On September 13, 2016, I went to the emergency room with an unbearable pain in my back. After various tests, I was diagnosed with a type of cancer, and immediately underwent surgery to remove a mass.
On September 16, I began my first round of chemotherapy treatment. After spending a week in the hospital, I was released and able to return home. I will continue chemotherapy treatment to shrink the remaining masses and rid myself of cancer.
This page was created and will be maintained by my friends as a way for me to share updates about my progress and treatments, and to raise funds to offset medical bills from hospitalization and continued treatment plan while I am unable to work and play music.
I appreciate your prayers, positive vibes and support. Those of you who know me, know that music is my number one passion, and I can't wait to get back on the stage to perform. For those of you who don't know me, I'm sharing an article below that I wrote last year that was published in MusicFest Magazine.
Thank you for all of your healing thoughts and support,
Anthony Ortiz, Jr. aka Mr. Squeezebox
"My Rig" by Anthony Ortiz, Jr.
Published in MuiscFest Magazine, 2015
During a show, my accordion and trumpet are always within arm’s reach. Not to mention a set of maracas and my dancing boots to get the audience involved. For me, it’s all about the live experience.
When I first joined Crooks as accordionist, trumpeter and “co-frontman,” I was confident that my musical stylings would be well-utilized, considering the various genres the band maintained as influences: classic country, rock, outlaw, and southwestern mariachi and conjunto. I blended my Spanish music knowledge with the band’s current sound to help breed a new sound of music - a style that we affectionately label “Bandito Country.”
I grew up listening to tejano and conjunto music, and its traditions - family and friendship - have played a very important role in my development as a musician. My first instrument was the drums, then guitar, and shortly thereafter I received my first accordion from a local flea market for $50; my father showed me one song and one scale to start, and I taught myself the rest.
To this day, I still play alongside my grandfather and father in our Austin-based family mariachi band, Mariachi Corbeta. My performance style has been shaped by the way father plays - full of energy, excitement and soul; I’ve also drawn influence from my idols Michael Salgado, Jamie De Anda, Flaco Jimenez, and David Ferias. I typically model my playing after their styles and techniques but add a dash of my own flavor.
My music arsenal contains my Gabbenelli Accordion, “Maria,” who I purchased at 13 using the money I had earned by gigging with the family band, as well as an Eastern Silver Trumpet that I received as a gift from my grandfather when I was in high school. My Shure Wireless Microphone setup affixed to my accordion helps me achieve the “hall” acoustic sound that gives my instrument that special “oomph.” It also gives me the ability to move through the crowd and interact with our fans. Not a show goes by where I don’t jump off the stage and dance through the room with my accordion.
My accordion has been the love of my life since the day I got her, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t broken my heart. The very first night of MusicFest 2015 to a packed house on the Grand Ballroom Stage, the accordion’s bellow - the middle section - blew out during an especially intense accordion run. Unlike replacing a busted guitar string or broken drumsticks, replacing a bellow on an accordion is an endeavor of surgical significance. Thankfully, my fellow musicians had my back. I was very fortunate to have Jon Grossman of Uncle Lucius, as well as the Turnpike Troubadours, offer up their instruments to me as backups. It’s a challenge to find another accordion when you are 7,000 feet up a mountain in Colorado, but our tight-knit music family really came through to help make the show go on!