Sprit of 1960s still alive with Stone Soul

The 1960s are half a century old now, and as far as Matt Phairas is concerned, they haven't aged a day.

Phairas' band, Stone Soul, will play its latest monthly summer concert Friday at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa. The eight-piece group performs classic Motown and soul hits of the Baby Boomer generation, although, judging from the audience the band usually draws, they might have been recorded this year.

"You think of all the songs available from that spectrum, and every one is a huge hit," said Phairas, who sings lead and plays tambourine. "Young kids and old people are all singing the words, because they're so prevalent in society now."

To quote the lyrics of Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street," which Stone Soul performs regularly, "It doesn't matter what you wear, just as long as you are there."

And that's the kind of communal spirit the band hopes for this week as it takes the stage by the Hyatt's outdoor pool.

The Hyatt began booking Stone Soul every third Friday in May, June, July and August after the oldies station K-EARTH 101 recommended the band, according to Hyatt marketing manager Kelly Castady. The hotel initially planned to alternate musical acts, but opted to stick with Stone Soul after it drew an enthusiastic crowd.

"It turned out to be one of those, 'If it isn't broken, don't fix it' situations," Castady said.

Phairas, who works during the day as an IT technician in Culver City, launched the band in 2002 and has played summer concerts around Southern California. Before its gig at the Hyatt, Stone Soul played regularly at B.B. King's Blues Club & Restaurant at Universal CityWalk and at the Twin Palms Restaurant in Pasadena, Phairas said.

The band doesn't aim to do impersonations of famous acts, although it plays songs in the key of the original recordings and occasionally copies the artists' dance moves. Among the acts typically covered are the Temptations, James Brown, Edwin Starr, Otis Redding andthe Isley Brothers.

In a typical two-hour show at the Hyatt, the band often draws up to 300 people, according to Castady.

Phairas said one of his proudest moments came when a spectator approached him and said she thought she had heard a CD of vintage recordings playing when she passed by the Hyatt.

"That's the way people remember them and love them, so we do it as close to the exact way as we can," he said.

If You Go

What: Stone Soul

Where: Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, 21500 Pacific Coast Hwy.

When: Show begins with K-EARTH 101 personality Antonio at 7 p.m. Friday; Stone Soul begins at 8 p.m.

Cost: Free; $10 for valet parking

Information: (714) 698-1234

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