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Band Americana Bluegrass


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While I had long thought that bluegrass is not for everyone, after I first heard Cabinet, a crowd-pleasing band from Northeast Pennsylvania, I began to reconsider that assessment. Still, the sound of Cabinet is more than just bluegrass, as they have a touch of blues and a bit of soul along with a funky side that will pull just about anyone out of a lousy mood. Formed in 2006, Cabinet released their self-titled album on their own before they signed with Ropeadope Records. The band has had a number of supporting gigs with artists such as Keller Williams, Hot Buttered Rum and Dark Star Orchestra.Cabinet consists of J.P. Biondo on mandolin and vocals, Pappy Biondo on banjo and vocals, Mickey Coviello, on acoustic guitar and vocals, Todd Kopec on the fiddle and also vocals, Dylan Skursky on bass and Jami Novak on drums. So while the band’s sound is grounded in traditional bluegrass, the instrumentation, in particular the presence of the percussionist situates it out of that formal realm. With the release of This Is Cabinet Set 1 both fans and those new to the group can hear Cabinet interpret its songs in the live setting. The band recorded these tracks at a variety of venues, including: The Crooked I in Erie, PA, the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland OH, and the River Street Jazz Café in Plains, PA. This Is Cabinet Set 1 opens with the bright, appealing song, “Tower.” From here the band leans towards more traditional bluegrass with “Salt Creek.” Others tracks on the album such as “Coalminers,” written about the band’s home region, move beyond that tradition. It all comes to a culmination with the final song “Shifty Shaft,” which melds bluegrass with a more progressive feel and showcases the band’s ability to jam.On This Is Cabinet Set 1 Cabinet has taken a classic sound, recreated it and made it the group’s own. -

"Groove of the Month"

There is a breeze blowing through the bluegrass/jam scene these days that is shaping up to be a storm. Those in need of a new sound rooted in traditional prose and form but with an invigorating new swing need look no further than a group of six young gunslingers from rust belt Pennsylvania called Cabinet. In just a little over two years, Cabinet have been wowing audiences at bars, clubs and festivals all over Pennsylvania and Ohio and hopefully, their train is just beginning to roll.

The six members of Cabinet project a youthful abandon and heartbroken clatter that can only come organically from a group of musicians striving towards a common groove. J.P. Biondo (mandolin, vocals), Pappy Biondo (5-string banjo, vocals), Mickey Coviello (Guitar, vocals), Todd Kopec (fiddle), Dylan Skursky (upright and electric bass, vocals) and Jami Novak (drums) come together to form a tight-grained portrait of string-band carpentry.

Like their older and more weathered peers Yonder Mountain String Band and Railroad Earth, Cabinet possess a timeless and profound energy that transcends the front porch creak and Appalachian moan of traditional bluegrass to the modern orb and pulse of the jam scene. The melodic interplay between cousins J.P. and Pappy Biondo and guitarist Mickey Coviello create the landscape over which fiddle player Todd Kopec can blaze a mournful trail which leads to a more solid resolution held down by the chugging cadences and rapid fire rhythm of Skursky and Novak.

Juggling traditional bluegrass standards, stellar originals and re-worked covers of contemporary artists, Cabinet’s live shows are an invigorating mesh of Americana, great songwriting and instrumental prowess. Moving from tender ballads to exhilarating crescendos of improvisation, a live Cabinet show is always a mind-tingling experience. If there are only a handful of believers at the beginning of the night, by the last song, everybody in the room is filled with the spirit.

Seth “Bear” Foresman - My Best Fest

"Greener grass ahead?"

With a growing fanbase not only in Wilkes-Barre but also in farther-flung locales, things are going quite well for Cabinet. But the six-piece bluegrass/rock hybrid band wants more — like a tour with a prominent artist and a headlining slot at a venue like the Sherman Theater.

“My favorite thing about Cabinet, personally, is that we can reach out to people of all ages,” said Dylan Skursky, the band’s bass player. Indeed, the sextet plays to dancing hippies at outdoor festivals, sit-down audiences in theaters and party people in bars and clubs.

On Saturday, June 26, Cabinet — J.P. Biondo (mandolin, vocals), Pappy Biondo (banjo, vocals), Mickey Coviello (acoustic guitar, vocals), Todd Kopec (fiddle, vocals) and Jami Novak (drums, percussion) — will return to the Sarah Street Grill in Stroudsburg.

“Stroudsburg is one of the first places we played outside of Wilkes-Barre,” said Kopec, “and Sarah Street is one of the first places we got excited about going to because it fit us well, and they feed us well, and they have sushi.” Skursky said a jump to the neighboring 1,500-capacity Sherman Theater as a headliner this coming fall is a goal.

Jim Thorpe — the band will return to the Mauch Chunk Opera House as a headliner in October and has opened for Railroad Earth at the larger Penn’s Peak — Reading, Erie and Cleveland have also been strong repeat markets for Cabinet.

