April 16 2013 06:02 PM

New band features Alfred Howard and other soulful players

Rebecca Jade
Photo by Peter Holslin

Alfred Howard doesn't know when to quit. A prolific songwriter and percussionist, he seems to start a new band every six months. At The Void last Thursday, he performed with a new one—a soul super-group called Rebecca Jade & The Cold Fact.

But while he's a pretty lively character, Howard isn't the type to hog all the attention. Indeed, his biggest skill might be his ability to get topnotch players from different bands into the same room. That's what happened with this seven-piece, which features some truly soulful musicians—guitarist Sean Martin, bassist Jason Littlefield, keyboardists Josh Rice and Tim Felten and drummer Jake Najor.

In their 50-minute set at The Void—a show that also saw the live debut of local bands Champ and Chess Wars—Jade and Co. spanned a wide spectrum of vintage soul and funk. Among their 12 tunes was an Otis Redding-style slow song, a monster P-Funk-esque banger, some smoky psychedelic soul and a groovy jam with a disco beat. They weren't as artful as an R&B auteur like Adrian Younge, but they brought a lot more harmony, groove and attitude than the average, workaday local bar band.

In opener "Stranded," the band's sultry, in-the-pocket groove turned hot when Martin let out a burst of screaming guitar. In the gospel-tinged "Coming Home," Rice and Felten took off with ecstatic organ lines, while Howard shook a tambourine with rabid intensity. 

Jade's a fine singer, and she really showed her richness and emotional power during the set's slower moments. But, at times, her fun, easygoing style felt a bit too polite—she tended to blend in when she should've been taking command. 

There's no saying what kind of band Howard might dream up next. But with The Cold Fact going into the studio this week, and a new album out by his band The Heavy Guilt, he's best off sticking with what he's got for a while.

Email peterh@sdcitybeat.com or follow him on Twitter at @peterholslin.


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