Cabinet & Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Friday, October 14, 2016
The 8x10 - Baltimore, MD
Cabinet is a band with roots firmly planted in the Appalachian tradition. They wear their influences like badges, honoring the canon of roots, bluegrass, country, and folk, weaving these sounds into a patchwork Americana quilt. But this music isn’t romanticizing or rehashing the past. Cabinet makes it mark on today. The steady aim of their harmonies soar straight onto target each time, the soaring vocals giving voice to the story of each song. Their music takes the long way home, treating its listeners like passengers on a ride through scenic back roads. Their live shows are inclusive, celebratory, and community-building. Everyone will want to get on the wagon with Cabinet. Members 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 live and love music, and their polished sound belies their young age.
The band‘s latest offering, THIS IS CABINET - SET II, a seven song effort – six originals and a cover of The Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman” – was recorded in March of 2013 at Stage One in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Club Metronome in Burlington, Vermont. The set is diverse yet cohesive, ranging from the melancholy of “Caroline,” which unfolds into a purposeful jam, to the modern Americana rock of “Heavy Rain,” which closes the album. Along the way, we have the ambling “Doors,” the upbeat and fun “Poor Man’s Blues” -- which would not sound out of place at an Old And In The Way show -- the snaky, reggae-tinged “The Dove” and the instrumental “Susquehanna Breakdown,” another Cabinet contribution to the tried-and-true bluegrass tradition. The group’s take on “Mr. Spaceman” is relatively faithful, but with some Cabinet flair, and offers a glimpse into the band’s myriad influences.
By now, Cabinet’s ability to get a festival crowd dancing and rip tasty instrumental breakdowns is a given. With “Set II,” the band displays its continuing development not only as players, but as songwriters who know how to get to the point – and have some fun going down that road.
Cabinet formed in 2006, bringing together players from various musical and personal backgrounds. Some of the members were barely old enough to drink legally, but their thirst for older music was 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.
In 2010, the five Wisconsinites that make up Horseshoes & Hand Grenades found themselves in a living room in the college town of Stevens Point, WI, holding acoustic instruments and enjoying a hodgepodge of fermented beverages. Music and revelry ensued that evening and, while many of the party guests eventually bid their goodbye well into the morning hours, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades wasn’t ready to let the get-together fade. Five years later, the music still hasn’t stopped and the party is still going strong, from the mountain west to the river towns of the Midwest that the quintet calls home.
While strongly rooted in bluegrass, old-time, and folk music, the band produces a sound that draws on the vaults of music collectively and individually enjoyed throughout the course of their lives thus far. The music doesn’t lend itself well to categories or boundaries. One could probably be formed, but the boys seem to generally prefer fishing a river, or enjoying the company of friends and barley beers.
Yet with their music well-defined or not, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades has begun to form a place in the Midwest music scene, gaining recognition on both a regional and national scale. The band took 3rd place at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival’s Band Competition in 2012 and has since shared the stage with Trampled By Turtles, The Travelin’ McCourys, Railroad Earth, Merle Haggard, The Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Marty Stuart, and many more. The group’s third full-length Middle Western was released in March of 2015. Being mostly inspired by rivers, valleys, good friends, and good drink, this five-piece is as sturdy as any Midwest riverbed and will make your toes tap from sundown to sunrise.
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