“It seems that everywhere we go, the response is overwhelming,” Novak said. “They buy the CD, they all come back, they contact us on (the Internet).”

The CD Novak referred to is the band’s 2008 self-titled debut. After the album’s physical release, Ropeadope Records (Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Charlie Hunter, DJ Logic) signed Cabinet to a digital distribution deal and re-issued the album digitally last year. (Ropeadope recently became a digital-only label.)

“It hasn’t been, naturally, as big as we hoped, as far as the amount of sales through them, but they’re a really good platform, and they helped us out a lot,” Novak explained. “And I think they were dropping some of their bands lately, but they decided to keep us.”

That said, it’s the live show, which blends traditional bluegrass elements of banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar and string bass with aspects not found in traditional bluegrass, like a drum kit, on which the band has built its success. At some festivals, promoters place Cabinet in late-night slots, a rare position for bluegrass bands.

“We always get those 2 a.m.-to-4 a.m. slots, which is cool for us because the energy is there with our kind of music,” Skursky said. “It’s not the kind of thing where it’s just jammy. You gotta get the blood going.”

Skursky, Novak and Kopec stopped by the Weekender offices early last Friday afternoon before a busy weekend of shows at the Stonehenge Music Festival in New Columbia, Pa., the Honesdale Roots and Rhythm Festival and a show at the Brass Lantern in Reading. Other summer plans for Cabinet include festival slots at Midsummer Meltdown in Schuylkill Haven this weekend; July’s Gratefulfest (Keller Williams, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Moonalice, Emmitt-Nershi Band) in Ohio; the Sterling Stage String Fling (Hot Buttered Rum, Gordon Stone Band, Hot Day At The Zoo) in New York state; and A Bear’s Picnic (Dark Star Orchestra, David Gans) in Union County and Musikfest in Bethlehem, both in August. Also in August, Cabinet will at the Appalachian Brewing Co. in Harrisburg where it will open for The Infamous Stringdusters, a band whose three albums reached the Top 4 of the bluegrass charts.

Closer to home, the River Street Jazz Caf? in Plains Twp. has been the band’s primary room, and it will return there for shows on July 23 and Aug. 20. Cabinet has also been happy to play at community-minded events like the recent Luzerne Foundation Celebration at the River Common in Wilkes-Barre and will return to the Wilkes-Barre Farmers Market on Aug. 26.

Local bands, too, are part of the Cabinet story. This includes shows with Miz, where guitarist Mike Miz has sat in with Cabinet, as well as a few gigs with And The Moneynotes. Skursky said Cabinet is working on swapping some shows with North Carolina’s Holy Ghost Tent Revival, a band that frequently performs with And The Moneynotes.

As for a new recording, the band has “tons” of new material, Skursky said, and plans to enter the studio in the fall in hopes of having a sophomore album out by next spring. Novak said the band rushed the recording of its debut album due to a deadline and is committed to taking its time the next time around. - The Weekender


"Self-titled" [CD / Digital] released April 20, 2008 on Ropeadope Records
"This Is Cabinet - Set I" [CD / Digital] released December 14, 2010 on Ropeadope Records
"This Is Cabinet - Set II" [CD / Digital] release date December 13, 2011 on Ropeadope Records



When it comes to the music of Cabinet, the essential bywords are soul, simplicity, and serious musicianship. In concert, the combination of these qualities invariably yields an experience that is so celebratory and moving that the very word Cabinet takes on a new, vivid meaning for anyone in the audience. An inclusive and engaging energy is the uniting through-line as Cabinet weaves bluegrass, country and folk influences to powerful effect. Tight dynamics punctuate gorgeous, soaring harmonies as down-to-earth rhythm and lyrics give way to dreamy jams that are the musical equivalent of the backroad scenic route. But this impressive result is no accident. Pappy Biondo [banjo, vocals], J.P. Biondo [mandolin, vocals], Mickey Coviello [acoustic guitar, vocals], Dylan Skursky [electric bass, double bass], Todd Kopec [fiddle, vocals], and Jami Novak [drums, percussion], all love and live music. They each have a nuanced approach and posses broad talents in their own rights. But the passionate, affirming, and joyous musical world that they create together is Cabinet.

Now listeners that haven't experienced the Cabinet experience in person will no longer be left out, thanks to a live album, THIS IS CABINET - SET I, out on Ropeadope Records. The tracks are culled from concerts in Cabinet's homebase of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, as well as from shows in Erie and Cleveland, both popular stops on Cabinet's touring routes.

Cabinet is a band that has outgrown any "regional favorite" tag and has progressed to a broader fanbase, all while retaining their signature sound. The band self-released a debut album, "Cabinet," before signing with Ropeadope, which took notice and re-released that album digitally.

Cabinet formed in 2006, bringing together players from various musical and personal backgrounds. Some of the members are barely old enough to drink legally, but their thirst for older music is 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.