Cabinet works on new record, readies for Susquehanna Breakdown in Scranton – Wilkes Barre Times-Leader
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton based Americana outfit Cabinet is greeting 2017 by getting to work.
The peddlers of Pennsylvania bluegrass have already hit the studio in the new year to work on their latest record, and they’ve announced the fifth annual Susquehanna Breakdown music festival for May 19 and 20 at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton.
Mandolin player and vocalist J.P. Biondo said work on the album has taken place at the Tank Recording Studio in Burlington, Vt.
“We’re recording with a fellow named Ben Collette who’s a great dude we’re excited to work with,” Biondo said.
Collette, who has been a studio engineer for seminal jam band Phish in past sessions, has been working with Cabinet to record tracks they’ve played in live performances but never brought to the studio, Biondo said.
“I think most of the fans will be pretty familiar with them for the most part,” Biondo said. “There are a couple of fresher ones in there but mostly songs we’ve been playing for at least a year.”
While there is no projected release date for the record, Biondo said recording is just about finished and ready to give way to production.
“I feel it should be our best yet,” Biondo said of the studio effort.
In the studio with Cabinet for the first time is drummer Josh Karis, who was announced as the band’s second percussionist at last year’s Susquehanna Breakdown.
Biondo said working with Karis, on tour, in rehearsal and in studio, has been fun.
“He adds a nice little extra flavor to the band,” Biondo said. “It’s been nice to inject his personality into our process and mix things up a bit. It’s been very healthy for us musically.”
As their on-stage ensemble has expanded, so has Cabinet’s yearly music festival.
The 2017 lineup includes Greensky Bluegrass, The Wood Brothers and Keller Williams in addition to three Cabinet sets over the course of two days.
“We make it a point to offer our fans the greatest possible musical experience that we can,” Biondo said. “And we want to grow the festival every year as well … if we can. That’s number two.”
Cabinet has played a multitude of shows with Greensky Bluegrass, the Michigan-rooted bluegrass/rock fusion quintet.
“They’re just great dudes, and they kill it,” Biondo said of Greensky.
NEPA’s bluegrass ambassadors have also shared a stage with guitarist extraordinaire and explorer of many sounds Williams on several occasions.
Williams’ solo work and his quartet, The Keller Williams Kwahtro, perform what has been branded acoustic dance music, but his various other ensembles play everything from bluegrass to gospel versions of Grateful Dead songs.
“I love Keller Williams,” Biondo said. “He’s one of my favorite people in the world. Everything you imagine about Keller Williams as far as listening to his music goes and thinking about the guy he probably is, it’s true.”
In addition to the various co-headliners, the lineup is populated by what Biondo called “heavy hitters,” including Tom Hamilton and his Breakdown All Stars, Turkuaz, Billy Strings, Driftwood and Scranton-based outfit And The Moneynotes, which will reunite for a performance.
“It’s going to be the first time in a few years, I think, that those boys are playing together, which is super exciting,” Biondo said.
Local and regional up-and-comers will be featured as well. NEPA’s The Dishonest Fiddlers and the Lehigh Valley’s Serene Green will have opportunities to shine.
“From the first moment I heard their music, I was hooked,” Biondo said of The Dishonest Fiddlers. “I love Dave Brown’s writing. I look at those guys as peers. They’re going to go pretty far.”
For Cabinet, a band that developed by “scratching” for every gig they booked, providing a stage for local acts is among the chief satisfactions of hosting Susquehanna Breakdown, Biondo said.
“It always makes me proud and happy to have a platform for local bands,” he said.
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