The Breakdown of the Susquehanna Breakdown

by May 23, 2016Music, Reviews

The Breakdown: Susquehanna Breakdown 2016

Susquehanna Breakdown is a music festival hosted by Cabinet at the Pavilion of Montage Mountain.  There were an amazing amount of magical music moments throughout the 2 days of camping and music.


We’ve picked out 8 musical moments from the Breakdown that really stood out for us:

The Breakdown came with a few hurdles that we easily got over.  Check out our Breakdown on the Breakdown to see how we prepared for this festy:

1.  Larry and Jenny Keel

The Keels are always an experience, but we were treated to a special intimate set by Larry and Jenny.  The Experience normally includes banjo bad-ass and Keel fishing buddy Will Lee.  Will is recovering from some health issues (get well soon, Will) and the Keel’s week-long string of bad luck culminated in his replacement breaking down along the way! (It is The Breakdown, after all!)  Larry and Jenny didn’t let that stop them from tearing it up on Friday night!

2.  Driftwood

Every festy we find a new crush.  Driftwood stole it at Susquehanna Breakdown!  This foursome from Binghamton, NY has an electrifying stage presence to match their big sound.  Singer/fiddler Claire Byrne can do some wicked things to a fiddle, and the group’s energy level kept us dancing non stop.

3.  Family Love

Cabinet rolls with a huge family and tons of friends, which helps to make Susquehanna Breakdown as special as it is.  In an incredible moment of love and gratitude to all those folks, Cabinet brought all of their closest on stage during their acoustic set for a very touching group sing-along!  We had tears in our eyes as we all belted out “Our House” and “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” along with the group onstage.  What a time!

4. Extending the Family

Speaking of family, Cabinet officially added to theirs this weekend by announcing Josh Karis as a member of the group.  Yup, you might not have thought it possible for Cabinet to get even better, but now they have two drummers.  Bluegrass + 2 Drummers =  Mind Blown.

5.  Philly Phunk

We always need some brass to go with our strings.  Swift Technique provided that in heavy doses! It doesn’t get more high-energy than this.  The crowd really had to work it to try to match the energy level of the crew onstage. Luckily, the horn section gave us a boost by joining us on the dance floor!  Can’t wait to catch this crew from Philly again!


6.  Twang = Womp

We’re bluegrass fans, that’s no secret.  We also like to get down and dirty, and that comes in many different forms.  When Twiddle took to the stage to close out the party on Saturday night, every butt was moving.  Contrary to a popular sentiment among bluegrass fans, Twiddle taught us that Twang = Womp, and putting the two together is the best Twomp of all!  (Trust me, “Twomp” is much better than “Wang“)

(sorry -too busy getting down for a good Twiddle picture!  Check out Brady Cooling Photography for a better view of the action!)

7.  You’ve got a friend…

Everyone was High on Pennsylvania Bluegrass, because we’ve all Got a Friend in Cabinet!  PA Pride was in full effect this weekend, and we were loving it.


8.  Shady Grove

When “Pappy and Friends” is on the schedule towards the end of a Cabinet festival, you know it will be good!  Pappy was joined by members of Cabinet, Fruition, Coal Town Rounders and more on The Breakdown Stage, and “Breakdown” they did!  The highlight was a rendition of Shady Grove that only could be described as Cabinety !  It was sweet and weird and funky and beautiful at all once.  As often as we hear this song, it was amazing to experience this completely different take on it.

The Breakdown on the Breakdown:

Susquehanna Breakdown 2016 was the 4th installment of this music festival hosted by Cabinet on Montage Mountain.  The venue, operated by Live Nation, is known for some larger events, like The Peach Festival in August.

Unlike Peach Fest, however, only a portion of the venue is used in attempt at a more intimate environment.  Instead of camping up the mountain, all camping takes place in what normally would be the “lawn” seats of the amphitheater.

This led to a new set of challenges for festy goers.

So, based on our experience, here is the Breakdown on the Breakdown:


No Alcohol was allowed in the campground, including alcohol purchased from the venue.  Drinking in the parking lot was permitted, and weekend pass holders were allowed to go in and out.

Our tip – leave a cooler in the car and head out for a beer or two when you find some time between sets.


Cooking devices were not allowed in the campgrounds.  There were food vendors on site, but 5-6 meals from the same few festy vendors can get hard on the stomach and wallet!

Our tip – Bring some prepared foods.  We made a batch of pasta salad and brought some pre-cooked cold pizza, along with some yogurt and granola for breakfast.  This, along with one purchased meal from the festival easily got us through the weekend.  You also could set up your propane grill in the parking lot and cook up a burger or grilled cheese while you’re sneaking out for a beer!


Pack light, and bring a cart! (We picked up this handy folding roller cart from Amazon.  It was a life saver!) The camping is pretty packed in, but you can’t beat your proximity to the stage.  That being said, don’t prepare for much sleep!

This collapsible cart from Amazon was a life-saver at Susquehanna Breakdown!

Friday night the later sets were on the Breakdown Stage, which was a hundred yards or so from the campground, but Saturday night had music on the main stage until 2:30 AM.  You’re there for the music anyway, so this shouldn’t be a problem.  However, when the music came to an end and the crew immediately started very loudly breaking down the entire stage setup, working under bright lights until the sun came up, well, no nice way to put it, that sucked.

Our tip – suck it up.  It’s only 2 nights, pull up your boot straps and prepare for a long night.  Of course, you could bring ear plugs and eye masks.  That would be the adulting thing to do!


The Breakdown Bottom Line____

All festivals come with some challenges.  If that’s not your thing, stay home and watch MTV all weekend.  (Is that still a thing?  I wonder where Martha Quinn is now…)

Otherwise, read the festival rules ahead of time, know what you’re getting into, and be prepared!

Is Beyoncé’s “COWBOY CARTER” Album Country?

We take a look at Beyoncé’s new album “Country Carter”, and delve into why the country world is having a fit about this particular pop star making a so-called country album. What really defines a genre of music, and who decides on that genre?

MerleFest Announces Initial 2024 Lineup – Old Crow Medicine Show, Turnpike Troubadours, The Teskey Brothers, Nickel Creek, and More

The 36th Annual Merlefest will take place April 25 – 28, 2024 on the campus of Wilkes Community College, and feature headliners Old Crow Medicine Show and Turnpike Troubadours along with MerleFest favorites Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, and The Earls of Leicester.

Stephen Jacques on New Album: “Groove Atlantic-O” [INTERVIEW]

An interview with artist/songwriter Stephen Jacques on his latest album, “Groove Atlantic-O”

The 16th Annual Gem & Jam Festival Takes Place Feb 2 – 4, 2024

The 16th Gem & Jam Festival is a 3-day music, art, performance, and gem & mineral festival at the Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson, Arizona.

Tico Time Bluegrass Announces Railroad Earth and Kitchen Dwellers as 2024 Headliners

Tickets are on sale for the 4th Annual Tico Time Bluegrass Festival, featuring Railroad Earth, Elephant Revival, The Kitchen Dwellers and The Lil Smokies.