A-list musicians bring the ‘Real Deal’ to Visalia

Pete Ortega and the Real Deal brings some of the music industry’s best musicians together for a soulful show


VISALIA – Song lyrics are what hold our attention, but rhythm, riffs, beats and bass lines are what grab it. History always remembers the frontmen and solo artists when some of the greatest works come from superbly creative people often nebulously referred to as studio musicians. The phrase implies the studio makes the music, but in reality it is the musicians who make the studio, the sold out stadiums, platinum records, and songs that shape our memories of ourselves and the world. 

Los Angeles saxophonist Pete Ortega is one of the music makers. A Berklee College of Music graduate, composer, and horn-arranger, Ortega has been lighting up the Los Angeles music seen with his unique brand of instrumental music. Most recently he toured with Stevie Wonder on the Songs in the Key of Life tour from 2014-2016 and recorded tenor and baritone saxophone on Beyonce’s grammy award-winning album titled “Lemonade” (2016). Ortega has also shared the stage with artists such as El Debarge, Queen Latifa, Ne-yo, Lionel Ritchie, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, Janelle Monae, Jill Scott, and India Irie to name a few. 

Ortega is now touring with The Real Deal, a collection of A-list musicians whose names you might not have heard, but their sounds are undeniable. This powerhouse group’s common thread is touring with the great Stevie Wonder. The band includes Stanley Randolph on drums, Errol Cooney on guitar, Brandon Brown on bass, and Ron Gilmore, Jr. on keys. These are some of the music industries most sought-after musicians, having worked with Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Fergie, Christina Aguilera, The Jacksons, The Black-Eyed Peas, Lauren Hill, J Cole, amongst many more. 

Randolph is one of the most in-demand drummers for musicians and producers around the greater Los Angeles area. He made a name for himself in the drumming world for his work with the Wonder. Brown was musical director for The Jacksons and also has collaborated with Boyz II Men, Isaac Hayes, TLC, and more. His resume is beefy; he’s even played bass on Three Six Mafia’s Academy Award-winning “Hard Out Here For A Pimp”! He previously worked with Ortega as the driving force behind the Brandon Brown Collective. Cooney played stadiums with Christina Aguilera and toured with Stevie Wonder but is best known for his work with American Idol winner Phillip Phillips.

Gilmore is not only an in-house producer for Dreamville Records but recorded keyboard for rapper J Cole, whose third studio album 2014 Forest Hills Drive won Best Rap Album at the Billboard Music Awards in 2014. 

Pete Ortega and The Real Deal will be performing a funky and soulful two-hour set on Saturday, Aug. 18 at The Cellar Door, 101 W. Main St. in Visalia. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at ticketweb.com. Doors open at 6 p.m. with music beginning at 7:30 p.m.  


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