Houston’s The Suffers were still trying to match their funky 1970s “Workin’ at the Car Wash” R&B sound to contemporary reggae and dub music when their first singles and debut Make Some Room EP dropped between 2013 and 2015. They weren’t bad – David Letterman liked them well enough to book their TV debut – but they weren’t doing anything altogether original either. By 2016’s self-titled full-length on Rhyme & Reason Records, they had found their syncopated soulful groove, especially singer Kam Franklin, whose powerful Joplinesque pipes are an interesting alternative to the usual breezy and fluid sounds of female-fronted reggae bands like San Diego’s own Hirie. The album landed them more TV gigs, including The Daily Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live, as well as opening slots on tour with A-listers such as Lake Street Dive and Galactic.
They’ve since played stages throughout Latin America, as well as in Japan and at high profile starmaking mega-events like the Afropunk Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, and Austin’s SXSW 2015, where Esquire magazine named them one of 40 Bands to See. Signing to the Shanachie Entertainment label seems to have invigorated the band and resulted in their most engaging LP to date, last year’s Everything Here album, which stirs a tangy dose of salsa throughout a surprisingly jazzy release. An ongoing support tour is due to arrive at the Soda Bar on March 11.