Frank Ortega is living a dream by recording country music that is rooted in a traditional country sound.
Growing up in the Sunshine State of Arizona, Ortega spent many afternoons listening to the classic country greats like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, and Buck Owens, which his father played day after day. While he listened and played a variety of music from rock to pop, Frank’s heart lives within the three chords and the truth which is… country music.
“They were just such simple songs about what is real,” notes Ortega. “Some of my greatest memories growing up were walking in the door, hearing that music being played very loud, and smelling my Mother’s cookin’ in the kitchen – couldn’t beat it. My Daddy would be singing and playing along with his old acoustic guitar in his hands. Even though he knew just three chords, it didn’t matter.”
It was unbeknownst to Ortega at that young age that those moments would sculpt his path out in the country music industry years later. Early on in school Ortega took up trumpet in band, but after a short while when his friends quit, Ortega wondered if he should do the same. “My father told me I had to finish out the year, and then if I wanted to I could stop playing,” remembers Ortega. “That probably ended up being one of the best decisions in my musical career because I fell so deeply in love with music at that point.”
Ortega continued down his musical journey in high school by playing with the jazz band, marching band and orchestra. After months of teaching himself the basics on his father’s old acoustic guitar, Ortega’s father presented his son with his first electric guitar. That marked the beginning of Ortega’s love affair with creating his own music. He began writing songs and was eager to sharpen his skills in the recording studio.
In his twenties, Ortega had local success on radio and regional markets in the Southwest with music of different genres, but always felt most comfortable singing the kind of “simple songs” he listened to growing up. Upon moving to Nashville, Ortega made friends throughout the music business, one of them being Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter James House. The two collaborated on Ortega’s independent hit, “Hot Women Cold Beer,” which hit number one on the Indie World Country Chart in January 09.
Ortega’s dream finally came true when he inked a deal with Nashville based Quarterback Records. His first single with the label is “Honkytonk and The Altar,” which was penned by songwriting greats Kelley Lovelace (“He Didn’t Have To Be,” “Start A Band”), Tim Owens (“Ticks,” “Settlin’”), and Phil O’Donnell (“Back When I Knew It All”). O’Donnell also serves as producer on the song.
Ortega is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on his highly anticipated self-titled album which is scheduled for release later this year. The album will feature a combination of self-composed songs, as well as a cover of the Buck Owens classic “Act Naturally.”
“I definitely lean towards traditional country music,” Ortega states. “Vintage yet current”, that’s the best way you can describe me I guess, there’s nothing I love more than hearing artists like Jamey Johnson, and Lee Ann Womack and with artists like us, I feel we can bring that traditional (yet current) sound back. I truly feel my future is limitless.”