Jason Riedmiller

CONCERT REVIEW: Cabinet makes triumphant hometown return to Peach Music Festival in Scranton

CONCERT REVIEW: Cabinet makes triumphant hometown return to Peach Music Festival in Scranton
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When Cabinet began their “indefinite hiatus” following their New Year’s Eve show at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, it seemed that the popular Scranton/Wilkes-Barre jamgrass band would break a streak. Cabinet may be the only band to have played every Peach Music Festival since its inception in 2012. They are definitely the only group from Northeastern Pennsylvania to do so. I could look this up, but that would ruin the intro to this review – let’s just go with it.

On Thursday, July 19, a little after 4 p.m. and seven months and almost 19 days after their last performance, Cabinet was back, entering The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton to rousing applause and opening with “Treesap,” the first song they wrote as a group. “The Dove” flowed seemlessly into “Mysterio,” and soon it was obvious that the time away had not affected the band’s synergy. In fact, the break seemed to invigorate them as they reformed on the same stage they headlined many times before at their own Susquehanna Breakdown Music Festival.

The pickin’ had the thousands-strong Peach Stage crowd grinnin’ and singin’ along to the neo-Americana tunes “Eleanor” and “Caroline” as fiddle player Todd Kopec soared along to the tight string arrangements of the cousins JP (mandolin, vocals) and Pappy Biondo (banjo, vocals), Mickey Coviello (acoustic guitar, vocals), and Dylan Skursky (electric bass, upright bass), with a back beat provided by the welcome return of original drummer Jami Novak.

The big stage and even bigger light show could hardly match the power of fan favorite “Heavy Rain” or the energy of the audience, made up of longtime fans and many impressed newcomers. After a short break of band introductions and thank yous, Cabinet appropriately finished with the explosive instrumental “Susquehanna Breakdown.” In a weekend packed with nationally touring jam bands with decades of experience, the hometown boys skillfully held their own and seemed to be the biggest draw on Thursday afternoon.

“We thank you for coming out and supporting us. This is our only show of the year, so we appreciate you being here,” JP Biondo told everyone between songs. “We love seeing all the [Cabinet] shirts and familiar faces out there. We love you guys – we really do.”

The CabFam’s wild cheering left no doubt they wanted more. The only question is when (or if) they will get it… at least in this form. Over the next few days, JP Biondo played his solo material and some covers with Christopher Kearney and Ellen Siberian Tiger, JP and Pappy provided a VIP set as a duo, and Pappy and Skursky performed in their latest “experimental Americana funk blues” project, Gatos Blancos, with Shavertown guitarist Justin Mazer. This was Cabinet’s only scheduled concert of 2018, but it gave locals hope that that “hiatus” won’t last forever.

See NEPA Scene’s photos from the entire 2018 Peach Fest, including photos of Gatos Blancos and JP and Pappy, here. See photos from the last Susquehanna Breakdown here and Cabinet’s 2017 “farewell” show here.

Cabinet setlist, July 19, 2018, Peach Music Festival at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, Scranton:

The Dove
Cut Down Tree
Old Time Songs
Pine Billy
Heavy Rain
Susquehanna Breakdown

Photos by Jason Riedmiller Photography:

Photos by Keith Perks/1120 Studios: