Breaking Rad: Susquehanna Breakdown returns to Montage Mountain

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Scranton/Wilkes-Barre natives Cabinet will again usher in the summer concert season at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain as the progressive bluegrass band presents its third annual Susquehanna Breakdown on Saturday.

In addition to Cabinet’s four sets, the music festival will feature more than 15 acts on two stages including Coal Town Rounders, Bill Evans’ Soulgrass, Ryan Montbleau, George Wesley, and two sets from Tom Graham & Justin Mazer, the second of which will highlight the music of Wilco.

For the first time, Cabinet and venue owners Live Nation will work with ScrantonMade to present “Arts on the Mountain,” a local artisans market including fine art, crafts and designs by local and regional artists. For a full schedule and list of musical artists, go to

“We’re so excited about this year’s festival,” said Cabinet’s mandolin player and vocalist JP Biondo. “This year it is less of a music festival and more of a music event surrounded by art.

“There’s a little more of a family vibe this year,” he continued. “We’ve incorporated a kids’ stage, featuring children’s music and children learning music. Our fiddle player Todd will be playing with his son; and Jami will be putting on a drum and percussion workshop for kids.”

Campers will be treated to a few hours of music on Friday night. Scott Law takes the stage at 7 p.m., followed by American Babies at 8, and two sets from Cabinet beginning at 9:15 p.m.

“We’re going for a no-repeater all weekend,” Biondo said. “The first night will be more intimate, on a smaller stage, with a different sound system, more of a hang out and warm up for Saturday night, but still a performance. We will play two 45-minute sets, one all acoustic and one all electric.

“Then on Saturday, the sets will be longer and the first one will just be the six of us. The second one will be us with some of the musicians we invited this year (billed as “Cabinet Big Band”), including a horn player, a piano player, an extra guitarist and a few others.”

The band, formed in 2006, recently released its latest studio album, “Celebration,” completely digitally, and Biondo said they will soon be pressing some vinyl. “It’s our shortest one, just eight songs and it is very ‘songy,’ meaning there’s not quite as much jamming or going out on the fringes of bluegrass, but we’re very happy with how it’s been accepted by our fans.”

Following the Susquehanna Breakdown, Cabinet will again hit the festival circuit, starting with The Ville Music Festival in North Lawrence, Ohio, on May 22 and ending on October 10 at the Clayton Shindig in Clayton, North Carolina.

“We have been playing a lot, last year we hit the festival circuit pretty hard,” he said. “We made it out to Colorado, where our kind of music is blossoming. This time we will be playing a lot of festivals mostly on the East Coast, but we will make it out to California for the first time for the High Sierra Music Festival (July 2 & 3 in Quincy, California).”

The group will once again be back on Montage Mountain for the Peach Music Festival from Aug. 13 to 16, and Biondo hopes they will be able to do something again at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre like last year’s holiday shows.

“Those went over great and we had a blast,” he said. “The folks that run that place took such good care of us, and the fans responded by packing the place two nights in a row.

“We’re looking forward to hopefully doing that again.”