Susquehanna Breakdown Music Festival Review
May 10th, 2014 in Scranton, PA
written by Larissa Nemeth
On Saturday May 10, Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA was the venue for Susquehanna Breakdown. This festival, formerly known as Old Farmer’s Ball, brought together a wide array of bluegrass acts that really made obvious the various shades of the genre.
There were three stages which were kept in good sync and easily traveled between, providing constant music for the crowd. All day the sky seemed to threaten rain. Despite the relatively overcast and windy weather, all attendees had a super sunny disposition. The covered pavilion of the main stage was well populated by a dancing crowd, even early on in the day, and along the back of the covered areas some really unique vendors (as well as some area staples) peddled their wares.
The venue is probably best known for being the annual home to the Peach Festival hosted by the Allman Brothers, and was a terrific host for the bands and the crowd that Saturday. This was without a doubt the most family-friendly festival I have ever attended. The music,vending, camping and even a small lawn area that the children and parents gravitated to (whether or not it was officially designated as a “family” space) were well divided, easy to travel through and clean. This show was however an odd dichotomy of big and little. The space the show was held in had a large venue feel, and with it large-venue prices ( $11.00 for a beer), but the way the bands mingled with the small spring-festival crowd and the community formed by the show-goers gave the Breakdown a smaller, more local-show feel.
This show had some great highlights for me. The old-timey Coal Town Rounders played one of the smaller stages near the entrance, and their show made it seem like you were watching someone at the Grand Ole Opry. Also listening to the slower-tempo Driftwood had some really interesting songs that were mesmerizing. My favorite performance of the day was Floodwood. This newer band includes members of Moe. and played several song with Ron Holloway. They had such a huge onstage personality and you could feel their energy all the way at the back of lawn. Towards the end of the set, the lead singer and fiddle player jumped down into the crowd and everyone went berserk!
From there on out it was a rager, and of course Cabinet brought the house down with their nighttime set. They opened with a short intro that led into Oxygen. They played a spaced out jazzy Shady Grove Jam which played out at close to 15 minutes. The set ended, fittingly, with a raucous version of the song Susquehanna Breakdown, which the fans really got down to, and readied the late-night revelers for the after-hours bands.
I’m really glad my family and I got a chance to mingle among the good people at the Breakdown whose tagline was “I’m high on Pennsylvania Bluegrass”…I know I was! Susquehanna Breakdown was a sort of hidden gem in the PA mountains, and it was a great way to kick off festival season 2014.