Alfred Howard debuts The Midnight Pine

By Peter Holslin

Songwriter teams with singer on new band—plus, more music news

Songwriter / percussionist Alfred Howard has been keeping busy. In between his work with The Heavy Guilt and The Black Sands, hes been doing a new project, The Midnight Pine.

In the band, Howard teams up with 21-year-old singer Shelbi Bennett to play sad, quiet country-folk tunes. Onstage theyre joined by guitarist Sean Martin, and they recently put out an album, Awake Now, featuring a big cast of collaborators, including Black Sands keyboardist Tim Felten, who recorded the album in his home studio.

Howard and Bennett started the band after a chance meeting at Cow, an Ocean Beach record store where Howard works. Bennett was buying DVDs when she mentioned that she was a singer. Not long afterward, they met at her place to record a demo of the first song on the album, Stolen Wind.

I almost cried; I thought it was so beautiful, Howard says.

Bennett agrees: As soon as that song was recorded, it was like, We should probably follow through with this. Theyll play at Solace and the Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas on Sunday, Dec. 2, and at Tin Can Ale House on Dec. 19. Theyll celebrate the release of Awake Now at Jett Gallery on Jan. 12.

This isnt the last weve heard from Howard, though: Hes started a soul band with Felten and singer Rebecca Jade. Were gonna record an album that sounds like Daptone listened to Radiohead, he says.

DJs Phil Aye, Alex Villalobos and others will spin techno, house and disco at a Hurricane Sandy fundraiser at Kava Lounge on Friday, Nov. 30. All proceeds go to nonprofit medical clinics in New York and New Jersey through the organization Direct Relief International.

Email or follow him on Twitter at @peterholslin.