Kingston rockers SUZE bring new lineup, songs to Jazz Cafe Christmas show
PLAINS TWP. — For the seventh year in a row, Kingston based rock band SUZE is poised to put on their annual Christmas show, but this year’s holiday spirit is going to be a bit funkier than the ghosts of Christmas past.
SUZE Christmas: Part 7 takes place at 10 p.m. Dec. 25, at the River Street Jazz Cafe. The evening of music features special guests the Mazer/Jump/Sabb Trio and Gino Lispi. The headliners and hosts have a new lineup and a slightly different sound to reveal to local fans.
Founding member and lead vocalist/guitarist Adam McKinley said the SUZE holiday show started when the band was asked to play a Christmas night in 2010.
“At the time, I think it was because most places weren’t open,” McKinley said. “We figured we could do really well. After we did it twice, it seemed like it was our show, and we’ve made it a point to keep it a tradition.”
That tradition has turned into an annual rendezvous point for fans who have been with SUZE since its beginning in 2007.
“Some of those people who used to come see us in those first couple years, who were fresh out of college and don’t live around here anymore, make it a point to come to the Christmas show, because they know we’ll be playing and they’ll be home for the holidays,” McKinley said.
In addition to the usual suspects, McKinley said the crowd has expanded year to year.
“It’s grown,” he said. “You’ll see new faces that you haven’t seen before.”
In front of old and new faces, the band will introduce its current lineup to its home audience at the Christmas show, a foursome that has rehearsed over the last seven months and played four live shows together outside of Luzerne County.
Along with frontman McKinley and tenured lead guitarist Adam Gabriel the lineup is comprised of drummer Jason Stefanski, who has been the group’s drummer for a year and a half, and bassist Brian Gildea who joined the band in May.
“We got lucky with both of them, because guys of their caliber aren’t available all the time,” McKinley said of the rhythm section.
Stefanski, who came from funk outfit Woody Browns Project and reggae ensemble Subnotics, has a percussion style that caters to funk, soul and R&B.
“In terms of writing new music, that’s the direction we’ve been taking, getting a little away from the rock side of things and into the funky, groovy, make-you-dance kind of stuff,” McKinley said.
With different musicians in place, SUZE created two original records, 2012’s “When the World is Not Enough” and 2014’s “Sounds From Thursday Evening,” and the band had a volume of unrecorded material ready for a third record that was shelved after a lineup change.
“We started working on those tunes, but some of them were written when the band was in a different place,” McKinley said. “The first few shows in October were for us to figure out what direction we were going in. We’ve been able to hone in on the songs that worked the best for this current outfit.”
In addition to revisiting written material, the band has written new material over the last month and a half and has plenty of unheard music to play for their audience.
McKinley said Stefanski and Gildea have elevated forward looking thinking in the band.
“That’s the great thing about having them,” McKinley said. “It’s different perspectives and outlooks and experiences. There’s a different approach, and it’s working, and we’re all very happy with where we are at this point.”
SUZE plans to book various shows in the new year and launch an official website after the holidays. Watch for announcements on the band’s Facebook page at facebook.com/SUZEmusic.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO
What: SUZE Christmas: Part 7 featuring special guests the Mazer/Jump/Sabb Trio and Gino Lispi
Where: River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 North River Street, Plains Township
When: 10 p.m. Dec. 25
Additional information: Admission is $8 at the door.