Remembering Ralph

When Rochester, NY 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.

Oliver Wiggens with Ronnie Leigh

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.

Bands participating in 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.

In 2017, the Rochester Music Hall of Fame came on board as the presenting sponsor. That event took place on October 20th at Rochester’s Anthology, and featured The Campbell Brothers, Prime Time Funk, JunkYardFieldTrip, and Me & the Boyz. Special guests included singers Danielle Ponder and Oliver Wiggins.

Campbell Brothers with PTF horns
Me & the Boyz

Those not able to attend the live fundraisers can donate any time to the Fund via mail/check at: Ralph Ortiz Memorial Fund, 5705 Running Brook Rd., Farmington, NY  14425.