Rochester Music Hall of Fame presents fourth benefit concert
Featuring: Campbell Brothers, Danielle Ponder, Prime Time Funk, JunkYardFieldTrip, Me & the Boyz + more special guests
When Rochester bassist Rafael “Ralph” Ortiz passed away suddenly in February of 2009 after a brief battle with cancer, a shocked music community grieved in the way they knew best: by playing music in his honor. More than 70 musicians – all of whom had played with Ralph over the years – came together for a nine-hour concert at Water Street Music Hall that would benefit the Rafael Ortiz Memorial Fund. The Fund covered Ralph’s medical, funeral, and other expenses, but also funded two music scholarships in his name: one for a graduating senior pursuing music studies from Ralph’s alma mater, Newark High School ($1,000), and the other for bass lessons at Northfield Music in Pittsford ($500), where Ralph had taught for 20 years.
Since 2009, the Fund has continued to give out annual scholarships, thanks to two more Remembering Ralph concerts in 2010 (Lilac Festival) and 2012 (Corn Hill Festival). In all, the scholarships have totaled over $10,000 and have been awarded to more than a dozen young musicians.
“We’re fortunate to have been able keep the scholarships going as a way to honor a close friend and great musician,” says Remembering Ralph organizer James Richmond, who co-founded the band Prime Time Funk with Ralph more than 20 years ago. “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,” explains RMHF Board Chair Karl LaPorta. “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.”
Bands scheduled to perform at the Friday, October 20, 7 p.m. Remembering Ralph 2017: Rochester’s Music Community Remembers Ralph Ortiz at Anthology (336 East Ave.) are: The Campbell Brothers, Prime Time Funk, JunkYardFieldTrip, and Me & the Boyz. Special guests will include singers Danielle Ponder and Oliver Wiggins.
Tickets are $20 and are available in advance at anthologylive.com and at these local establishments: Record Archive, Bop Shop Records, Northfield Music and House of Guitars. They’ll also be available at the door. Those not able to attend can donate to the Fund via mail/check at: Ralph Ortiz Memorial Fund, 5705 Running Brook Rd., Farmington, NY 14425.
More about this year’s artists:
Prime Time Funk is a 10-piece powerhouse of passionate musicians from Western NY who write, arrange and perform a world-class combination of funk, jazz and R&B that’s hard to categorize but easy to feel. PTF’s debut CD, Ready and Willing, was co-produced by Grammy® Award-winning producer Jeff Tyzik, RPO Principal Pops Conductor. Its self-produced follow-up CD, Hear and Now, is a tribute to Ralph, the band’s co-founder and original bass player. They have organized and performed at every Remembering Ralph concert, and will be donating all proceeds from CD sales at this benefit to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico in Ralph’s honor. Find out more at primetimefunk.com.
The Campbell Brothers, who performed at the 2012 Remembering Ralph, play African-American gospel music with electric steel guitar and vocal. As the music moves from sanctuary to concert hall – including the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Symphony Space – secular audiences are now able to appreciate a performance both devoted and rocking. Band members: Chuck Campell (pedal steel guitar), Phillip Campbell (electric guitar, bass), Darick Campbell (lap steel) and Carlton Campbell (drums). Chuck Campbell played on PTF’s Hear and Now album, adding his signature sound to “That Smile” (dedicated to Ralph), and on “Power” (co-written by Ralph). Visit campbellbrothers.us for more info.
JunkYardFieldTrip was assembled in 2014 as a songwriting vehicle for Mike Gladstone (guitar/vocals) and Rob Smith (lead vocal/guitar). After adding one of western NY’s top rhythm sections – Emmett Ientilucci (drums/percussion/vocals) and Don Torpy (bass) – the band started playing acoustic shows around the Rochester, NY area. It quickly became one of the region’s most in-demand, eclectic bands and was nominated by CITY Newspaper’s Best of Rochester award for Best Band. Visit junkyardfieldtrip.com for more.
Me & the Boyz, a seven-piece horn band that has been performing a wide variety of music and entertaining area crowds for more than 22 years, played at the very first Remembering Ralph. The band features Teena Guarnere, Chris Guarnere, Mike Mullane, Jonathan Tucker, Aaron Davis, Mark Balestra, and Bruce Pitts. Find out more at meandtheboyz.com.
Danielle Ponder, the daughter of a preacher, takes the audience to church. She’s spent years rendering goose bumps by perfecting her style and charismatic performance. It is this voice that has helped her secure gigs opening up for powerhouses such as George Clinton, Ledisi, and The Roots. She and her band, The Tomorrow People, have also completed two successful European tours. More info at daniellepondermusic.com.
Now living in Los Angeles, singer Oliver Wiggins was a member of Mother Freedom and Saratoga (both with Ralph), and Don Potter’s band.
Bands participating in past Remembering Ralph concerts have included: The Legendary Dukes, Dan Schmitt & the Shadows, Park Avenue Band, The Buddahood, Po’ Boys Brass Band, Atlas, Chet Catallo & the Cats, Uncle Plum, the Mambo Kings, and many others.
The Rochester Music Hall of Fame recognizes those with ties to Rochester whose talents, efforts, perseverance and creativity have contributed to the creation of musical excellence. Each year new members will be honored through ceremony and celebration and their achievements memorialized to promote an appreciation for the greater Rochester area’s rich and diverse musical history and culture. For more information, please visit rochestermusic.org.