The Times-Tribune

Holiday Show at F.M. Kirby Center opens new door for Cabinet

- Contact the writer: BY CHARLOTTE L. JACOBSON STAFF WRITER cjacobson@citizensvo­ice.com, @CVcljacobs­on on Twitter

Cabinet grabs a bigger spotlight than usual when it returns to Northeast Pennsylvan­ia for its annual Holiday Show.

The Scranton-based roots, folk and bluegrass band booked Wilkes-Barre’s F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts for the show the past three years, but this time the group graduates from the Chandelier Lobby to take over the main stage. The concert, which also includes a performanc­e by pianist Holly Bowling, starts at 8 p.m. Friday, and tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show, plus fees.

“It’s fantastic,” singer and mandolin player J.P. Biondo said of moving to the main stage. “I’ve gone to see many a show at the Kirby, and I just love it. We’re super excited and proud and honored.”

For the past decade, Cabinet has played across the country in venues of all sizes, even at large music festivals. It developed its sound locally, though. After high school, Mr. Biondo began playing with friends at open mics as the rest of the band began to fill in. Through writing songs on guitar and mandolin — not fully understand­ing the genre of music they were creating — and performing semi-regularly at River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Twp., Cabinet turned out to be a unique, Americana-blended group.

And the landscape of Northeast Pennsylvan­ia seemed to influence the group when it came to writing its multi-genre music.

“When we first started writing, we were writing based on experience in our lives around this area,” Mr. Biondo said. “The landscape, more so than anything. Some would be relationsh­ip-based, but mostly the landscape really inspired us. It wasn’t really like any other music from around here, but just the lay of the land created us. How it’s just home.”

So it only makes sense that the septet returns each year for the ongoing tradition of performing back home. Mr. Biondo credited the region’s fans for boosting their popularity and embracing the group, claiming it “wouldn’t have been possible” without them.

“I always feel very lucky to be playing with this band with the guys, I do,” he added. “Beyond that, I think our fan base really drives this part of it home — we’re good people, too. We just like to have a good time and share some smiles, hang out with friends. At the end of the day, we’re just regular dudes, and that point gets across to our fans. They hold onto that pretty strongly . ... They know that when they come out and see a Cabinet show, they are going to be having a good time with friends and likeminded people.”

In addition to Mr. Biondo, the band consists of Mickey Coviello, guitar and vocals; Patrick “Pappy” Biondo, banjo and vocals; Dylan Skursky, bass; Todd Kopec, fiddles and vocals; and Jami Novak and Josh Karis, drums and percussion.

While the group works to create a fun atmosphere at its concerts, writing new music on tour is difficult. But for now, J.P. Biondo said, the group is focused on enjoying its upcoming shows, both at the Kirby Center and its New Year’s Eve concert at the Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelph­ia.

“We have the greatest job in the world,” he said. “Once you’re on that stage, there’s nothing else like it. You get to express your art and yourself, and do it with your friends. We play some fun awesome music and get paid for it. For me, that’s not even part of the job; getting in the van and driving for eight hours is the job. Playing on stage is all gravy.”

 ?? SPECIAL TO WEEKEND TIMES ?? Scranton-based band Cabinet presents its annual holiday show Friday at 8 p.m. at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes-Barre. This year, the group graduates from the theater’s Chandelier Lobby to take over the main stage.
SPECIAL TO WEEKEND TIMES Scranton-based band Cabinet presents its annual holiday show Friday at 8 p.m. at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes-Barre. This year, the group graduates from the theater’s Chandelier Lobby to take over the main stage.

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