We heard this news a while back from a promoter friend. At the time, everybody was being hush-hush. But it soon seemed to be the worst kept secret in the Brewgrass world.
That is right folks. If you like to Get High On Pennsylvania Bluegrass will have to find a new dispensary. Cabinet announced today on Facebook what a lot of people seemed to already know. They are going on an indefinite hiatus after the New year’s Eve show at The Kirby.
Even though they already had developed quite a fanbase, Cabinet was still very much Northeast Pennsylvania’s local boys. We got a chance to share them with the wider world that night. The reactions of first timers who stumbled on to this set, which was not on the festy schedule, were predictably flipped out.
It was damned civilized. Nobody chatted while the band played. And everybody knew damned near everybody, including the band. The band, and its following had grown. But the CabFam never lost its everybody knows your name vibe.
Back on that Thursday night at Festy 6 we decided we would stop saying we didn’t know how they could get any better, because every time we saw them, they were better. It was a big part of the allure, the chance to watch these talented kids (when you are 61, most everybody is a kid to you) growing musically.
That same Festy, Cabinet pulled off another one of those amazing moments that live forever in festival lure, jumping off the stage and going into the middle of the audience to play acoustically after the power went out during their set. The place went nuts. And why not? What was there not to like?
We could note so many Cabinet memories. We have seen them on the main stage at big festivals and on a makeshift stage in the middle of a tree nursery at an urban trees fundraiser with about 10 other people actually listening to the band. So much great music, so many great people. As Babs once sang, “Smiles we gave to one another.”
So now what? Hiatus? WTF? They were just hitting stride. Seemed on the verge of being national headliners. After the rough spot with the drums situation, they seemed to have really honed in on the direction they were going musically and things seemed to be clicking. Certainly the level of their gigs had gone up in the past year or so.
Or maybe not. Maybe, well, let’s just say maybe and leave it at that. Not even going to speculate on why. I am sure those who they want to know, do know. Us? Yeah, the TMZ in us wants to know. But the grown up on the other shoulder is screaming “it’s none of your effing business” and you know what? He’s right.
We posted part of this the other day as a comment on a rather cryptic post on the CabFam Facebook page, the first we’d seen anybody mention a hiatus in public. This from a recent interview we did with Andy Falco.
“The best thing, the most important thing, we can do is just stay focused on making the music that’s the most genuine to us. As an artist, there’s an evolution that happens in the music. It’s our sort of personal musical journey. What is genuine is the most important thing as an artist and as a musician. That’s the most important thing . . . Hopefully it’ll keep evolving. Hopefully our music, and as artists, we will always be able to evolve.”
Right there is what we need to remember. This is not about us. This is not like Mom and Dad getting a divorce. What happens to the kids is none of, and should be none of, the band’s concerns. What they need to do is what got us to where we are right now — they have to follow their own artistic impulses. They need to go where they have a need to go. If we decide to come along for the ride, great. But that is not what should drive their decisions.
Here is Falco again:
“To me, once an audience starts to sort of expect artists to do a certain thing, but you can’t let that shape you. The point of being an artist is really be able to, over the course of your lifetime, explore your art, be able to do evolve freely. You’re never going to make everybody happy. And that’s OK.”
So are a lot of people sad today? Absolutely. Do they have reason to be? For certain. As Falco points out, that is O.K.
We all know the cliche about setting something you love free. Let’s not make this an ugly breakup. Let’s try to be happy for the band, that they are going to have a chance to pursue what they want to pursue. We’ll listen. We can’t promise we’ll like it, but we will definitely listen.
Matter of fact, we are listening to some Gatos Blancos as we write this. Prefer bluegrass, but this is good. We’re excited to learn more about Pappy’s upcoming “Pappygrass” project. We hear some interesting rumors about J.P. If we learn more we will let you know. For now you can catch him playing with Chris Kearney, of the old Coaltown Rounders. That duo would be worth seeing.
Jami Novak, by the way, seems pretty busy with Miz and also playing with Dave Brown’s Dishonest Fiddlers. We don’t know what Mickey, Todd, or Josh have in mind, but they are all three talented musicians. If they want to play, there are people who would love to play with them.
It’s not like somebody died. As their statement says, this is a hiatus for them as a band. Yes, it says indefinite. Yes, we do know a lot of people who were there for the Dead to say Fare The Well.
Maybe we will see them play together as a band again. If I were a betting man, I’d like the odds. But if not, well, we will have to figure that out won’t we.
For now, though, I’m going to stay optimistic. See you at the Breakdown in 2019.