Denis O’Donoghue - Dunstable Gazette/ Luton News
8th December 2004
Stylistics delivered an early festive present to 900 happy
Revelers at the Cali-R Christmas party on Saturday night.
Just as they did last year, the Philadelphia-based quartet
produced a hit-packed, perfectly performed and expertly
choreographed show, which had the enthusiastic audience
in the palm of their hands from the first notes.
Stylistics delivering their velvet soul sound to
the delight of our audience
although Luton's Ron Horniblew, acclaimed as World's Best
Santa at The Father Christmas Winter Games two weeks ago,
was on hand to greet the crowd as they arrived, he definitely
wasn't the star of the show! That accolade belonged to
Stylistics' lead vocalist Eban Brown, the 32-year-old
from New Jersey, who four years ago seamlessly did what
seemed impossible by replacing Stylistics icon Russell
Thompkins Junior when the veteran quit to go solo.
am telling you now Soul Sister - these Cali-r's
are the best"
soaring falsetto effortlessly handled the quartet's big
Catalogue of hits, while Van Fields and founder members
Airrion Love and Herb Murrell supplied a velvet-voiced
backdrop - and all to the understated backing of a band
that knows not to to drown out the vocals. As Love said
afterwards: "That's the way we like them to play
the music. We're sure not a rock and roll band!"
about those guys behind us - we are the stars of
did Eban Brown find it a problem replacing the distinctive
The Stylistics? "Not really," he said after
the show, "because I wasn't expecting to join. I
did know that there was a chance, but I had been singing
lead with the Delfonics and working on my jazz projects
when the call suddenly came from Herb, so it was unanticipated.
I just think it's been a blessing that I was able to join
the group and help to keep it at the same level that it's
been at for so many years."
Ian Philpot on the other side of the camera with
though he has settled into the Stylistics' still-rigorous
schedule (Hong Kong and Japan next after a four-day break),
he has managed to keep his solo career on track. Away
from the soul sound, he is an accomplished jazz guitarist/vocalist
in the George Benson mode and has recently released a
jazz album, "Restless Soul", on his own Stardom
HUDSON Introducing DIANE ILKA (who's grandfather,
Edwin Green, built the California ballroom) enjoys
a night at the Cali-r. Her book about the Ballroom
is due out in the spring.
for the Dunstable audience, his soul voice was the attraction.
One fan Tricia Gardner waited patiently afterwards to
tell him how she loved the show. Tricia from Hampton Court,
has made one of her regular pilgrimages back to Dunstable,
where she had been a barmaid at The Crown in the 70s,
to reunite with old friends.
not about the bands, even though I was so glad Sid (promoter
Sid Hudson) brought back The Stylistics - it's the atmosphere,
and the music that Sid plays, and meeting friends again".
cheese girls - I am staying cool
was also reunion time for two families whose roots are
California Ballroom history. Diane Ilka - grand-daughter
of Edwin Green, who built the ballroom; daughter of John
and sister of the late Mick, who both ran it for many
years - attended her first event with one of her sons,
Peter, and her partner, Steve Gammon. Joining them were
two of Edwin's other grandchildren, Tom and Gemma Green.
Their father, Cedric, had been planning to attend but
stayed with his wife, Deborah, who is recovering from
a midweek horse riding accident.
Sid Hudson called Diane on stage from where she thanked
the audience and told them: "My grandfather said
that nobody remembers you once you're dead, but by coming
here you are keeping the California alive." She reinforced
the point later when she said: "It's all credit to
Sid for what he's done to keep the memory alive. And isn't
it wonderful that he can get the Stylistics, who can play
to 10,000 stadium crowds, to play for 900 people?"