After what seemed to be a never-ending week of frustration, I found myself back at Rockwood Music Hall to discover some musical delight. Earlier that week a band was featured on The Late Show with David Letterman that blew everyone away. Truth be told, they did the same for me that night at Rockwood. Of course, the crew I am referring to are The Suffers, who provided soul funk indulgence into the night. Luckily, these guys were on my radar for a while now so it was an absolute pleasure to finally see what musical magic they were capable of live. Boy, they did not disappoint in the least.
The Suffers are one hot band, not to mention a large one too. The ten-piece crew consists of Nick Zamora on drums, Adam Castaneda on bass, Alex Zamora and Kevin Bernier on guitars, Cory Wilson on saxophone, Jon Durbin on trumpet, Michael Razo on trombone, Jose Luna on percussion, Patrick Kelly on keyboard, and the star of the show Kam Franklin who sings us all to funk heaven. Phew! That is a mouthful of talent. With a big band feel with a classic soul embrace, The Suffers are a breath of fresh air in this crowded music scene.
Upon my arrival, there were already two lines forming outside of Rockwood. From start to finish there were excited fans who eagerly awaited entry into the musical odyssey that had already begun! A moment of panic came once I realized that the venue might be too full for extra guests. As luck would have it, I was able to squeeze my way into the already packed house. Listeners could not even make it to the bar for drinks, that’s how full it was! The Suffers were well underway with their music mayhem as I inched ever closer past the main entrance of Rockwood. I only made it a few steps on top of the staircase to peer through the crowd to see soul sister Kam serenading the audience with her voice. The men, who made up the instrumentals, were clad in suits and were obviously enjoying every moment up there. My first thought was how amazing it was that the ten-piece band successfully fit onto the small stage. What looked like a cramped and uncomfortable performance area, seemed not to faze any of them at all. They were completely focused on having a good time and perhaps were still on a contact high from their Letterman experience.
Kam is the star of the show. There is no argument in that regard. However, the band that supports her was perfectly into the groove. Every single one of them knew their part and performed them exceptionally well. Synchronization was the key element in their funk. Each instrument orchestrated the music machine that compelled the rest of us to dance all the way. From the horn section to the bass and drums/percussion, all the way to the guitar and keys, the music came alive. The horn section reminded me of the current line-up for Bruce Springsteen’s band that continues to astound me every time I hear a live performance. With a big band sound, all songs are so much better! Perhaps the strongest sound felt that night came from the thumping of the bass. Man, that bass was vibrating the place all the way to the core of each person there. You could not help but feel it. The crew even provided Kam with a chorus here and there with their voices that just added a thrill to it all. A chorus that each band member brings out is a classic part to their music. All the musicians unleashed a power through their individual contributions to the harmony at hand. That power was felt at best in the solos. Yes, that’s right, the 10-piece crew had solo moments for all the instruments. I loved that the most. Listeners could easily hear and feel the talent blasting out of these musicians. The solos were priceless.
They are an old school funk band that is helmed by one powerful singer, rocking out an amazing Afro. Kam, clad in her gorgeous sparkling silver dress, was unstoppable that night. Listeners were part of a funk journey that compelled them to bounce on the dance floor. Kam takes control as the music grows. She never seems to take a moment’s peace as she continues belching out that voice non-stop! It was at times completely mesmerizing to watch her sing and live in the moment of her sensations. All the fans were in the groove, almost floating as they let the music rush over them. I closed my eyes and joined in.
Kam took a break at one point to regale us with a story of her American Idol failure. She auditioned a few years back and did not make the cut. Apparently a guy in a Batman suit in front of her and a woman in a bikini and a diaper made it to the next round! Kam gladly admits she has made a better career choice and remarks that those two candidates never got a chance to be on Letterman, which spurred a roar of laughter from the crowd. She and the band then graced us with a performance of ‘Mr. Postman’ that was perfection.
If you are looking for a band that can provide you with that gospel embrace, look no further. The Suffers are cool and hip in every shape and form. It is hard to find another bunch like these. A mesh of talent and musical prowess will be launching these guys into superstardom before we know it. If you still do not believe me, just go see them live or buy their albums. I promise that you will experience the joy and exuberant sound they provide. Get down with your bad self and jam to The Suffers.