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Laura Austin Photo / Christopher Ortiz, Shady, headlining Ridgecrest’s 6th Annual Music Festival, sits in his studio preparing for the upcoming event.

Ridgecrest’s 6th Annual Music Festival Sat., May 18

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer –

Tomorrow, May 18, the Desert Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center will host a family-friendly all-day event. The music will start at 11 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. Kids 12 and under are free, but everyone else must make a $10 donation. Folks can camp on-site for added fun and convenience. All profits will benefit Murray and Monroe Middle Schools’ orchestras.

Once again, Melomania Entertainment brings together an eclectic mix of live music. “We have everything from solo performances, orchestra ensembles, band ensembles, rock and roll bands, a little bit of variety in genres and then even ending with a bang with our awesome rap group,” says President Michelle Britt. Bombshell Betties will be zipping around on their rollerblades, selling 50/50 raffle tickets. In an effort to entice families to stay beyond their kids’ performance, kids can enjoy free face painting, bounce houses, a watermelon eating contest and cake walks.

Police and Community Together (PACT) will once again be on hand to provide security. “They’ve been really great about being here every year. They’re almost like a part of the family,” Britt says with her trademark enthusiasm.  Sponsors have stepped up to the plate to support this music fundraising event. It looks like the initial overhead will be covered so that ticket sales and other income can go to the schools. Moe’s Music offered sponsorship as well as providing sound services at no charge. Other sponsors include the High Desert Teachers Association, Eagle Rafting, Cynthia Fox, and Ronnie Peterson. You can read the names of all sponsors on this year’s festival t-shirt.

“We will have different clothing vendors there. We have two different great tie-dyed vendors. Both of them do unique art. Redneck Hillbilly clothing line is coming in with another variety of clothing.” There will be food vendors and Patriot Saloon will be providing adult beverages.

Ever conscious of broadening the festival’s reach, Britt likes what headliner Christopher Ortiz brings to the party. She says, “He’s a plus to the event. I was glad to invite him in, and it is really cool that he can invite some of his friends to play.”

Shady is Ortiz’s rap name. He tells us, “I’m doing everything I can to raise as much money and bring as many fans there as possible so we can give back because I love giving back. That’s my main thing.”

Ortiz has been involved in music his whole life and rapping seriously for four years. For those of us unfamiliar with the genre, he tells us, “Rap is where you are rhyming.” Some folks rhyme on the beat, some off the beat. “Rap is more, and I would say gangster, you know, rap would be more vulgar. Hip Hop’s a little more uppity.” Some rappers improvise on the spot. Others write down their songs. Ortiz creates music from rap to rhythm and blues. “I love making love songs to my lady. Actually, my love songs have been on the radio.” His songs can be heard on 100.9 on Adelman Broadcasting.

This might be a good time to note that parents should plan on leaving at 9 pm because rappers do use curse words. “We are cussing on stage. I don’t want people to be offended.” He adds the word “explicit” to his promotions.

Christopher Ortiz Entertainment is the name of his record label. He says they do everything, including photography, deejay, and artist representation. He is bringing ten rap artists to open for him. There will be folks from Los Angeles, Lancaster, and Ridgecrest. He asserts that an artist that he represents, Rogue Lucky, will probably be deemed one of the best rappers of this generation. He says she is extremely talented and has great lyricism.

The generosity of Ortiz’s spirit is evident. What isn’t so obvious is how he got to where he is. In a 2021 interview, he stated, “I love this community. I love Ridgecrest. I was born and raised here. I changed my life here. I have been on the opposite end of doing good, and now I am doing great.”

When asked what the opposite of doing good meant for him, he hesitated and decided to tell the story of his dark past.  “I made a lot of bad choices. And then I realized that I wasn’t that person. You know, I didn’t want to be a drug addict. I didn’t want to be on drugs. I realized that that’s just not who I am. It was just choices I was making that were holding me back because I had a really loving mom who cared a lot about me. She was always fighting for me to be a better person. But I also was influenced by a lot of the people around me and I let that be my influence. So instead of being above the influence, I let them influence me.”

Fatherhood gave him a wakeup call. “My son was four years old and he was starting soccer. I always talked about how I wanted to be one of his coaches. I always wanted to be part of his life in sports or anything like that, but I was too busy getting high, you know, doing the opposite. And they told me he was starting sports.”

He entered rehab in Southern California, but the program was not a fit, so he decided to do it on his own and left on foot. He walked and prayed for 50 to 60 hours and God answered. “God helped me get through this.  I found some money on the highway when I was walking. Some of it was counterfeit, some was real, Crazy, right?” He also found a winning scratcher ticket and a brand new pack of cigarettes. “I used to smoke cigarettes back then, you know, and I was like, ‘This is crazy.’  I said. ‘I see you, I promise you. I promise you I’m gonna go hard every day. I see you working for me. I’m gonna work for you.’ Then clouds come over me, and it doesn’t rain hard. It just lightly drizzles. It cools me down and I got picked up by my uncle.”

He went through a period of homelessness until he regained the trust of his family. His mother let him live with her and he began to rebuild his life. He looked for a new focus, a new environment, and new friends. “I always had dreams of being on stage in front of hundreds of people, thousands of people, maybe millions, I don’t know, but it’s just like I’ve always had that dream and I always had dreams of being great, doing something great in my life. So I just started chasing everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”

Now Ortiz owns his own home, runs his own record label, has a successful landscaping business, and a loving family and kids who know their father will always be there for them, doing all that he can.

“I do give mad props to people who just stay straight because that’s harder than anything. I tell you that right now,” Ortiz says. “The people who just work really hard at do what they’re supposed to every day, with all the temptations around in this world. I give them the biggest high fives.”