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Video Premiere: "Right Words, Wrong Song" by James Mastro [of The Bongos] (feat. Ian Hunter)

1 December 2023

Hoboken-based rock/Americana singer-songwriter-guitarist James Mastro (The Bongos, Health & Happiness Show) has just shared a brilliant video for “Right Words, Wrong Song”, the rocking lead track on his forthcoming debut solo album, Dawn of a New Error (due Feb. 21,2024) via MPress Records. The song and video feature guest vocals/appearances by the inimitable Ian Hunter.

The raucous “Right Words, Wrong” song finds the renowned bandleader/touring guitarist (Ian Hunter, Patti Smith, Alejandro Escovedo) stepping out as frontman. With his roots-rock Springsteen-esque vocal delivery, Mastro’s single bursts with timeless rock hooks and clever lyrics about a serious topic – the slant on news, where “truth” is shaped to fit a preferential narrative.The video is a a tongue-in-cheek take on the evening news, where Mastro patterns his character on the astute Stephen Colbert, while the irreverent Tammy Faye parodies a co-anchor and music contest judge.

Mastro explains the song, saying: “These days one has the option via all the media outlets to choose the “truth” that works best for them. Science loses the argument to “gut instinct.” This song is about opposites, not how they attract, but how they’ve come to push us farther away from each other. Over the years from working with Ian Hunter I learned to be honest in what you write and say. And the more disregard we’ve witnessed of this in the mainstream the past few years, the more it pushed me to write this song.”

Dawn of a New Error marks the return of James Mastro to the front and center as singer and songwriter. Featuring guest vocals by Ian Hunter and produced by Tony Shanahan – best known as Patti Smith’s bassist, co-producer and musical collaborator – the songs were recorded whenever Mastro and Shanahan found time to get together, between Shanahan’s work with Smith and Mastro’s work with Hunter and other projects. Noteworthy drummers on the record include the late Louie Appel (Southside Johnny), Brian Griffin (Brandi Carlile, Black Crowes), Steve Goulding (The Mekons, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe), and Bill Dubrow (Yoko Ono, Linda Thompson). The album was recorded and mixed by Grammy® nominee James Frazee (Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten, Marshall Crenshaw), and mastered by the legendary Greg Calbi.

James Mastro has been a highly-regarded songwriter and guitarist since his teen years in CBGB stalwarts The Richard Lloyd Group, playing guitar on the Elektra Records release Alchemy. Mastro is a founder (along with singer Richard Barone) of The Bongos, a radio and MTV staple who released three lauded records – Nuts & Bolts (JEM), Numbers With Wings (RCA/re-released October, 2023), and Beat Hotel (RCA). In 1992 he moved to center stage as frontman for Americana fave The Health & Happiness Show, releasing three critically acclaimed albums: Tonic, Instant Living (Bar-None), and Sad and Sexy (Cropduster). The band spent the next 10 years touring incessantly, opening for Wilco, Johnny Cash, Golden Smog, Barenaked Ladies, Beat Farmers, The Blasters, Kirsty MacColl, and served as the backing band for Texas troubadour Butch Hancock. In 2001 he joined ranks with Mott the Hoople’s legendary singer Ian Hunter and has served as his left-hand man ever since, touring and playing on Hunter’s last six albums: Rant, Shrunken Heads, Man Overboard, Live in the UK, When I’m President, and Defiance Pt. 1. In between his recording work with Hunter, he toured as a guitarist with Mott the Hoops ’74, Patti Smith, John Cale, Judy Collins, Alejandro Escovedo, Garland Jeffreys, The Jayhawks, and Southside Johnny. His studio and session work is extensive, and includes playing guitar on the late, great Phoebe Snow’s Natural Wonder and Marti Jones’s Match Game. Production credits include Steve Wynn’s “The Devil’s Not That Kind,” Jill Sobule’s “Just A Little Lovin’,” Amy Speace’s Songs for Bright Street and The Killer In Me, and Tiny Lights’ The Smaller the Grape, the Sweeter the Wine. Mastro has just produced Ian Hunter doing a version of Jesse Malin’s song “Dead On,” for an upcoming benefit record to help raise funds to aid Malin, who is suffering a serious health issue.