Celia Lawley wants to create unique entertainment options for communities and is interested in partnering with a local organization to stage a monthly Barn Dance in Ramona.
In a presentation to the Ramona Village Design Group, April 8, Lawley explained to members how she has set up a nonprofit organization, Enthrall Inc., dedicated to creating and presenting educational and entertaining programs, field trips and tours through a combination of music, history, sustainable living and environmental awareness.
“I’m a prototype creator,” said Lawley, who serves as executive director of Enthrall.
The music of the barn dance era, Lawley explained, slows people down a bit and gives them a different sense of life. In considering venues in Ramona to hold barn dances, Lawley suggested the Grange Hall or the Community Center.
Lawley comes from a family with roots in the entertainment business. She has been playing the fiddle since age 5, has a degree in violin performance from University of Southern California. After 18 years of classical training, she began exploring country music, according to her Web site, www.fiddlegirl.com.
Village Design Chair Rob Lewallen described her as a busy person who multi-tasks and plays in eight to 10 different bands.
Interested in eco-tourism and creating positive social change through music, history and sustainability, Lawley said she spent seven years creating “Gold Hill,” a musical about Julian’s 1870s gold rush. In the interactive musical, Lawley plays a number of instruments, sings and acts, and incorporates volunteers of all ages to participate.
Lawley said her long-term goal would be to bring such entertainment to Ramona. Mentioning Ramona resident Darrell Beck’s book, “On Memory’s Back Trail: A Story History of Ramona and the Backcountry of San Diego County,” Lawley said she would like to create a play from the book’s content.
“I would like to bring the great things of the past to current times,” she told the design group members.
Focusing on the time period from the early 1900s to the 1950s, Lawley said a musical about Ramona would include items that define the community.
While Enthrall Inc. is a nonprofit and must rely on ongoing fundraising, Lawley said, “Entertainment can pay for itself, but it’s more than just music.” Conducting the various entertainment events can create jobs for local people, she noted.
Lawley teaches fiddle in Ramona and Julian and supports a program through Enthrall in which fiddles are donated to San Diego schools. Enthrall has also donated money from performances to buy instruments for children through Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.
“The basic problem is we don’t have music in schools, so they (children) don’t appreciate it,” she said.
Lawley will be performing at the Wildlife Research Institute fundraiser on Saturday, April 17, at Highland Valley Studios. She will also perform at the Ramona Bluegrass and Old West Fest on May 8 and 9, at the outdoor community center off Aqua Lane, and will teach her “Fiddletime is Fun Time!” program at the festival on May 9.
Lewallen has been instrumental in organizing the bluegrass festival and plans to make it an annual event.
“I’ve got some good, serious bluegrass bands coming,” he said of this year’s lineup.
Bands scheduled to perform at the festival include Shirthouse Bluegrass Band, Lonesome Otis, Taildraggers, Bluegrass, Etc., Bluecreek Band, Celia Lawley & Harmony Hill, Bluegrass Brethren, and Windy Ridge.
The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 8, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 9. Tickets for May 8 will cost $13 pre-sale, $17 at the door, and $10 for kids ages 6 to 16. For May 9, tickets will cost $10 pre-sale, $14 at the door, and $5 for kids ages 6 to 16.
Recreational vehicle and tent camping will be available. E-mail questions to RamonaBluegrassFest@gmail.com.