Artist: Richard Barone.
Personnel: Barone, vocals, electric guitar; Jane Scarpantoni, cello; Nick Celeste, acoustic guitar; Valerie Naranjo, percussion, vibes, piano.
History: Richard Barone's group the Bongos hasn't replaced Frank Sinatra as the favorite musical son of Hoboken, N.J., but after the release in 1982 of its debut album "Drums Along the Hudson," the band quickly moved to the forefront of the cultish East Coast underground pop scene. Guitarist James Mastro subsequently joined Barone, bassist Rob Norris and drummer Frank Giannini and became a second major force in the Bongos' brew. The Barone/Mastro duality was imaginatively exploited in 1983's "Nuts and Bolts," an LP they recorded in North Carolina with Mitch Easter showcasing Barone's music on one side and Mastro's on the other. The Bongos moved from the independent PVC label to RCA and released a 1983 mini-album, "Numbers With Wings," and followed it with the 1985 LP "Beat Hotel." Mastro then left the Bongos and formed the group Strange Cave while Barone, inspired by his work on "Nuts and Bolts," undertook a solo side project. He opened for Suzanne Vega on her East Coast tour last summer, and a show at the Bottom Line in New York was recorded and released last September as the album "Cool Blue Halo" (on Passport). The Bongos (Barone, Norris, Giannini and new members Ivan Julian and George Usher) are working on new material and looking for a label.