For many musicians, playing a big festival in the middle of downtown in a city in your home state would be a dream come true. But for Houston Gulf Coast soul band The Suffers, their performance at Dallas’ Homegrown Festival a couple weeks ago was the beginning of a nightmare.
It started on the drive down, when the band’s van gave out.
“It was one of those breakdowns where it was smoking but it wasn’t completely dead yet, so we were able to drive it 15 minutes to get it to the dealership,” says lead singer Kam Franklin. But it was a very risky drive there.”
They left the van, along with the trailer attached to it, at the night drop at Randall Reed’s Park Cities Ford of Dallas on Inwood Road. The next day, the vehicle was checked in and the repair order was placed. At some point, the trailer was detached from the van and moved to the employee parking lot to store while the car was being fixed. Coincidentally, that was one of few areas at the dealership with no security cameras. The guard was watching over it, though, and saw the trailer in the lot at 4 or 5 a.m. that morning. When he made another round an hour later, it was gone.
“We did have a trailer alarm and tracking device system in the trailer, and it appears as though it was disengaged,” Franklin says with a delirious laugh. “So, all this stuff that we spent money on became pointless. We had what was supposed to be some of the best locks that money can buy, but when they damaged the door to get in [it damaged the system]…It was just one thing after another thing after another thing.”
Fortunately, the trailer was located by Dallas police last weekend. Unfortunately, it was empty and damaged. When The Suffers dropped it off at the dealership, it was stocked full of equipment–about $30,000 worth. Among the items stolen were two Nord keyboards, a digital monitor rack, cables, microphones, a trombone stand, and much more
“I don’t have a full gear list in front of me but it was a lot of stuff,” says Franklin.
The band took some of their more prized instruments with them before dropping off the van, but they didn’t think they’d need to worry about the rest.
“Anyone who’s taken their car to a dealership to get work done, getting your car stolen before you get back is not at the top of your list.”
They’re not strangers to Dallas. The eight-piece band has sold out the Kessler Theater, packing the stage with strings and horns and drums and guitars and belting out a mix of funk, soul, and hip-hop—all voiced by Franklin, who has one of the most powerful voices in Texas music. The Suffers have been scrambling around to borrow instruments and equipment so that they can still play their scheduled shows in Baton Rouge and New Orleans this weekend.
“It’s been a really exhausting experience. We’re not in the game of being victims…we’re used to being artists and getting attention from that, not from getting our stuff stolen, so this has just been a really trying time right now,” says Franklin. However, seeing the outpour of support has given the musicians the motivation they needed to keep on rockin’. “It’s been a really beautiful 36 hours amidst the craziness.”
After much urging from friends, the band launched a Go Fund Me campaign on the evening of Tuesday, April 23 to help replace their lost equipment. I talked to Franklin on Wednesday. As of writing this, they’ve already surpassed their goal, raising an impressive $22,000. Hopefully this can get the musicians back on the road. And hopefully they’ll be back in Dallas soon, under much better circumstances.