Songbirds anniversary show a milestone for Ramona music scene – The San Diego Union-Tribune

The Songbirds show, a monthly event with all women musical performers at Ramona Ranch Winery, has been a hit with both audiences and performers.

On Sept 2, more than 100 guests attended a special two-year anniversary show to hear performances by Astra Kelly, Sara Petite, Leah Keane, Lindsay White, Thea the Band, Chloe Lou, Dusty Recor and Catherine Beeks.

Ashley E. Norton, who founded and coordinates the concerts, said it is an effort to help balance the inequality among female musicians and their male counterparts.

“Less than 20 percent of the songwriters on the Billboard charts are women, even though there is an equal number of male and female songwriters with equal talent,” Norton said.

Teri Kerns, Ramona Ranch Winery owner, and musician Ashley E. Norton, took a few minutes during the anniversary event to discuss how Songbirds came about.

(John Hancock )

Teri Kerns, co-owner of Ramona Ranch Winery with her husband, Micole Moore, partnered with Norton shortly after a mutual music-loving friend introduced them.

“I was blown away by her talent, voice, and most importantly, her warm and open nature. We immediately hit it off and have been collaborating ever since,” Kerns said.

Kerns likened the monthly Songbirds event to women involved in the wine industry.

“I didn’t know how poorly represented female musicians are until we embarked on this adventure,” she said. “Similar to the music industry, Ramona also shines with a strong community of female collaborative wine makers, vineyard and winery owners.”

While the show does occasionally feature male artists, it’s about focusing and celebrating women artists, Norton said.

“We laugh and cry and talk about hard things as we try to connect with our audience. I just want it to grow and have longevity. It sure does feel special,” she said.

Norton hosts and personally selects all of the performers, and often joins in herself as needed. Women who had been a Songbirds participant or performed previously at the winery participated in the anniversary show.

At the second anniversary show for the Songbirds, Lady Psychiatrist's Booth played backup for the performers.

At the second anniversary show for the Songbirds, Lady Psychiatrist’s Booth played backup for the performers. From left, Stephanie Groot; Amanda Albini; Ashley E. Norton, Songbirds founder and host; and Marcia Claire.

(John Hancock )

Norton’s band, Lady Psychiatrist’s Booth, played backup after learning the songs of all the performers in the month leading up to the event. Band members include Marcia Claire on bass, Amand Albni on drums and Stephanie Groot on violin and mandolin.

“I asked each performer to choose three songs, with at least two songs using a backup band, but nearly everyone chose three songs with the band,” Norton said.

In addition to choosing their songs, the women were asked to send in charts, performance videos and recordings, if available, so the band could begin learning the new numbers.

There were no rehearsals.

“The night before the show, I went over with the band every single song and we made sure the charts — the lyrics, chords, keys, times, etc — were right,” Norton said.

As each musician performed their songs accompanied by a band most had never played with, the audience responded with appreciative applause and cheers.

The artists were equally thrilled with how the evening progressed.

“I can’t believe how many songs you guys have learned,” said Thea Tochihara of Thea the Band during her performance. “It’s incredible.”

Thea the Band performs at Songbirds event.

Thea the Band performs at Songbirds event.

(John Hancock )

For the finale, everyone joined in for a rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”

“I knew my band was going to nail it, and they did, and I could not have been prouder,” Norton said.

Musician Catherine Beeks had performed at the winery previously, but not as part of the Songbirds show. She said she was “over the moon” about being invited.

“The show was magical. The backdrop view is unmatched. There is a concert-in-the-park feel where you can bring your own chairs or blankets and enjoy the show,” Beeks said. “The sunset, the full moon crested and we all had an amazing evening.”

Musician Catherine Beeks said she was “over the moon” to be part of the special event.

Musician Catherine Beeks said she was “over the moon” to be part of the special event.

(John Hancock )

Jon Hasz and Michael Mosley ran sound for the event.

On Monday following the anniversary show, Norton said she was still basking in the moment of having such a large number of “amazing” women together for the performance.

“It’s a beautiful show, full of love, in a beautiful setting and a safe space,” she said.

A rainbow made an appearance over the Ramona Ranch Winery tasting room, just before the show began.

A rainbow made an appearance over the Ramona Ranch Winery tasting room, just before the show began.

(John Hancock )

Kerns was just as pleased with the event, which was part of several anniversaries for the winery, including their first year in their new tasting room, and 11 years of on-site wine tastings. Their first vineyard was planted in 2005.

“Since its inception, we’ve seen our music scene grow, with several amazing women living and performing here in Ramona; we like to think that Songbirds of Ramona Ranch played a part in their inspiration,” Kerns said.

More information about upcoming performances at Ramona Ranch Winery, 23578 Highway 78, can be found at or their Facebook site.

To learn more about the women musicians, visit their social media sites, which list their upcoming performances, videos and playlists.

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