The Suffers share their soul at High Sierra Music Festival

Tahoe Onstage

Kam Franklin and the Suffers make their debut at the High Sierra Music Festival.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Lead singer Kam Franklin of Houston-based soul group The Suffers has a way of bringing you in. Her powerful yet sensitive vocals and uplifting between-song banter are two of the band’s biggest assets. Combine that with the captivating stage presence of the 7-piece band and it’s no wonder they were able to draw a sizeable, energetic crowd despite the mid-day heat.

Like many up-and-coming bands, The Suffers have had to overcome their fair share of obstacles, with the most recent being having their van stolen a few weeks ago. When asked about their immediate response to the misfortune, Franklin and bassist Adam Castaneda made it clear that cancelling shows was the furthest thing from their minds.

“The first thought was ‘OK, we need a van, how are we gonna get one?’ and that was it,” Castaneda said. “And that’s how we handle all of our problems,” Franklin continued, “We’ll all have moments where we’re feeling discouraged but we always find a way to bounce back over and over again.”

Band members describe their sound as Gulf Coast Soul, a nod to the environment they grew up in as well as the subtle combinations of music that separates them from a more traditional-sounding soul group. The Suffers’ inclusion of reggae, jazz, and even rock ‘n’ roll make for a dynamic live performance. But it’s the pop-sensibility of the songwriting that keeps the audience rapt. The strong hooks of songs such as “I Think I Love You,“Mamas,” and “Giver” were among the many highlights of their High Sierra set; especially at a festival where exploratative improvisation and meandering jams reign supreme, The Suffers showed that a good song is a good song regardless of the setting.

With a performance-heavy summer still ahead of them, The Suffers are also recording new music in the coming months and are looking forward to being patient with the writing and recording process. Franklin explains: “We’re going back into the studio in September so hopefully we’ll get some new music out in early 2018. For us though, we want to make sure that we’re really swinging for the fences. On the first record we were rushed and tired so what you’re hearing is very raw. They were all first and second attempts because folks had to get back to work.”

“Yeah, we all still had day jobs when we did the first one,” Castaneda added.

Franklin seems to thrive in the creative space just as much as she does performing onstage: “It’s nice because we finally have the chance to say, ‘OK, let’s look at this song a different way, let’s try it in a different key, let’s speed it up, let’s slow it down, who do we want to help us?’  I think our fans will be happy that we took a little bit longer to put something out, I don’t want to have a sophomore slump.”

-Spencer Kilpatrick

About Spencer Kilpatrick

Author Spencer Kilpatrick graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in English. He hates the Lakers and his top three emcees are Blu, Earl Sweatshirt and Nas.

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