The Suffers introduce ‘Gulf Coast soul’ to Steamboat with free concert Saturday
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For years, Adam Castaneda watched the 1978 Jamaican film, “Rockers,” once a week.
The film follows the story of a group of lesser-known reggae musicians trying to live the life of musicians with the hustle and struggle that often comes with that lifestyle.
There’s a particular scene in the film where the main character says, “I and I a sufferah.”
“Basically the meaning of that line, we interpreted, was that we’re all in this together — we’re all in the same boat,” Castaneda said. “At the time when we decided to have that be our name — originally ‘The Sufferers but shortened to The Suffers for grammatical dissonance — we felt that way too. We were a group of friends, who were also musicians, just trying to live our lives, not trying to be professional at that time — but music was just what we did.”
This was the genesis for the name of the Houston-based, eight-piece, self-described “Gulf Coast soul” ensemble, The Suffers, who will make its way to Steamboat Springs for the first time to headline the Rock the Boat Free Concert Series at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on the Steamboat Stage in Gondola Square at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
“Gulf Coast soul doesn’t really exist as a genre, but it does in our minds,” Castaneda said. “It’s this amalgamation of different musical styles that we’ve known and that feel natural to us. It’s a musical gumbo that doesn’t really exist in a lot of places.”
Getting their start in 2011, the Suffers were merely a jam band that got together on the weekends.
“Me and keyboard player Patrick Kelly just sat down one day and put together an all-star list of people we knew would be the best lineup of musicians for a band,” he said. “When I joined the band, I was in three other bands: a Latino-ska band, a reggae folk band and a hip-hop band.”
That was until they got the call from David Letterman in January 2015.
“When we got the call, we knew we’d either have to go on tour and release an album, so we took a chance and jumped,”Castaneda said. “We quit our day jobs to become a band.”
After their Letterman appearance, the Suffers’ popularity took off as they toured the country — about 200 to 300 days on the road, said Castaneda — headlining festivals and shows on five continents as well as national venues like Austin City Limits, Newport Folk Festival, Voodoo Music + Arts Experience and SXSW.
They also made appearances on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Tiny Desk Concerts” and on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”
“Early on, we pushed ourselves to share the bill with bands that sounded nothing like us,” Castaneda said. “It broadened our influences, and there was always different crowds that would show up.”
The Suffers consist of Kam Franklin as lead singer, Castaneda on bass, Kevin Bernier on guitar, Jon Durbin on trumpet, Michael Razo on trombone, Jose “Chapy” Luna on percussion, Kelly on keyboard and vocals and Nick Zamora on drums and vocals.
On July 13, the Suffers will release their new record, “Everything Here,” which features special guests Lyle Divinsky (The Motet) and additional vocal production from Lili K (Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa).
“We really took our time with this new record,” Castenada said. “It’s a reflection of all the things we’ve experience the past two years — quitting our jobs, being on TV, traveling around the world.
“Our hope is that the music makes people want to dance and to feel something — to feel good about themselves and the world around them and to take that with them when they leave,” Castenada added.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Explore a mix of in-person and virtual events happening this weekend in Routt County.