The Suffers: 10-piece soul band from Houston makes Tahoe debut

The Suffers fill the Crown Room Friday in the Houston soul band's Lake Tahoe debut. Photo by Daniel Jackson

The cowboy boots give Kam Franklin away.  She’s from Texas. The Suffers fill the Crown Room Friday in the Houston soul band’s Lake Tahoe debut. Photo by Daniel Jackson

It’s one thing for someone in their late teens or early 20s to hop in a van with friends and try to make a career in music. It’s another to do the same thing for someone in their 30s who has already established a career in a field other than music.

The Suffers are a 10-piece soul group from Houston which falls into the latter category.

“People are already expecting us to fail,” said lead singer Kam Franklin, who quit her job with an investment bank to join her nine male band mates. “This is a big risk that we’re all taking on with no guaranteed result.”

However, upon listening to the Suffer’s newly released debut EP, “Make Some Room,” betting against the band would be foolish.

This is Franklin’s second go-around as a full-time singer. She suffered a compound leg fracture in a 2008 bicycle accident that prevented her from performing and forced her to “get a real job.”

However, the rising, growing Suffers called her back onstage.

Bass player Adam Castaneda and singer-keyboard player Patrick Kelly started the band in 2011 to play weddings and other fun, low-profile shows. It played ska, reggae and rock. But the band kept adding players and gaining popularity. The players are educated musicians in jazz and salsa. After Franklin joined, the group switched to her soulful style.

Franklin said she was 5 years old when she began to sing in her church. She’s one of many contemporary singers from the Houston area who developed their craft in church. Others include Diunna Greenleaf, Sugaray Rayford and Ruthie Foster.

“Yolanda Adams was definitely one of my vocal idols,” she said. “I have spent a lot of work in trying to emulate the howls and growls that come from gospel music but also the soul. It’s very similar to gospel music because there’s so much faith behind it. People really, really believe it. It takes it to a whole other level when you perform that way.”

Although its website calls the Suffers “neo-soul,” the band also plays rock, reggae and ska, which came in handy during a recent show in Seattle.

“Lynval Golding of the Specials was in the audience,” she said. “He came onstage and we played ‘Ghost Town.’ ”

The Suffers will make its first appearance at Lake Tahoe on Friday, Feb. 20 when it will fill the Crown Room stage in the Crystal Bay Casino.

“I encourage people who are having bad days or a rough week to come and see us because we aim to get you in the right headspace where you forget about all that other stuff,” Franklin said. “We’re a very happy band with a very high energy show. We want to make you feel that you are a part of something. I want people to be engaged. I want them to feel something. I like touring because I feel like I get stronger every night.”

The Suffers

Opener: Drop Theory
Red Room after-party: the Steepwater Band
When: 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
Cover charge: free

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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