartney concert. Considering their name is taken from “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da,” the group isn’t shy to state their love with all things Beatlemania. Band members Isaac and John held up a sign reading, “We named our band Desmond Jones, please don’t sue us! Thank you, Paul, John, George, and Ringo.” Sir Paul played the lighthearted tune and looked at the pair, pointed to the sign and they needless to say, they freaked out.

They also handed Sir Paul’s “people” a Desmond Jones CD and t-shirt, and just the thought of visualizing one of the Beatles in the band’s logo shirt is enough, according to Nowak.

Besides dreams of Macca getting a case of the Jonesies, the band is hoping to record a full-length record, continue touring and giving back.

“We have a long way to go, but the last four years have been nothing short of a dream come true for every one of us. Every show is a unique opportunity for us to give back to our community, to our friends and fans, and to put something positive and exciting into the world,” Nowak said. “We hope our music has had a positive impact on people and look forward to our future as a band.”


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