Celebrating 25 Years in the Arts – (furniture that is. . .)

On May 12, the Pam Ortiz Band performed a concert at Bob’s furniture shop, in Chestertown, Robert Ortiz Studios, as a part of Bob’s 25th anniversary as an independent furniture maker.  We had a great evening with lots of food, friends, and music.  Bob opened the evening with several songs including Por Una Cabeza, a Carlos Gardel tango from the 1920s which featured our 13-year old son Daniel on violin, and our 16-year old daughter, Sofia, on mandolin.  The Pam Ortiz Band followed, with special guest Mike Buccino on bass.  We’ve posted a few videos from the evening on the video page.

Congratulations to Bob on 25 years of great furniture, great art, and staying in the game!

New Videos

The video page has some new links to live performance videos from our show at the Cellar Stage in Baltimore earlier this month.  Bob and I performed as the opener for Bill Staines at the venue hosted by our friend, Joyce Sica.  Bob and I met on a stage in 1990 at another venue managed by Joyce in those days, the coffeehouse at the Old Otterbein Church, also in Baltimore.  We were delighted to see friends old and new at this performance.  The videos were shot by Paul Demmitt.  Thanks, Paul, for sharing these videos.

Name the Band Contest

The other day, Bob, Ford, Nevin and I were performing and I choked when it came time to introduce us.  I thought we could play on the multisyllabic, ethnic rhythms of the “Pamela Cardullo Ortiz Band.”  It worked for Boutros Boutros Ghali and all the NPR reporters (Lourdes Garcia Navarro, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, to name just a couple).  Alas, it just doesn’t really work.  So, we are planning to go with Pam Ortiz & ______ (something).  But we need a name for the band.  So, if you want to participate in this effort, go to my Facebook page and weigh in.  You can enter your own ideas or vote on someone else’s.  Be kind, though.  It’s our musical identity you’re dealing with here.  We’ll pick the name we like best.  The winner will a free copy of our forthcoming album release (of course we haven’t named that yet either!).

Click Here to Go to the Facebook page and submit your entry.

Sharing the Stage with Sombarkin






We had a great time this past weekend performing at the Norman James Theatre at Washington College in an afternoon of music to celebrate the civil rights movement and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The program featured about 10 groups including local performers, gospel choirs, and ensembles singing gospel, freedom songs and other music appropriate to the event.  Bob (Mr. Beret), Ford Schumann (far right) and I (the short one) were delighted to share the stage with Sombarkin which includes the phenomenal voices of (from left to right) Lester Barrett, Jr., Karen Somerville and Jerome McKinney, with special guest Norvel Thompson.  Our set included Lester taking the lead on my song, Rattle Them Chains, and all of us accompanying Bob on Julio Numhauser’s Todo Cambia.  Sombarkin followed with a great set of their own.  We were honored to be there with so many good friends for a powerful and reflective community celebration.




New Pics from Pikesville

We had a great time last weekend playing at Guitars of Pikesville. Our old friend, Josh Polak, his daughter Esther, and friends Shuvi and Miriam Maaravi, performed first as the “Father-Daughter Thing.” Beautifully played and sung, including songs in Ladino. Check out the shop’s website at: Guitars of Pikesville. We followed with a long set. We were glad to see quite a few friends from Baltimore. Here are a few photos from friend and phenomenal photographer, Coos Hamburger. Check out his work at Foco Photographic. All photos copyright 2011 C.Hamburger.

Song Blog: Nothing at All

I wrote this song earlier this year.  Bob and I thought we would post a video in solidarity with the courageous and the frustrated who are part of Occupy Wall Street.  It’s far from perfect, but we thought we’d  send it out there.  One day soon we’ll get around to recording it.  Sofia even makes a cameo.  Please let us know what you think.  I’ve posted lyrics on the lyrics page as well.  Many of my family members, early 20th Century Italian immigrants, worked in sweat shops.  My Sicilian grandmother, Carmella, did sew trousers for Eagle Clothes.

Tell us what you think about the song.  Tell us your story . . . what are you dealing with these days?


Song Blog: Music for Every Disaster

Having had our run of disasters . . . earthquake, hurricane, plague of locusts (on the eve of Irene, I was attacked by a hive of yellowjackets and stung 10 times) . . it seemed appropriate to come up with something to suit the times. Join us for an upcoming performance to hear After the Hurricane:

The rain falls on the rich and the poor man
The wind treats us all the same
But the wealthy have insurance,
The poor just their endurance
After the Hurricane.

Song Blog – Rattle Them Chains

I thought I would share something new via video. Here is a fresh-off-the press song I wrote a week ago or so. I’ve also posted the lyrics on this site. We debuted the song last week at Against the Grain. A couple thoughts for context. Here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland we have a rich historic legacy, but one rooted in deep-seated inequities that continue to affect our neighbors and friends, and thus, all of us. This song may seem like it is about the past, but it is about the present. I had a conversation with someone recently about some of the homes where there remain shackles on the cellar wall, rings in the courtyard that were used for restraints. One more note of explanation – the reference to “PBJ” in the song is not “peanut butter and jelly.” It stands for “probation before judgment.” Rattle them chains. . .

Free Angels download

Well, I’m exploring what it means to be a digital musician. It does require you create a digital persona. That is actually a construct and requires some work. It is an exciting opportunity to think that we can reach one another in this way. To make it more fun, I am experimenting with free downloads. You can download a free copy of my song, Angels, from the Terra Nova recording, Beyond the Gate, by going to my facebook page: Free Song Download (Angels).

I know I get more requests for this song than any other, and have had the opportunity to sing it at many benefits and special occasions over the years. It has become the featured song of an annual benefit I do with a number of others here in Chestertown, Maryland, every year called “Women Helping Women.” I get to sing it with an angel chorus of fantastic performers. This year we added guys to the line-up so it became “Men Helping Women Helping Women Helping Men” or something like that. It was a great evening and raised funds to support a medical clinic that serves low-income residents on the Eastern Shore. Look for it again late next Winter or early Spring at the Garfield Center for the Performing Arts at the Prince Theatre.