Cabinet’s Susquehanna Breakdown features Northeastern Pennsylvania talent, nationally recognized co-headliners
MOOSIC — When bluegrass/Americana jam band, Cabinet, started the Susquehanna Breakdown music festival in 2013 under the name the Old Farmer’s Ball, mandolin player J.P. Biondo didn’t have expectations of what it might become.
“I was initially excited, and I still am excited about the idea of us throwing our own festival,” Biondo said. “It’s pretty cool that we get to do it in our own town.”
The fourth annual installment of Susquehanna Breakdown takes place May 20 and 21 at the Pavilion at Montage Mountain. Cabinet hosts a talent laden lineup of local artists and nationally known co-headliners, and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre based six-piece is excited.
“I think we have one of the hottest lineups yet,” Biondo said.
With widely celebrated acts, such as Railroad Earth and the Infamous Stringdusters, on this year’s bill, Biondo said the festival has grown in the same way the touring band has grown.
“We’ve been developing a lot of relationships out on the road and in our music scene, and making friends,” Biondo said. “It’s a natural, organic thing.”
Cabinet shared a bill with the Stringdusters, Railroad Earth and Fruition (another Breakdown act) in March at the Suwannee Springfest in Florida.
“It’s cool to further that relationship but do it in our hometown, show the guys what we’ve got going on here in Scranton,” Biondo said. “I’m proud and feeling very lucky.”
That hometown pride is spread all across the festival lineup. Northeastern Pennsylvania musicians are featured in several acts such as Coal Town Rounders, The Dishonest Fiddlers and the Graham Mazer Duo.
Biondo said the players in those groups are local friends and awesome musicians and Cabinet is excited to provide them a platform on which to play.
“If we have the ability to have a little festival and have … our hometown boys there, why not?” Biondo said. “It keeps that local vibe as much as we’re trying to branch out and get some other bands from out of town. It’s very important to us.”
Other than Cabinet sets, the members of the band take the stage in a variety of side projects and collaborations including Cabinet & Keel, Pappy & Friends, Free Music Orchestra, The Far Future and Kopec.
Biondo said the six members of Cabinet love the band and playing together, but they also individually love playing all different kinds of music.
“Having the ability to express ourselves outside of Cabinet is very important,” Biondo said. “Why not do it and show the folks some other music we really enjoy and hope they enjoy it as well?”
In a recent Weekender interview, Andy Hall of the Infamous Stringdusters expressed his appreciation for the members of Cabinet as musicians and people as well as his excitement to co-headline Breakdown.
Biondo said he saw the Stringdusters live before the two acts ever worked together and felt they’d be kindred spirits.
“To say the absolute least, we are super pumped to have them on the festival with us and glad that we’ve formed the relationship with them that we have.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts
If you go:
What: Susquehanna Breakdown 2016
Where: The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Rd., Scranton
When: Gates open at 5 p.m. May 20. Music starts at 6 p.m. Gates open at 11 a.m. May 21 and music resumes. Both evenings feature late night sets that start after midnight.
Ticket information: Tickets cost $35 for May 21 only, $75 for two day camping passes and $135 for RV passes. VIP is sold out. Kids under 10 get in free with adult ticket purchases. Tickets are available at www.susquehannabreakdown.com.