LAKE GEORGE Local musician Rich Ortiz of Lake George is among 15 finalists in a national contest looking for a winning bar band. Castle Brands Inc., an emerging international spirits company, has announced the 15 semifinalists in its Boru Vodka Defend the Bar Band contest. The month-long search for the most authentic and passionate bar band resulted in over 100 applications from 31 states and a wide variety of musical styles. Fifteen artists were selected to be featured on the Boru Vodka website as semifinalists, where they will continue to compete for the opportunity to win a digital release with Roadrunner Records as well as $10,000 worth of new musical equipment from Musicians Friend. Ortiz is a fourth generation entertainer in a family of entertainers. He believes he is the product of his family's cultural diversity and strength, but his style is truly his own. Born in Bergen County, N.J., he got his start singing, acting, and dancing at the age of three. For the past 10 years, Ortiz has been living in the Lake George area, focusing all his talents and time on his acoustic solo act. He plays guitar, harmonica, and pedal bass with his feet, and turns heads with his vocals. His music is best described as funk folk pop. The Defend the Bar Band campaign was launched earlier this year as part of Boru Vodkas brand awareness program. The multi-tiered program was developed to find and reward the ultimate bar band. Representatives from Boru Vodka, Fathom Communications and artists and repertoire specialists from AWE determined the 15 bands to be featured on www.boru.com based on the artists sound, originality, composition, quality of performance and lyrics. Boru Vodka encourages music fans to visit www.boru.com, listen to the artists and cast their vote. The first 100 voters each day will receive a free music download. By registering to vote, consumers are automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win a grand prize of either $5,000 or a Boru-branded jukebox. Bands and fans will be able to track each bands standings through real-time, on-line voting results. The four bands receiving the greatest number of votes in the semifinal round will become the finalists in the competition. A combination of consumer voting and industry panel judges will determine which finalist will be Borus ultimate bar band. Both the winning band and the winner of the Defend the Fan sweepstakes will be announced in early November. The remaining semifinalist bands are: Art of Chaos from Torrance, Calif. Avision Red from Louisville, Colo. Ballyhoo from Bel Air, Md. Bing & The Bingtones from San Carlos, Calif. Joker from Athens, Ga. Liz Woodworth Trio from Bayfield, Wisc. Lloyd Dobler Effect from Silver Spring, Md. Olio from Los Angeles, Calif. Scarsboy from McKinney, Tex. The Iry from Columbus, Ohio The Righteous Hillbillies Joliet, Ill. The Secret Resistance from Brooklyn, N.Y. VMF from East Bridgewater, Mass. Volume Runner from Cinnaminson, N.J.