A Celebration of Joni Mitchell featuring Kimberly Ford is a rocking tribute to the most iconic singer-songwriter of the Woodstock generation. Mitchell touched millions with her nearly 40-year career that spanned genres from contemporary folk to jazz to full-throated pop-rock. This incredible seven-piece band, modeled on Joni’s tenure with Tom Scott & the L.A. Express, plays all your favorite tunes, like Help Me, Both Sides Now, Conversation, Blue, River, All I Want, Free Man in Paris, Carey and, of course, Woodstock. The band also throws in a few you might not have heard before ...
COJM has been packing houses throughout Southern and Northern California and the Southwest since 2014. Significant performances include the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, Yoshi’s Oakland, Olivas Adobe in Ventura, Palms Playhouse in Winters and Grand Annex in San Pedro. In 2020, the band mounts its first East Coast tour with a stop at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Die-hard fans can’t get enough (and often sing along) and critics have noticed. “No singer on the West Coast is paying more scrupulous attention to Mitchell’s wondrous book than Santa Barbara’s Kimberly Ford,” writes Bay Area journalist Andy Gilbert, noting her “bright and flexible soprano that effortlessly rises into Mitchell’s upper range.”
Ford and her band bring a new verve to all of Joni’s favored genres. Not content to be a paint-by-numbers tribute band, COJM infuses Mitchell’s songs with new life while paying deep respect to a revered icon and poet laureate of her generation’s songwriters.
Joni’s absence from performing has only whetted appetites for COJM since the band’s birth six years ago. Founding drummer Charles Levin approached Ford with the idea after hearing her sing on gig at a private party. Two weeks later, he emailed Ford to see if she was game for a Joni-centric band. The answer was a resounding yes! In short time, Ford and Levin assembled a crew of the area’s best-known musicians to take on the project.
About the Band
Kimberly Ford, lead vocals, guitars, mandolin, dulcimer, has performed with jazz luminaries Jay Clayton, Sheila Jordan and Kim Richmond. Kimberly has been featured at jazz festivals throughout the United States, Europe and Canada, including performances at the annual JoniFest, an international tribute to Joni Mitchell. Kim has also performed at the International Winter Paralympic Games. Besides work as a full-time vocal instructor, Kimberly does voice overs for documentaries and has recorded four CDs. She also co-directs the Santa Barbara Jazz Camp and is a faculty member at the Northwoods Jazz Camp.
George Friedenthal, piano, keyboard, melodica and vocals, originally trained as a classical pianist at the The Juilliard School, but found his calling in rock, R&B, blues and jazz. George has performed with Kenny Loggins, Clark Terry, Mary Wilson (of the Supremes), Luis Muñoz, Jim Messina, Rosemary Butler, Bonnie Bramlett, Bill Watrous, Bob Mintzer, Maria Schneider and Gerald Wilson. He also plays with the Santa Barbara City College Monday Madness Big Band, world beat aficionados Native Vibe and local pop-R&B groups, Raw Silk and Area 51.
Lee Rollag, guitar, violin and vocals, has toured and performed with Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Jim Messina, Roger Miller, Doug Kershaw, John McEuen, Gary Morris, Danny Gatton and Chris Hillman. Lee has performed at Farm Aid 2 and appeared on the PBS shows Austin City Limits and PBS Soundstage. Lee also plays with the eclectic Ventura-based jazz-rock-country band, Mr. O.
Tom Buckner, saxophones, has recorded and toured with Grant Geissman and the Ralph Carmichael Big Band. He has performed with an array of jazz and popular music giants, including The Temptations, Michael McDonald, Lou Rawls, Peter Erskine, Rick Braun, Flora & Airto, and Bruce Forman, as well as recorded on numerous TV show soundtracks and jingles.
Tom Etchart, electric and upright basses, has played in a wide variety of styles, spanning Latin, R&B, rock, and jazz, both combo and big bands (the latter dating back to his years with the CalState Northridge “A” Band). His performance credits include Jim Messina, Peter Noone, Phyllis Diller, Luis Muñoz, Diane Reeves and The Pontiax. Tom also leads his own jazz-fusion band, Tom Etchart and Friends.
Tom Lackner, drums and percussion, has performed with a wide range of artists across many genres, including Airto and Flora, Eddie Harris, Laurindo Almeida, Tommy Tedesco, Jimmy Witherspoon, Charlie Musselwhite, Charles Brown and Mitch Kashmar. Tom currently plays in actor Jeff Bridges’ band, The Abiders, as well as personal projects, Headless Household and Zen Horse Repair. Tom has also performed in pit orchestras for numerous musicals and cabaret acts. He currently composes, records and produces music at his studio, The Tompound.
Sven Holcomb, guitar/vocals/percussion/production manager, began singing in choir as a kid, later adding drums and guitar. He studied jazz and classical music at the Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Sven’s performing credits include Jeff Bridges and the Abiders, Chris Pelonis Project, A Celebration of Joni Mitchell featuring Kimberly Ford and RedFish. Audio engineer credits include Jeff Bridges, Shaun Cassidy, Ravi Shankar, Jackson Browne, Jim Messina, T. Bone Burnett and others.
Charles Levin, artist manager/publicist, was the founder and original drummer of COJM. In a career spanning 30 years, Charles performed with Donny McCaslin, Paul Contos, Bob Mintzer, Plas Johnson, Karl Hunter, Madeline Eastman, Kitty Margolis, Zev Katz and Carol Kaye; and the original rock bands Gail Force and the Hurricanes and Metrobop. Charles led the Ventura-based jazz group Coda; founded A Celebration of Joni Mitchell featuring Kimberly Ford (which he still co-leads); and worked with numerous Southern California artists, including singers Bernie Meisinger and Leigh Vance; the Equinox Big Band; the Santa Barbara City College Lunch Break Band; the Dave Smith-Cary DeNigris Quartet; and Bill Bannister’s Blue Dog Project. As a journalist, Charles is the co-author with drummer Joe La Barbera on a forthcoming memoir about Joe's two-year tenure with the late jazz pianist Bill Evans.