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.
"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.
According to Gaines, this line of work is steeped in competition, with multiple venues often courting the same performers. On average, one act comes through for every three or four the fair approaches. Twenty-three artists are slated to take the stage this summer, with six shows already sold out, and Gaines estimates that he probably reached out to more than three times that number.
"Outside of New York and possibly London, we may be the most competitive market in the world," he said. "The area is densely populated with people looking to recreate. It tends to be progressive in terms of people being interested in entertainment, with a lot of nightlife and people out and about looking for things to do."
For Gaines, the concert series is an important component of the Orange County Fair, since nearly 160,000 people turn out for the shows and, in turn, support the fair via ticket sales and increasing awareness.
While Steel Pulse, the Go-Go's, Alan Jackson, Three Dog Night and Joan Jett have performed in Costa Mesa before, the others in this year's lineup are first-timers. Gaines doesn't get to spend much time taking in the music, but this year he hopes to find time for Save Ferris, the Originalites and the English Beat — one of his all-time favorite bands.
Tello echoed the sentiment, estimating that the Originalites have opened for the English Beat four or five times.
"They have a super-groovy style and put on a good show," he said. "It is inspirational for me to watch the lead singer, Dave Wakeling. They're really positive and get people to dance and have a good time, which is what it's all about."
To Gaines, the fact that big-name entertainers are interested in the summer series shows how much ticket sales have grown since it was launched in 2002.
"Let me put it this way: If I were a performer, I would much rather be playing in front of a full house than a half-full house," Gaines said.
Bands' fees vary dramatically from about $50,000 to even $300,000. Daryl Hall and John Oates, who are scheduled for Aug. 8, may not have had any hits this year, but that hasn't stopped ticket-buyers from lining up — according to Gaines, they were the first act to sell out.
"I wish we had another show with them," he said.
For more information, visit http://www.pacamp.com.