Rich Howells

Cabinet and Keller Williams will jam live at Circle Drive-In Theatre in Dickson City on Aug. 29

Cabinet and Keller Williams will jam live at Circle Drive-In Theatre in Dickson City on Aug. 29
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It was announced today that Scranton/Wilkes-Barre jamgrass group Cabinet and one-man jam band Keller Williams will perform together at the Circle Drive-In Theatre in Dickson City on Saturday, Aug. 29.

Like the previously announced Aaron Lewis concert coming up on Aug. 30, this show will be live and not just a pre-recorded event shown on the big screen. It is presented by Stage West in Scranton, DamnMillennial Promotions, SLP Concerts, and Drusky Entertainment.

“I’m excited to announce my first drive-in show and even more excited to be sharing the bill with my old friends Cabinet,” Keller said on his Instagram and Facebook page.

“This will be a socially distant drive-in experience with folks being able to sit outside their vehicles in their allotted parking space.”

Gates at the Circle Drive-In (1911 Scranton/Carbondale Hwy., Dickson City) open at 6 p.m., and the music starts at 8 p.m. Tickets, which are $149 per vehicle for general admission (up to four guests max) and $199 per vehicle for Gold Circle parking close to the stage (up to four guests max), go on sale this Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster. All attendees must remain at their vehicles, and masks are required. The event will be held rain or shine.

Williams and Cabinet have shared stages before, most notably at the 2017 Susquehanna Breakdown at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton, where they played a collaborative set in addition to their own sets:

This year during the coronavirus pandemic, Williams has been streaming his weekly Live from Keller’s Cellar webcasts while Cabinet played two live stream-only sets at Ardmore Music Hall in Philadelphia in June, followed by a weekend of in-person performances in July at the Grateful Get Down 5 in Blain, Pennsylvania. Filling only 25 percent of the picnic grounds and spreading everyone out to keep concertgoers safe, they headlined the outdoor festival with four sets across two nights.

On May 8, Cabinet released their first new music in over two and a half years, a single called “Silver Sun,” 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.”

They followed that up with another single, “Wheels,” on July 3.

“Keep the wheels spinning round and round. Shiny side up with the dirty side down. This was a phrase that a longtime friend of the band would relay to the departing band van after any gathering that hosted the band with him in attendance throughout the years. His name is Woodstock. You can hear him in the beginning of the track on a voicemail he left Pappy after last year’s Get Down in PA,” the band said on Bandcamp.

“The song melody was crafted by JP and Pappy, followed by Pappy taking the lyrical helm. Another product of a session just one week before the pandemic in early March. We are grateful to have been able to get that session in before the madness. Please enjoy!”

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, which feature both Cabinet and Keller Williams, here and more photos from 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 Rich Howells/NEPA Scene