Stone Soul has ‘em rocking at Ramona Bowl

Classic soul and Motown group headlines opening night at Ramona Bowl Summer Concert Series

Photo by Corey Evan/The Valley Chronicle
Stone Soul got the audience dancing at the Ramona Bowl.

■ By Corey Evan / Reporter

Last Thursday the Ramona Bowl Summer Concert Series kicked off with Stone Soul, a tribute band which covers mainly 1960s classic soul and Motown hits, including the works of Stevie Wonder, James Brown, The Temptations, Four Tops, and Otis Redding among others. One could say this was a proper #throwbackthursday at the Bowl!

Photo by Chris Smith/The Valley Chronicle
Lead singer Rick Gray had some James Brown style dance steps that delighted the audience.

Stone Soul is made up of lead singer Rick Gray, Rex Merriweather with his trumpet, Lance Rickman and Danny Moynihan on saxophones, John DeVolo and David Abercrombie on guitars (no sign of Fitch, as far as we know), and drummer Tom Curry (who brought his son Izador).
How did they come together? Gray found his bandmates in places all over Southern California, including several not mentioned who have moved on in their careers. “It was, like, 16 years ago when we first got together,” according to Gray.
What’s their overall mission? “To have fun… and hopefully the people watching have fun too!” according to Gray. “It’s always fun and it’s worth coming back for.”
On June 28, their mission was accomplished: Each song they sang enticed more and more audience members to get up and dance as the evening progressed. Thankfully for them, the space at the base of the grandstands came in handy for such an occasion.
Stone Soul also supports California’s public parks. “We actually have a really good relationship with California Parks and Recreation Society,” says Gray. “We wrote this song that we play during our summer concerts in the park… and we work with the ‘Parks make life better’ campaign.”

Photo by Chris Smith/The Valley Chronicle
Concertgoers get a sunset view of the Ramona Pageant hacienda from their seats in the amphitheater before dark at Thursday’s Stone Soul concert.

Ramona Bowl Chairperson Lori VanArsdale says this year’s concert series helps pay for a loan which made the repairs done to the hillside trail at the Bowl possible, so the horses involved in the annual Ramona Pageant can come on down without falling and getting hurt. “Unlike what many people think, we don’t get supported by any tax dollars. Everything we do, we do for you to have fun and every time you come here and support us with the concert and have a good time, you’re supporting the bowl.”
The stands may not have filled to capacity, but there was a healthy sized crowd of several hundred concertgoers there to enjoy these blasts from the past.
Stone Soul wishes to thank all those working at the Bowl’s offices and food service, as well as the sound and lighting crew
The Summer Concert Series continues on Friday, July 6, with Como La Flor, playing tribute to the late pop star Selena. Tickets are available by calling 951-658-3111 or online at
If you wish to experience more throwbacks with Stone Soul’s summer tour, and possibly sign their “Declaration of Recreation” to help support public parks, visit their website at

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