Rich Howells

NEPA jamgrass band Cabinet will play both virtual and in-person concerts this summer

NEPA jamgrass band Cabinet will play both virtual and in-person concerts this summer
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Whether you’re staying safely at home or venturing outside this summer, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre jamgrass group Cabinet has a live concert experience for you.

This weekend, the band will play two back-to-back webcast shows from Ardmore Music Hall in suburban Philadelphia that will be live streamed via nugs.tv.

This first on Friday, June 26 will be a rare unplugged session, followed by a full band performance on Saturday, June 27. Each webcast is $9.99 or $14.99 for both shows, and they’ll host virtual meet and greets for people who want to hang out and chat before the shows.

Tickets are on sale now on nugs.tv, and the first 50 buyers for each night will get an exclusive invite to the Zoom party. Multi-track audio recordings of the performances can also be pre-ordered for $10 via Eventbrite.

Cabinet’s only 2019 festival performance was headlining the Grateful Get Down in Biglerville, Pennsylvania near Gettysburg, and this week, they announced that they will return to headline the event again in just a few weeks in a new location.

The Grateful Get Down 5 will feature two nights and four sets of Cabinet, along with Fletcher’s Grove, Blind Owl Band, Willie Jack & the Northern Light, Crippled But Free, Dee Maple Band, Odd Pocket Selector, Moonlicker, Mysterytrain, Dave Brown & the Dishonest Fiddlers, Mysterytrain, and Urban Shaman Attack on Friday, July 10 through Sunday, July 12 at the Blain Picnic Grounds (532 Picnic Grove Rd., Blain, PA). This is a BYOB, rain or shine outdoor event with two stages of music running until 4:30 a.m., camping, food and craft vendors, children’s activities, and more.

Weekend passes are on sale for $90 now via Eventbrite, along with RV and camper tickets for $30.

With the coronavirus pandemic still a concern, Cabinet and the organizers at Bear’s Picnic Events are only selling 25 percent of the venue’s capacity, and everyone entering must possess a face mask, have their temperature taken upon entry, sign a waiver, and practice social distancing.

The last concert that Cabinet was able to play in person for a live crowd was a “New Year’s Eve Extravaganza” at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg on Dec. 31, another annual show by Bear’s Picnic Events, so their dedicated fans are probably eager to see them again, especially after the band recently released their first new music in over two and a half years.

The new single, “Silver Sun,” was released on May 8 via Astrology Days Records, vocalist and banjo player Pappy Biondo’s new label.

“We got a session in just before the pandemic hit at Sugarhouse Soundworks in Vermont. ‘Silver Sun’ is a product of that hang. More to come!” Cabinet posted on their social media accounts that day.

“Big thanks to Brian Gorby for the groove contributions. Also to Ralphferd Knaider for keeping us smiling. Shout out to Roger Stauss for the engineering/mixing/mastering/all around good vibes.”

Garnering a huge local following and touring the country since forming in 2006, Cabinet declared an “indefinite hiatus” in late 2017, releasing their last studio album, “Cool River,” on Oct. 13, 2017 and playing a “farewell” concert at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre that New Year’s Eve. They have since split into various other projects, including solo efforts by Pappy and vocalist/mandolin player JP Biondo, Pappy and JP’s Owl & Crow duo, Pappy’s Kick & Banjo duo and new King Zeek solo project, and an experimental Americana/funk/blues band called Gatos Blancos featuring Pappy and bassist Dylan Skursky. Drummer Jami Novak continues to play in the Village Idiots as well as other local bands like The Dishonest Fiddlers, fiddler Todd Kopec started an electronic DJ project called Odd Pocket Selector and, most recently, JP helped form The Mule Team with longtime friends.

For five years, the band also hosted and performed multiple sets at their own successful music festival at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton, the Susquehanna Breakdown, attracting national acts and earning write-ups by major music publications like Rolling Stone. Their Peach Fest reunion at The Pavilion on July 19, 2018 was well-received by both longtime fans and newcomers alike so, in 2019, they headlined the Grateful Get Down 4 in Biglerville near Gettysburg, reunited with Railroad Earth at the Pat Garrett Amphitheater in Bethel a few months later, jammed at XL Live in Harrisburg and Ardmore Music Hall near Philadelphia around Thanksgiving, and ended the year by headlining a “New Year’s Eve Extravaganza” at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg in Camp Hill.

While the group is still split up across different states and bands at the moment, the “CabFam” is always waiting for the next update, so the promise of more songs to come has generated a lot of buzz in a time that looks pretty bleak for the music industry. The band also updated their website and bio:

“We were just kids having fun, experimenting and making music with each other… still are!”

Cabinet wears their influences like badges, honoring the canon of roots, rock, reggae, psychedelia, blues, bluegrass, country, and folk, weaving these sounds into a patchwork Americana quilt. But this music isn’t romanticizing or rehashing the past. Cabinet makes it mark on today. The steady aim of their harmonies soar straight onto target each time, the soaring vocals giving voice to the story of each song. Their music takes the long way home, treating its listeners like passengers on a ride through scenic back roads. Their live shows are inclusive, celebratory, and community-building. Members Pappy Biondo (banjo, vocals), JP Biondo (mandolin, vocals), Mickey Coviello (acoustic guitar, vocals), Dylan Skursky (electric bass, double bass), Todd Kopec (fiddle, vocals), and Jami Novak (drums, percussion) all live and love music and aren’t afraid to show it.

Cabinet formed in 2006, bringing together players from various musical and personal backgrounds. Some of the members were barely old enough to drink legally, but their thirst for older music was unquenchable. Whether its rustic “American Beauty”-era Grateful Dead or old-timey bluegrass, Cabinet has digested it all. But that is not to say that Cabinet recreates older styles. No, this is music that might have its roots in the past, but it is current and vibrant, with a sense of celebrating the now.

See NEPA Scene’s photos and review of Cabinet’s Peach Music Festival reunion here. See 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.

Watch or listen to JP Biondo talk about Cabinet and their last album, as well as his own solo work, in Episode 8 of the NEPA Scene Podcast, which includes two exclusive acoustic performances. Learn more about JP’s latest project, The Mule Team, with his bandmates Christopher Kearney and Roy Williams in Episode 128 of the NEPA Scene Podcast, which also includes an acoustic performance:

Photo by Brittany Boote Photography/NEPA Scene