Desmond Jones elegantly casts twangy lunar magic throughout West Virginia’s sprawling Appalachian Mountains.
The Grand Rapids rock-funk-jazz quintet of John Nowak (drums, vocals), Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, vocals), Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), Taylor Watson (bass) and George Falk (sax, vocals) takes a refreshing vintage country detour on their latest jamboree-filled, celestial single, “Pink Moon.”
“The song is actually named after a music festival that used to be held in West Virginia called ‘The Pink Moon Music Festival.’ The festival was named after the lunar phenomenon we call The Pink Moon, which is a unique yearly full moon that occurred last week,” Bota said.
“I guess you could say it’s a love song I wrote to the moon. It’s meant to be sung while I’m hanging out in the Appalachian Mountains on the outskirts of a small West Virginia mountain town dancing to some wonderful live music under the moon and the stars.”
As a timeless, torchy ode to our favorite pastel-tinged satellite, “Pink Moon” awakens the youthful, nocturnal spirit as swift drums, rich pedal steel, propulsive bass, soulful sax, jubilant mandolin and vigorous violin gallop into a bright summer night.
Bota nostalgically sings, “Once a year, my dear, I’ll spend a night with you/Lookin’ at sunlight through your view/Whistlin’ a tune until the sun’s had enough of you/As you drift into the sky.”
“I wrote the song very late at night five years ago after the second Pink Moon Music Festival that we played and attended. I touched it up over a week or two of playing and singing it solo on my acoustic guitar. We recorded the drums, bass, two guitars and saxophone live at our manager Kevin McKay’s studio in the fall of 2019 three years later,” Bota said.
“The vocals, pedal steel and instrument solos were recorded at everyone’s own homes during the winter of 2020-2021. We have one guest on this track who happens to be one of our favorite Michigan musicians, Don Julin. We had the pleasure to play with Don during two of our sets at the Cowpie Music Festival in 2019, and he agreed to lend his musical talents on this album.”
“Pink Moon” also serves as the first Americana-inspired track off Desmond Jones’ upcoming third-full length album, Why Not? The concept project will explore the band’s deep appreciation for country music and spotlight their spellbinding take on one of music’s most enduring genres.
“We’ve all been exploring and playing different types of American traditional music for most of our lives. This album was a way for us to really hone in and express ourselves through a fusion of the multiple, specific art forms that influenced and make up what we now know today as country music,” Bota said.
“While country music has always been a part of our musical lives, most of our live performances and past studio releases have been a little bit more stylistically dense. We’re used to mashing two or three genres together in one song at times. It was a lot of fun to step back and say, ‘Let’s stick with this specific world of sound for one project and see where it takes us.”
Why Not? will introduce new and longtime Desmond Jones fans to folky, bucolic and frontier-esque tales while sonically traveling along the nation’s scenic backroads. Coming later this year, the album shifts the band from its signature groovy, funky glam-jam adventures on 2019’s Hello, Helou and their 2017 self-titled debut.
“We have all 15 tracks completed and mastered with the vinyl on order and are planning on releasing the album whenever the vinyl production is completed – anywhere from four to six months. In the meantime, you’ll be seeing a single from us about once a month before the full release. But I can’t tell you what tracks are going to be released as singles just yet,” Bota said.
Why Not? vinyl copies and collective prints are now available to pre-order via the band’s website. Bota and his Desmond Jones bandmates also are planning to record and release several videos from different tracks off the upcoming album.
“We’re still working out the details for any Why Not? music videos, but ‘Pink Moon’ is definitely in the running. We plan to create at least two to three videos for songs from the album by the end of 2021 and hope to have the first one out sometime this summer,” said Bota, who formed the band with Nowak and Berkowitz in 2012.
“We’re still figuring out personnel and conceptual ideas, so be on the lookout for those announcements in the near future on our social media pages.”
Live Shows, Patreon and Beer
Desmond Jones will return to the live stage May 20 after an 18-month absence of playing weekly in-person shows. They will perform at The Summit Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio as part of a Domefest Pre-Party with members of Electric Orange Peel and Conscious Pilot.
“It will be a pretty creative set. I know everyone is ready to let loose, do some musical traveling and have some great jams with friends we haven’t been able to see or play music with in over a year. As far as Domefest goes, if you’re planning on making the trip out to Ohio that weekend, you’ll probably see one or two us around somewhere at Legend Valley,” Bota said.
The band continues to dominate the livestream universe with a host of specially curated monthly shows through their Patreon account. By donating $5, $10 or $25 a month, fans have access to intimate performances, exclusive content, special merch and live chats.
“The Patreon account has really given us a wonderful outlet to reach our fans and make enough money to ‘keep the lights on’ during the pandemic. Without our Patreon followers, we really would have been in a lot more trouble than we were during the past year and a half,” Bota said.
“Any support through our Patreon account or online store means the world to us and helps us continue to make music for our fans. We’re hoping this new album will be a great way to reach new fans and get them onboard to our Patreon party.”
Desmond Jones fans also can take the party to a new level with “Giant EyePA,” a new band-themed beer by the Rake Beer Project in Muskegon. Named after the band’s track, “Giant Eye,” the raw double dry hopped double IPA with Amarillo hops and apricot was brewed as part of a limited-run pre-order in April.
“Rake Beer has been doing a series of beers inspired by local bands and their music called the Mitten Music Series. A couple of our friends – Flexadecibel and Earth Radio – did the collaboration as well, and we wanted in on the fun,” Bota said.
“Josh Rake is also a good friend of the band and actually brewed a beer for a private show held by the band when the Rake Beer Project was just starting out. We love IPAs like all good Michigan folk and thought that ‘Giant EyePA’ had the best ring to it.”