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Not quite Originals, but close

Fountain Valley-based band, which had to tweak its name to avoid copying, hopes to expand audience at OC Fair.

July 10, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • The Originalites -- from left, Daniel Tello, Michael Belk, Pete Fontes and Tim Frankeny -- gather before a gig at Gallagher's Pub in Huntington Beach.
The Originalites -- from left, Daniel Tello, Michael… (DON LEACH, HB Independent )

When Daniel Tello realized his four-piece band couldn't be called the Originals — because the name belonged to a '60s R&B and soul group — he added "ites."

It wasn't an arbitrary decision, though. Tello took inspiration from legendary ska bands the Skatalites and the Israelites, because the last four letters represented a group of people united by a common love for music, he said.

In the four years since, Tello, Peter Fontes and Tim Frankeny — all Fountain Valley High School graduates — and Michael Belk, whom they met through common friends, have rehearsed in Fontes' mother's Costa Mesa garage. Having gained attention for their repertoire of ska, punk, Latin, jazz and dub reggae, the full-time musicians now spend multiple nights a week on stage.

A show they are particularly excited about is at 7 p.m. July 27 — part of the Orange County Fair's Toyota Summer Concert Series at the Pacific Amphitheatre. The Originalites will kick off the night, followed by the English Beat and headlining band Save Ferris.

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"We are looking forward to all the people there that could be potential fans," said Tello, who is 23 like his bandmates. "Being an O.C.-based band, a lot of those people have already seen us around somewhere. I think they will really like the music, which is a good thing for us."

For Dan Gaines, who has been the Orange County Fair's entertainment director since 2009, filling up the series' roster is a complex process akin to a "juggling act."

His team's primary focus is diversity, keeping in mind the tastes of the local community, which tends to respond well to classic rock, reggae, country and youth bands. This goal is balanced with affordability and the availablity of artists.

"While we strive to have a performance for everyone in the Pacific Amphitheatre, the fair has the same goal," he said. "There is something here that everyone can enjoy. The costs are next to nothing. I think this continues to be a really strong draw for the public."

With this year's lineup set, Gaines has already submitted offer letters to a slew of performers for next season. The task of researching established and up-and-coming artists, exploring possibilities with agents and negotiating is a year-long one.

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