Nobody Is Suffering With The Suffers
As soon as The Suffers left the Fort Stage at Newport Folk Festival last July, I knew I would be a lifelong fan of this marvelous Gulf Coast soul band from Houston, Texas (Kam Franklin, the powerhouse lead singer, ensures you know from where they hail during the first few minutes of their set). I was fortunate to be able to see them at their first Boston show at Great Scott.
I had the chance to interview Adam Casteneda, the bass player, at Newport and discovered a bit more about the band than would be obvious merely from watching one of their high-energy shows.
The Suffers pulled in a larger audience than I expected to see on a Tuesday night that was also a Jewish holiday. Kam asked how many people saw them at Newport and several hands were raised, but most were newcomers to the world of The Suffers. When I looked around the room during the show, all I saw were people grinning from ear to ear.
This band plays happy music and they are a joy to experience. Gulf Coast soul is an amalgam of the various styles that are prevalent in the Houston area. I did not know that there are soul, funk, Latin and reggae heritages in Houston, but evidence of all styles is obvious in their music. Mostly, though, I hear soul music loud and clear!
And what soul it has. They start each and every show with a ritual that reminds me of what sports teams do before games.
The band consists of Kam Franklin on lead vocals, Adam Casteneda on bass, Pat Kelly on keys, Michael Razo on trombone, Kevin Bernier on guitar, Jon Durbin on trumpet, Cory Wilson on saxophone, Nick Zamora on drums, Jose “Chapy” Luna on percussion, and Alex Zamora on lead guitar, with some members providing backing vocals as well.
All are excellent musicians and fun to watch, but at this show I especially enjoyed watching Alex who seemed to get into a trance-like state during much of the show.
After seeing this ten-piece band on the large stage at Newport, I wondered how they would fit onto this fairly small stage, but they told me they’ve played on smaller stages including the back of a van for a special event! That must have been amazing to watch! Kam was a bit restricted from moving around as much as she likes, but she is a professional and did well with what she had (as did the entire band).
Currently, their only release is an EP entitled Make Some Room, but they have recorded their as yet unnamed first full-length album. You can be a part of their Kickstarter campaign by clicking here.
This band’s star is rising quickly. Catch them now – and later as well – while you can see them in more intimate venues.
There were two opening acts. First up, for a short set of soul music, was Gold Blood & Associates. They have a good sound and were an appropriate choice to warm up the audience.
They even have a woman trombone player, Sara Honeywell, which is something I do not often see.
The next opener was Bhi Bhiman, who I have seen twice already this year.
Bhi is an excellent songwriter, as evidenced on his recent release, Rhythm & Reason. Touring with both The Suffers as well as Rhiannon Giddens, Bhi has the wonderful opportunity to get his music in front of many new people. He has a terrific backing band as well – Akie Bermiss on keyboards, Ari Cohen on bass, and Attis Clompton on drums (and great smiles).
What a wonderful night! I left the venue with the same big smile I sported all evening! It was even worth tolerating the bad lighting (at least for photos) and small stage to see The Suffers again!
Ticket courtesy of The Suffers; all opinions are my own.
Posted on September 29, 2015, in concert photos, concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged Adam Casteneda, Alex Zamora, Bhi Bhiman, boston, Cory Wilson, Gold Blood & Associates, Great Scott, Gulf Coast soul music, Jon Durbin, Jose Chapy Luna, Kam Franklin, Kevin Bernier, Michael Razo, Nick Zamora, Pat Kelly, The Suffers. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.