The first time I saw 10-piece Houston big band The Suffers, it was at a small venue in Washington, D.C., called DC9. The club was barely big enough to contain all the horns, guitars and percussion, not to mention the undeniable force of the music.
At first, I couldn't pull my attention away from irrepressible singer Kam Franklin, whose down-to-earth but uplifting presence put a huge smile on my face. But as The Suffers' set progressed, I became increasingly enchanted with the band, which was part Archie Bell & The Drells and part James Brown, with a touch of New Orleans and even Jamaican reggae.
It was a perfect mix of power and delicacy, as the band held back at moments only to steamroll me when my guard was down. The group has only two EPs, with an album on the way, and trust me: 2016 will be The Suffers' year. Look for the band on far bigger stages soon enough.
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Nick Michael, Julia Reihs; Production Assistant: Kate Drozynski; Photo by Julia Reihs/NPR
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