Susquehanna Breakdown – Day 1 Recap
Susquehanna Breakdown, located on the beautiful Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA, is one of the larger venues in this country for festivals and concerts. However, it has achieved family, friends, and good music vibes; things that are dear to my heart and the family and community that Cabinet has developed in their musical career!
Cabinet is very lucky to have the opportunity to host their own festival and I’m very lucky to produce it with them. The fact that we can share the experience with our family and close friends is amazing. Even more amazing was the opportunity to put most of those folks on the stage this year. – Bill Orner, Manager, Cabinet
Upon walking up to the main grounds you are greeted by friendly faces and a beautiful view of the mountains in Northeast PA (NEPA). A huge pavilion surrounds the main grounds where the majority of the music was held on the second day, but the first sight when walking up the hill was the Breakdown Stage, the venue for the Friday musical selections.The day kicked off with The Dishonest Fiddlers, a band who’s name says it all; no fiddle. They are a local staple in the PA bluegrass scene and I can see why, they are extremely talented and energetic onstage; I am a new fan! JP Biondo made the first of many “Cabinet-sit-ins” for the weekend joining them on vocals as the first band ended their show. Just as the sun was setting on this hot and beautiful day, another PA local act called Coal Town Rounders took the stage. They were just as hot as the sun was, a very traditional bluegrass sound, but nonetheless they were exciting to hear. Many sweet and harmonious lyrics were belted through the valley of Montage Mountain for their set.
Next up was a group I am very familiar with, the Larry Keel Experience! With the sad news of their banjo player Will Lee suffering a heart attack, and luckily recovering at home, and a replacement fiddle player losing a tire on the drive up from VA, Keel remarked that this was clearly not their week, but the music would prevail! This was a duo set between Larry and his gorgeous wife Jenny on bass. They selected songs from newly released album, favorites and even a few covers. I felt this set was the best I had ever seen him play even being a man down. Maybe the simplicity of it, maybe the beer I drank, or maybe Larry had gotten into some excess moonshine with the full moon rising above the Scranton skies. Either way it was hot and everyone else agreed!
Next up the boys from Cabinet finally made their much anticipated appearance for the Breakdown faithful. It was a special treat that Larry stayed up onstage and played some tunes with them. The set started out slow, but quickly picked up into a psychedelia-bluegrass experience with both artists simply firing on all cylinders and that full moon continued to echo in the sky above. After this long set, Cabinet decided to stay out for their second set instead of taking a break showing what this festival is all about; bluegrass and fun! Cabinet was electrifying, I was mesmerized watching these guys I had just seen a few weeks earlier at Charm City Bluegrass as they had somehow gotten better. Pappy, JP, Todd, Mickey, Jami, and Dylan playing in their home state was nothing short of epic and amazing to see! Pappy remarked how much the festival has grown in just three short years, and how stoked they were to be playing in front of the home crowd and their amazing fan base! Just as they finished their last note and the cold began to drift over the crowd.
Flux Capacitor was up for their final show starting around 1:00 am. I last saw them at Jam on the River last year. They are one of the most fun up and coming jamtronica acts from nearby Philly. The coolest part is they are all related: Jason, Pete, and Mike Specht. The trance and masterful jams back and forth between the keys and guitar with the steady drumbeat was the perfect way to end an amazing first night of Susquehanna Breakdown!
Larry Keel Experience
Cabinet & Larry Keel
Coal Town Rounders