Student band celebrates release of first album
Since seventh grade, arts and humanities senior and drummer John Nowak has been making music with arts and humanities senior and guitarist Isaac Berkowitz.
Now, with MSU graduation rapidly approaching, Nowak and Berkowitz have high hopes for their band, the student group Desmond Jones.
On Friday night The Avenue in Lansing thrummed with the music of Desmond Jones.
The night was in celebration of their newly released and very first EP.
Nowak got his first drum for his third birthday. Music has been a part of his life ever since. Berkowitz picked up his grandfather’s guitar at a young age, and this sparked his passion for music.
In high school, Nowak and Berkowitz had a band, but things died down once they came to MSU. They continued to write their own music in the hopes that an opportunity would present itself.
Soon enough, they were asked by some high school classmates to perform at a house party.
As freshmen, Nowak and Berkowitz were thrilled at the chance to play and quickly got a last-minute group together.
One of these musicians was guitarist Chris Bota, who is now a permanent member of the Desmond Jones band.
Bota’s passion for music has been going strong, since he began playing the piano at 5 years old.
In high school he picked up the guitar, and he said at the age of 17 music became something that he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
Nowak said since the band came together, they became best friends, and have loved making music together.
“We all have our own personal influences and we listen to a wide variety of things,” Nowak said. “We have different backgrounds, so when we come together in a creative process we’re creating this unique blend of musical genres and I think that’s something that is really cool about our music.”
He said the best part of getting to play live music is the crowd.
“We want to create an environment where everyone is having a good time, where everyone feels like they’re a part of our music because they are,” Nowak said.
He said looking out and seeing everyone dancing and smiling makes what he does a rewarding experience.
Berkowitz said playing in front of a live audience really makes him get into the performance, because with the crowd it’s a give and take relationship.
“If it’s a good crowd then you’re going to be feeling great,” Berkowitz said.
He said they like to do a lot of improvisation during live performances to change it up for the crowd.
“You can go to multiple shows in a week and it will be different every time,” Berkowitz said.
Bota said this improvisation allows the crowd to really feed off what the band is doing in the moment.
“It becomes this circle of music influences that goes throughout the show,” Bota said.
For him, the best part of a live audience is allowing himself to share his art and his emotions with the world.
“I think of music as an emotional language, so it’s cool to let myself out and my passion out to the crowd,” Bota said.
After graduation, Desmond Jones plans on setting up in Grand Rapids.
From there, they hope to expand their fan base to different areas of the country and go on tour.
“We really want to go for it and see how far our talents and hard work can take us,” Nowak said.
Desmond Jones will be performing again April 8 in Grand Rapids, April 11 in Mt. Pleasant, and April 23 at the Loft in Lansing.
To see a video of Desmond Jones’ performance, visit statenews.com/multimedia.