Life (And Music) Goes On for East Lansing Band Desmond Jones

We’re lucky to live in a region where there’s a diverse range of music. On any given night, you can hear the sounds of a rock band, blues band, jazz band or even a folk band.

On Friday night, get yourself on down to the Avenue and you’ll hear all of those in the form of one band. East Lansing’s own Desmond Jones is having an album release party celebrating its public release of its second EP “Thick Cuts.”

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Courtesy photo. Desmond Jones members(L to R) Isaac Berkowitz, John Nowak, Chris Bota, George Falk, John Loria

Three-fifths of the band spoke with me about the upcoming release party, their dream concert lineups and their hopes for an even bigger Michigan music scene.

Desmond Jones is a funky, energetic group of five guys. John Nowak (drums, vocals), John Loria (bass), George Falk (saxophone, vocals), Chris Bota (guitar, vocals) and Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, vocals) make up this East-Lansing based band. Self-described as a “group of weirdos,” the band draws from a range of musical backgrounds.

Some of its members have had music classes since they were young, and some self-taught themselves in the dorms of MSU.

Saxophone player George Falk likes to consider the band “glam jam,” but it’s hard to define what Desmond Jones is. “We have a bunch of different musical influences and that really does come out in our music.Saying that we’re a funk jazz fusion band definitely doesn’t fully describe our sound,” Nowak said.

“There are some songs that don’t sound anything like the rest of our songs. That is because all five of us have actually written songs for the band. When you get five different songwriters and five different people collaborating on songs, you’re going to get those different influences. Certain songs are going to have different feels or styles to them.”

Regardless of their musical backgrounds differing, they share a commonality through the band which has become a family. John Nowak spoke about how close the band is, even off the stage.

“We’re like five best friend brothers,” Nowak said. “I couldn’t think of a better group of people to play music with. Anytime we’re not playing music, we’re still all hanging out.” All that time together could result in problems, but Nowak assures “band drama is incredibly limited.”

This group of guys is just a lighthearted bunch. “We all just like to have fun and I think that comes out in our music and the time we spend together,” Nowak said. While fun is certainly had, and the band encourages plenty of dancing and good times at their live shows, that’s not to say business isn’t taken care of. Despite being just in their early twenties, and only being a band for short of three years, Desmond Jones conducts themselves in a professional manner.

“We try to work in a way that you wouldn’t expect 20-25 year old musicians to conduct themselves,” Nowak said. “And I think that is something that’s valued by the venues and the people we work with.”

“And if we get to play a really fun opening set before a killer act that signed a blue note, than all the better,” said Falk.

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Four members of Desmond Jones stopped by WLNZ 89.7 for a live in-studio interview and to perform a few acoustic songs.

The band’s first show was opening up for Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, a Michigan band featured on David Letterman’s show. They’ve also opened up for The Verve Pipe, Frontier Ruckus and Dopapod.

While they’ve been happy to land sold-out shows at The Intersection, and a sizable portion of upcoming gigs around the area, the band dreams of even bigger better things.

“I have hopes and dreams of Michigan’s scene becoming much more than what it is right now,” Nowak said. “It takes time to get there and I think scenes come in waves.”

Falk added, “There are also a lot of awesome people who are willing to come out to shows. The fact that there is a community of people in Lansing, a community of people in Grand Rapids and we found a community of people in Mount Pleasant that all want to go out, see live music and have a good time … Just the fact that there are those people out there makes such a scene a possibility.”

The rate Desmond Jones is making the media rounds, promoting their new EP “Thick Cuts” and booking shows, the future looks bright.

“The last couple months have really picked up for us,” Nowak said. “And it’s something we feel with the way we’re going right now and the momentum that we have we’re really hoping that in a year or so we’ll be able to practice and tour full time.”

But in the mean time, like the band’s name- a Beatles reference, life goes on. It’s school, work and music. THE EP Release Party is this Friday, March 20 at the Avenue Café in Lansing, MI.

Doors open at 8 p.m. Low Spark is the opener. Tickets are $5 presale( through Desmond Jones Facebook), and $8 at the door. There will be live art and t-shirts. Event info here.

“We’re hoping to pack the place,” Nowak said. “It’s the first time we’ve ever released a CD to the public.” Even if you can’t catch the release party, “Thick Cuts” will be available on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon for purchase.

“It’s super exciting. It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a journey and a process but March 20th is going to be the day hopefully. We’ve spent like every single dollar we have on this show so we’re hoping it will all come back in full force for us,” Nowak said.

Come on out and #showsupport for some Michigan music. For more information, contact Desmond Jones via Facebook.

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