Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joanne Rand has zigzagged across the country for the last 30 years, living in places like Atlanta (her hometown), Chicago, New Mexico, the North Bay, the Pacific Northwest and Arcata, where she lives today. Throughout it all, she still calls Sonoma County her “crucible.”
“It was the place where I was held by the community,” Rand says. “They supported me, they got me, and they understood what I wrote more than any place I ever lived. I still feel like that.”
Rand first moved to Sonoma County in 1990 after meeting guitarist Steve Kimock and relocating to play music with him. By then, she was already an accomplished performer, whose brand of psychedelic folk is a mixture of childhood favorites like Joni Mitchell and Pink Floyd. “I quit piano lessons because my piano teacher wouldn’t teach me
Dark Side of the Moon,” laughs Rand.
While living in Sonoma County in the ’90s, she formed Joanne Rand & the Little Big Band to wide acclaim. Today, Rand still works with North Bay producer Stephen Hart, with whom she’s released seven full-length albums in the last seven years.
“The songs just keep coming through,” Rand says. “I thought I was self-indulgent to keep making these albums, but I couldn’t stop myself. I got depressed if I couldn’t do it.”
For Rand, writing songs is her way of staying mentally and spiritually connected with the world around her. “I’m connected to whatever’s feeding me the songs, I’m connected to [the audience] who’s listening and giving back that energy,” Rand says. “It’s unifying.”
Rand’s latest album, Roses in the Snow & Drought, is filled with songs that reflect her diverse approach to songwriting. Some tracks are personal, written in response to current events or family matters; others are universally relatable stories of humanity and morality. Some are written in the style of long-held folk traditions, and others are extended dance jams that let the guitars wander.
This week, Rand makes her way back to Sonoma County for a show at the Redwood Cafe in Cotati that she’s dedicating to her longtime drummer Bradley D. Cox, who’s undergoing treatment for cancer. Joined by violinist Rob Diggins and guitarist Piet Dalmolen, Rand will play music from her latest album and revive older material.
“I want [the show] to be a journey.”