Sufferin’ Moses Soothes the Soul With Bluesy Rock n’ Roll
By Miranda Steadman | Contributing Writer
Local band Sufferin’ Moses is bringing the blues to Folly Beach with their soulful sound and gritty riffs. Influenced by classic blues artists like Freddy King, Albert King, and B.B. King (no relation), buckle your seatbelt for some southern rock, country, blues and motown music before checking out this troupe.
Frontman Zach Quillen first began performing in front of live audiences at the early age of 12. He is grateful for the solid music program at his school while growing up in Dover, Ohio. Only a short trip from The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Dover honored these rock roots with a jazz band, concert choir, and marching band. Quillen began playing college bars in the area at 19. While attending Ohio University, Quillen majored in Choral Music Education with a minor in Piano. Following graduation, Quillen continued his studies at OU on music theory, when he met Brad Huffman.
“I identified with the blues,” Quillen said, “and Brad agreed.” The two musicians, whom had both experienced the loss of their fathers, collaborated in the spirit of musical healing. The duo played at the bars Red Brick, 19 South and The Pub in the college town of Athens, Ohio. They held the honor of being the only band ever hired to play at The Pub, but found that the local music scene was not as welcoming of the blues as they wished. In 2015, Sufferin’ Moses traveled to the Semifinals for the International Blues Challenge held in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Getting mad at the blues is like getting mad at Advil, or doctors… it’s about healing,” Quillen stated. In search of a blues loving music scene, the band set a course to Charleston, South Carolina in 2008. Once in Charleston, the duo collaborated with Ohio native Sean Harshaw on drums to form the current three piece arrangement of Sufferin’ Moses.
“Instead of playing what the audience wanted to hear, we wanted to make our sound good enough to make people interested in our music,” Quillen explained. Growing up, Quillen listened to oldies and wanted to recreate that sound. “It was like a self-soothing thing for me as a kid,” Quillen disclosed. “We’ve tried to be real honest with ourselves musically, we just want to write music that is genuine,” Quillen said. Quillen has recently been experimenting with the sounds of slide guitar and has played bass, trombone and the steel drums in the past. “Now I’m livin’ on blues power,” he stated. This power has propelled him around the Charleston area, with gigs at bars and restaurants throughout the city.
By choosing venues with business models, as underground as their sound, Sufferin Moses has found a friendly following here in the Lowcountry. The trio will play Surf Bar on Saturday, June 10. In the past, they have performed on Folly, at Chico Feo, St. James Gate, Loggerheads Beach Grill and Drop-In Deli. Sufferin’ Moses frequently plays at The Tattooed Moose on John’s Island and downtown at The Tattooed Moose and Smoke BBQ on King Street at their other location in Mount Pleasant. You can find them rocking local breweries such as Revelry and Low Tide.
“As a group, we have taken further strides in the past 2 years than over the 10 year span we have been playing together,” Quillen revealed. When Quillen is not busy writing song material for the band, he enjoys teaching music theory via guitar or piano. As ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons said, “The blues is a mighty long road. Or it could be a river, one that twists and turns and flows into a sea of limitless musical potential.” Join the musical journey of Sufferin’ Moses Saturday, June 10 at Surf Bar on Folly Beach!