Show Reviews

    Cabinet finale by Ryan O’Malley


    Cabinet Kirby Center Wilkes-Barre PA December 31 2017
    by Ryan O’Malley

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    “We didn’t bring a set list, but we made damn sure to bring the moonshine,” was the way Cabinet banjoist/vocalist Patrick “Pappy” Biondo greeted a legion of fans at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. on Sunday, for a gig that was billed as the last show by the six piece jamgrass outfit before embarking on an indefinite hiatus. However true the sentiment was, it was the perfect way to kick off a night of celebrating the music, friendship and community the band has helped form over its last eleven years together.


    As a testament to the friends and community they’ve formed, Cabinet featured Serene Green, a traditional bluegrass quartet from the Pennsylvania Lehigh Valley as special guests for its three night New Years run. Formed in 2011, the four piece – guitarist Michael Johnson, mandolin player Quentin Fisher, banjoist Steve “Banjo Steve” Leonard and bassist Shane McGeehan – had the near capacity crowd in high spirits during its 45 minute set which included originals from their debut album “To Whom it Pertains,” and choice covers including a fiery reworking of the Robert Johnson standard “Crossroads Blues.” Midway through their set, Serene Green welcomed Cabinet vocalist/mandolin player JP Biondo and frequent collaborator Chris Kearney to the stage for a run through the traditional bluegrass staple, “Can’t You Hear Me Callin'” before wrapping up its set a short time later.

    With the night being a celebration of the family atmosphere that has come to define the Cabinet community, it was only fitting that longtime audio archivist Keith Litzenberger introduced the band, with JP Biondo thanking Litzenberger for his years of tirelessly following the band on tour and helping introduce its music to new fans all over the country. The show kicked off with an upbeat “Old Farmer’s Mill,” one of the oldest numbers in the Cabinet songbook which had the crowd dancing and singing along to every word. The call and answer run through “Pine Billy” saw guitarist Mickey Coviello and JP Biondo complimenting each others’ fills during the duration of the song, which concluded with Biondo telling fiddle player Todd Kopec “go ahead, Todd; for old time’s sake” with Kopec kicking off the spirited “Old Time Songs.”

    Check out the full gallery of photos by Ryan here.

    A deeper cut, the tender “Doors” from their album “Leap,” was a welcomed addition to the set, which also featured some brilliant fiddle work from Kopec. As yet another testament to the community the band helped establish, Pappy Biondo told the crowd how one of their longest supporters, Beth Cornetta Oros, hugged him in the lobby before the show and gave him pictures of Tom Faleshock. Faleshock was arguably the first dedicated fan the band had in 2006, and remained an avid supporter of all things Cabinet until his untimely passing in 2015.

    Along with being a fan, Faleshock created the “Cabinet Fans” page on Facebook, which has come to exemplify the grassroots community that is the “CabFam” – an endearing term given to the loyal fanbase. With Faleshock’s pictures on stage, Cabinet delivered an explorative “Caroline,” a song that was Faleshock’s favorite, and has come to be one of the defining songs of the bands career. It was a beautiful homage to someone who deserved to be there on Sunday. Capping off the first set, the band jumped into the rollicking “Susquehanna Breakdown,” a fast tempo instrumental that became the name of a yearly festival Cabinet hosted in Scranton, Pa. If Cabinet were to have a hit single over the last eleven years, it would be “The Tower,” a lively singalong that has become a staple of Cabinet shows.

    For the set ending rendition on Sunday, Pappy Biondo took to the pedal steel guitar, which has become one of his favorite instruments to explore. Celebrating the New Year, the band emerged for a pedal steel influenced take on the instrumental “Auld Lang Syne” before JP Biondo brought his father out for the verses. JP Biondo and Coviello collaborated on “Gather All Ye” before Pappy Biondo joined them for the sentimental ballad “The One,” another welcomed deep cut that was a nod to a loving relationship that blossomed between two long term CabFam members.

    Following spirited runs through the thumping “Heavy Rain,” which featured tight rhythms from drummer Josh Karis and bassist Dylan Skursky, and a jammed out “Dirt,” the electric rock of “The Dove” proved to be a second set highlight. Cabinet wrapped up the set proper with two staples of recent years, the groove hea vy “Miss Molly,” and the driving instrumental “Mysterio.” Something that has come to define Cabinet shows at festivals and other venues is spontaneity, and the band made sure to continue that tradition by coming off the stage and going into the crowd for an acoustic encore beginning with “Oh Darlin'” and wrapping up with the appropriately titled “Home Now.”

    As simple as some of the lyrics are – “Pick me up around 5 o’clock at that Steamtown train stop, because I’m home now; yes I’m home now” for example – the song was the perfect nightcap for an evening that not only celebrated Cabinet, but celebrated the area and the people who made Cabinet more than just a band – they made it a movement.

    A movement that helped the band grow from playing clubs and fairs in NEPA to playing major festivals like Lock’n, All Good, and The Peach Music Festival; a movement that led the band through numerous tours of the South, Midwest and Colorado. No matter what the future may hold for Cabinet, they created something that blossomed into a community that will never go away. In the mean time, Cabinet and the CabFam will take everything that has happened over the last eleven years and wait for the next chapter in a career that has finally come home now.

    Check out the full gallery of photos by Ryan here.

    To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at

    Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.