The end of 2017 also marked the end of an era for one of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s most popular and successful local bands, Cabinet.
Less than two weeks before their short New Year’s Eve tour that stopped at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont on Friday, Dec. 29, the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, Dec. 30, and the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday, Dec. 31, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre jamgrass band announced that they would be going on an indefinite hiatus, a surprise to their longtime fans (called “CabFam”) who have been with them since their formation in 2006, especially since the sextet just released their latest album, “Cool River,” in October.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished in the past 10 years and couldn’t be more grateful to have the support from all of our family, friends, and fans. CabFam is real, and it has brought us much joy to watch all of you interact with us and each other through out the years. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without you. So thank you for being with us throughout this journey and evolving with us,” the band wrote in a statement.
“We don’t know what the future will hold, but we fear not the unknown. We will continue to be positive in our actions and hope to share many more memories with you all as time rolls by.”
After Bethlehem bluegrass band Serene Green opened the show, Cabinet performed two full sets of 23 songs to a sold-out crowd on New Year’s Eve, starting the second set with fiddler Todd Kopec playing “Auld Lang Syne” as singer/mandolinist JP Biondo was joined by his father on vocals, who left his seat to join them on stage.
“Happy New Year, everybody – a great big family, we are!” Biondo said. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s what tonight is all about – it’s all about the love and the family and just spreading that around. Man, it’s a good feeling, isn’t it?”
JP Biondo followed this up with “Gather All Ye” with guitarist Mickey Coviello, and then singer/banjo player Pappy Biondo joined to play “The One,” the first song the original trio ever wrote together and a tune they hadn’t broken out in a long time. With balloons bouncing everywhere and their second set closing with the instrumental “Mysterio,” the venue cut the power as the night grew late, but that didn’t stop the group from playing as other musicians gathered with Cabinet in the audience for “Oh Darlin'” and “Home Now” unplugged in a huddle as if they were gathered around a campfire with old friends, a fitting send-off in the wee hours of the New Year.
The future of the band and its annual Susquehanna Breakdown Music Festival at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton may be uncertain, but with solo projects from Pappy and JP and some members forming an experimental Americana/funk/blues group called Gatos Blancos, there will be no shortage of concerts and good times from these beloved musicians in 2018.
Keith Litzenberger, who served as the emcee, also recorded the show, which can be streamed below via archive.org:
See NEPA Scene’s photos from the fifth annual Susquehanna Breakdown in May here and watch or listen to Episode 8 of the NEPA Scene Podcast to learn more about Cabinet, their new album, and hear two exclusive acoustic performances by JP Biondo.
Cabinet setlist, Dec. 31, 2017, F.M. Kirby Center, Wilkes-Barre:
Old Farmer’s Mill
Old Time Songs
Back to the Basics
Poor Man’s Blues
Shined Like the Sun
Cut Down Tree
Auld Lang Syne
Gather All Ye
Carry Me in a Bucket
His name is Jason Riedmiller. He takes photographs. That is all.