Friday, March 10, 2017

The Suffers at the Jazz Cafe

I made my way to the Jazz Cafe last night (with Dave Carroll and Dave Williams) to see The Suffers, a soul band from Houston who were making their UK debut. I saw the band at the Blues and Barbecue Festival in New Orleans last year and thought they were promising, especially their bubbly singer Kam Franklin, but not outstanding. I thought that the more intimate surroundings of the Jazz Cafe might suit them rather better than an open air festival. I was wrong. Kam has a decent voice and an energetic stage act, but the band overall was mediocre and the material, much of it far removed from soul, rather bland.
Just as in New Orleans, Kam was wearing a black top and a shortish red skirt - not a flattering look for a plus size lady. She is the centre piece of the band and did her best to whip up some excitement in the audience, which was a pretty good size for a little known band. Kam said that the band had been together for six years, but had no record deal and were relying on word of mouth to get their music heard. They describe themselves, or perhaps have been described by others, as purveyors of Gulf Coast Soul. The seven piece band, including a horn section which gave them some depth, were proficient but not outstanding and to my ears  they lacked any real soul in their playing. It was left to Kam to hold things together and she did her best. They began with Good Day, a reggae styled track from their self-produced CD, and other numbers included Slow It Down, a rather frantic I Think I Love You, the slower Stay and Do Whatever. These are all self penned by the band and combined elements of funk, reggae and rock with a degree of soul, but they lacked a soulful cutting edge. Kam used to be an investment banker, she said, whilst the keyboard player worked at NASA before going full time as a band two years ago. On the evidence of last night they should keep their options open career wise.


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