mcclaren hall stage
Feb 19, 2023
Lively Times

The Suffers Deliver Gulf Coast Soul

Potent Houston band The Suffers delivers their own brand of Gulf Coast soul to the Wachholz Center in Kalispell March 3 and the Hamilton Performing Arts Center March 4.

Founded in 2011, The Suffers built a devoted local following before breaking out internationally in 2015 on the strength of their extraordinary debut EP, Make Some Room, which helped land them performances everywhere from Letterman to NPR’s Tiny Desk.

The band followed it up in 2016 with a self-titled full-length that yielded similarly widespread acclaim along with star-making performances at Newport Folk and on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

By the time the group released their 2018 sophomore effort, Everything Here, their arrival as critical and festival favorites was undeniable: NPR praised the “multidimensional, multicultural possibilities of their take on soul,” while The Guardian called the album an “adventurous” collection that “blends 70s R&B, disco, jazz, and contemporary gospel,” and Rolling Stone proclaimed it “an inspired vision of roots music.”

It Starts With Love, released last spring as the COVID epidemic began to recede, shows powerful lead singer Kam Franklin at her most tender and explosive.

“Over 13 tracks, the band will help you party, pray, lean into love and draw the line when it’s time to walk away,” writes the Austin American-Statesman.

The writing here is bold and self-assured, with fearless lyrics and addictive melodies, and the performances are blistering to match, fueled by buoyant rhythms, muscular horns, and Franklin’s hair-raising vocals.

Certainly there’s a righteous fire burning beneath the surface, but the heart of this record is, as its title would suggest, love: love of the band, love of the music, love of the self.

“Our whole career, we’ve had people ask us, ‘How the hell do you make it work?’” says Franklin, “and I’ve always said, ‘It starts with love and it ends with love.’ If you don’t show up every night with love in your heart, if you don’t leave feeling the same way, this life gets really hard really fast.”

The group is now a seven piece consisting of Franklin, bassist Juliet Terrill, guitarist Kevin Bernier, trumpeter Jon Durbin, trombonist Michael Razo, percussionist Jose Luna, and drummer Nick Zamora.

Of their latest creation, Franklin says: “I wanted to make a record that sounded like Houston to me.”

“You’ve got the hard edges and tough exteriors and hip-hop swagger, but then you’ve also got the sounds of the choir and the soulfulness and even a little bit of twang. I wanted to make something beautiful out of hardship.”

Catch The Suffers
Kalispell: 7 p.m. Friday, March 3 at the The Wachholz Center at Flathead Valley Community College; call 406-756-1400 or order online.

Hamilton: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 4 at the Hamilton Performing Arts Center; call 406-363-7946 or order online.