With soulful vocals ranging from plaintive to joyful to wry, and a catalog of original songs that deal with peace, love, life, death and practically every other worthwhile topic, Joanne Rand has built a reputation and a loyal following over the past few decades.
Rand and her band will be back in Sonoma County this weekend, playing a gig Saturday at the Redwood Cafe, and whether you’ve seen her many times, or never before, you’d be wise to drop by. Onstage, she combines a dignified presence with an intensity you won’t soon forget.
Among her many charming quirks is the fact that Rand remains unrepentantly rooted in the folk sensibilities of the ’60s, including a passion for all sorts of worthy causes, lost or otherwise. She describes her style as “Psychedelic-Folk-Revival.”
Celebrating Arcata, her current hometown — part of a long history in Northern California, including a couple of stints living in Sonoma County — Rand, 57, wrote these lines for “Humboldt to the Bone,” off her most recent album, “Roses in the Snow & Drought”:
“Our little Arcata-ville, where the hippies are over the hill ... There’s no other place that we’d rather grace with seeds of rebellion that we’ve sewn.”
But she has never severed her bond with the Sonoma County music scene. “I’ve always felt that it was my support and my creative crucible, because I’ve always maintained connections to musicians there and that’s where my CD producer Stephen Hart lives,” Rand said in a recent phone interview.
Rand remains current and topical in her songwriting. Her newest single, “California’s Burning,” which she recorded and released on her own, deals with last fall’s wildfires in haunting images: “Blood red sunk through the redwood trunks, the sky is ash and smoke. We couldn’t slow the world down though we tried.”
To listen to the song, visit https://soundcloud.com/joannerand/californias-burning-2-mix-master-101217
Saturday’s show in Cotati will be the first opportunity for Rand’s Sonoma County fans to hear her perform the song live.
“I haven’t been down there for a while,” she said. “I wrote that song, actually, when the smoke was all the way up here. We never get smoke in Arcata. I was out walking my dog in the dunes, and feeling the concept that this world is changing, and we can’t really get away from it.”
The song goes well beyond the fires as a topic to deal with the environment and sustainability in a broader sense, with one lyric declaring, “We knew this was coming 40 years ago.”
“I was going back to when I was 16 or so, as a teenager in Florida. I knew then that the way were living in this country couldn’t sustain itself. That’s where that line came from,” Rand explained.
Far from being disillusioned, Rand remains committed to her ideals, hoping for a peaceful society and a healthy planet, and counting on future generations to carry on the cause.
“Now I have a daughter who’s 18. She’s turning into an eloquent speaker and writer.” Rand said. “She’s got some radical ideas.”
You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @danarts.