Fullerton resident Rich Godinez playing in South County
It seems like wherever Rich Godinez plays his music, the police are never too far behind him.
Ever since the Fullerton resident was laid off at his job as a truck dispatcher job over two years ago, Godinez has been entertaining customers with Christian tunes and the occasional pop song at several Orange County shopping centers.
The 42-year-old father of four has played in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Brea, a gas station in Placentia and even in front of Disneyland. But, at some point, the police always manage to shut him down.
On Sep. 5, after several months of playing at a shopping center in Lake Forest, Godinez was told to leave.
am just trying to scrape by, earn an extra buck or two when I can," he
said. "Two of my kids are stepchildren, and they don't have a dad... I
don't want to let any of my kids down. I don't want to be a deadbeat
The lifelong Orange County resident worked as a truck driver for over 20 years but has a passion for teaching music, and wants start up his own business giving lessons. Godinez has a handful of clients at the moment, using his performances as a way to network to try to earn money to support his family. At the moment, Godinez and his wife barely make ends meet for their children, ranging in ages from 10 to 18, but he hopes he can make his aspiration of teaching music for a living a reality.
"I had to fall flat on my face and become almost homeless to just live and let go," Godinez said about his experiences being shut down at his street performances. "I would love to be a part of corporate America again and have a set career but it just hasn't been happening. So I am trying to follow my dream and reach my goals the only way I know how."
Apparently, one businessowner at the Lake Forest shopping center was not too amused by Godinez. The woman, who refused to give her name or which store she owned, told Godinez to take his music elsewhere.
"You play nice music and I understand what you're trying to do but you can't do it here--it's illegal," she told Godinez. "We all pay rent here. I care about my community and it hurts our business."
Within minutes, an Orange County Sheriff deputy rolled up on a motorbike and told him they got a call and it's time to move on.
Although patrolling officers have told him to leave his post at shopping centers more that a few times, Godinez called this particular incident "very rare," as it was only the second time ever that a businessowner complained. The response from passersby usually is overwhelmingly positive, he says. It's usually police that tell him to leave.
"If I got a lot of that [from businessowners], I wouldn't be doing this," he said. "But I guess I need a bigger roadblock every now and then to just keep me going."
Godinez had a run-in with police two summers ago in Buena Park, in an incident he says was the worst. He was cited for "solicitation of job, business or money in public right-of-way," but not before being briefly detained, with his guitar taken away for three months as "evidence."
"I am just trying to find one place left in America where you can just play good music and have people support you," he says.
Now that he got the boot from his post in good ol' South County, Godinez is thinking about making the drive outside of OC to go play his music at a shopping center in Riverside.
Watch video below of Godinez performing in Lake Forest, only to be shut down within an hour of playing his music.