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Hoboken Fall Arts & Music Fest: Surprises, delights

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM No use without hyperlink
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM No use without hyperlink
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM No use without hyperlink
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM No use without hyperlink
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM No use without hyperlink

Delightful surprises once again made the fall Hoboken Arts & Music Festival memorable for hundreds — including the crafters, artists, and performers who made it all possible.

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It included the crisp power-pop of the teenaged female trio Care Bears on Fire, the breathy baritone of Emily Turonis and dozens of funky clocks crafted from photos of Bruce Springsteen, Derek Jeter, and Asbury Park landmarks, among others. The emotional center was Hoboken’s adoptive son, Richard Barone.

The onetime leader of 80s New Wave darlings the Bongos unveiled a stage show, augmented by Deni Bonet’s fiery violin, that more than matches his inspiring new CD, “Glow.”

More than 300 artists, crafters, photographers, food vendors weathered the occasional wind gust, on a crisp fall day that made for comfortable strolling through a tunnel of creativity, from Observer Highway to 7th Street.

Throughout the early and late afternoon, crowds flocked to  stands outfitted with pottery, metalwork, jewelry, paintings and other precious items.

Foot traffic got tight early, a rich variety of food stands did constant business, and even the priciest items — including a wall sculpture made from an electric guitar — drew plenty of interest.

The children’s area was a bee hive, with rides, games, face painting and performances.

The main stage was set up in front of City Hall on one side and Carlo’s “The Cake Boss” Bakery, where gawkers with cameras waited patiently, as usual, for a chance to go inside.

It was there that Barone — a Sixties musicologist — delighted his audience with a poignant tribute a week before John Lennon’s 70th birthday.

“I wanted to do something special,” Barone told CLIFFVIEW PILOT afterward: His version of “It’s Only Love” was extremely heartfelt — one of Richard’s most distinctive traits.

His solo compositions, along with a few Bongos tunes (“Numbers With Wings” and “Barbarella” were fun to hear) supported the new songs from “Glow.” It included a reprise for the video cameras of the title song, which had some in the crowd singing along.

“You might see yourself on YouTube,” Barone told the clapping fans.

Richard has done terrific work before. But he hasn’t whiffed the rarified air of his friends and mentors, including Lou Reed and David Bowie. His game has a different feel this time, though. The music is more poppish and polished; his voice is strong as ever — same as his enthusiasm — and the band is as tight as it is talented. This could be the start of something special.

Another surprise was the sultry Turonis, complemented by a standup bass player and a seated electric guitarist — a pair she dubbed “Art Desimine.”

Few names should be mentioned in the same sentence as Patsy Cline’s, or Brenda Lee’s. Toronic’s range and rasp called both to mind, though. Her “Everybody Loves My Baby” went from breathy to breakneck and back again.

Several passersby stopped in their tracks, or headed toward the stage to find the source of a luscious “Besame Mucho,” sighed, breathed deeply, lifted one cowboy-booted foot, then another, and pulled it all in — like Pacino in the third “Godfather.”

The Brooklyn-based Care Bears on Fire — whose songs include “Barbie Eat a Sandwich” — had their own enticing effect. Three girls flying through melodic power pop, the beat never lagging, will do that.

So will a festival that, after all these years, still has the spark and glow that make it a can’t-miss treat.

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