The Stylistics

By Denis O’Donoghue - Dunstable Gazette/ Luton News 8th December 2004

THE 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.

The Stylistics delivering their velvet soul sound to the delight of our audience

And 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.

"I am telling you now Soul Sister - these Cali-r's are the best"

His soaring falsetto effortlessly handled the quartet's big back
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!"

"Forget about those guys behind us - we are the stars of the night"

So did Eban Brown find it a problem replacing the distinctive voice of
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."

PHOTGRAPHER Ian Philpot on the other side of the camera with The Stylistics

Even though he has settled into the Stylistics' still-rigorous touring
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 Records label.

SID 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.

But 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.

"It's 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".

Say cheese girls - I am staying cool

It was also reunion time for two families whose roots are deep in
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?"


Back to the Cali-Rchive

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6th December 2003

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20th October 2001

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12th May 2001

Christmas Cracker Party
25thNovember 2000

George McCrae
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