Santa Barbara County’s ears first perked up to the sound of Buellton teen Dylan Ortega, age 16, when he competed in Santa Barbara’s Teen Star, but he’s distancing himself from the competitive circuit now. “Everybody was phenomenal, and I really don’t think that it’s appropriate to name one person as Santa Barbara’s one star when there’s such a wide range of talent with every genre,” he said.
Get to know Ortega, and it’s clear his humility and grace are of a caliber uncommon for teens. His father raised him until a fatal heart attack struck while the two vacationed in Wyoming, when the 13-year-old Ortega had to drive his father to a hospital. The tragedy forced the Santa Ynez native into an early maturity, but it’s that old soul, channeled through a voice of gold, which helps make Ortega so appealing.
Not swayed by the pickup-truck-and-girls lyrical trends of modern country, Ortega and his band harken to the sounds of yesteryear. “The older country resonates with me more. It tells a story,” he said. He upholds courtesy and mutual respect as some of his chief values and feels that respect shared between neighbors and strangers has been largely lost to the mistrustful modern times. He finds his solace in the open dirt roads of the country, far from any urban bustle. (“Even Santa Barbara’s too big a city for me,” he said.)
Dylan recently returned from Nashville after recording his first studio EP album. “ This album has been a long time in the making and I was fortunate enough to have some amazing people in my corner helping me on it along the way. I can’t wait to release the album and see what the future holds”.
Great website to see his video appearance on Teen Idol and additional photos.