Funky Fivesome is Jonesin' for Good Friends &
Story by LCC Radio Reporter Sarah Spohn
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
“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
Desmond Jones is a full-time plan with a full range of sound, one that’s hard to
“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 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.”
Music 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.”
FREE LOCAL LUNCH SAMPLE
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