When Rochester bassist Rafael Ortiz died suddenly in February 2009 from cancer, the music community grieved in the way they knew best — by playing music in his honor.
More than 70 musicians who had played with Ortiz over the years came together for a nine-hour concert at Water Street Music Hall that benefited the Rafael Ortiz Memorial Fund. The fund covered Ortiz’s medical and funeral expenses as well as two music scholarships in his name: one for a graduating senior pursuing music studies from Ortiz’s alma mater, Newark High School, and the other for bass lessons at Northfield Music in Pittsford, where Ortiz taught for 20 years.
The fund continues to give out annual scholarships, thanks to two more “Remembering Ralph” concerts in 2010 at the Lilac Festival and 2012 at the Corn Hill Festival. More than a dozen musicians have received scholarships, totaling over $10,000.
“We’re fortunate to have been able keep the scholarships going as a way to honor a close friend and great musician,” said concert organizer James Richmond, who co-founded Prime Time Funk with Ortiz. “Having the Rochester Music Hall of Fame on board this year means we will be able to continue to give out those scholarships and keep Ralph’s legacy alive.”
“We had been looking to present another great musical event in addition to our annual induction ceremony at Kodak Hall in April,” said Karl LaPorta, RMHF board chairman. “Prime Time Funk has been our ‘house band’ since we began in 2012, so getting involved with this concert seemed like a perfect fit for us.”
“Remembering Ralph 2017: Rochester’s Music Community Remembers Ralph Ortiz” will feature performances by Prime Time Funk, The Campbell Brothers, JunkYardFieldTrip and Me & the Boyz with special guests Danielle Ponder and Oliver Wiggins at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at Anthology, 336 East Ave., Rochester.
Tickets cost $20, and are available online at anthologylive.com, at the door and in person at Record Archive, 33-1/3 Rockwood St., Rochester; Bop Shop Records, 1460 Monroe Ave., Rochester; Northfield Music, 50 State St., Pittsford; and House of Guitars, 645 Titus Ave., Rochester.
Those not able to attend can donate to the fund via mail at Ralph Ortiz Memorial Fund, 5705 Running Brook Road, Farmington, NY, 14425.