James F."Buster" Mondello


It all started for us Musically with my Grandfather Frank Mondello
(Far right, guitar banjo)

He was a well known and respected musician in the Boston Local



My Dad is the young boy,my
          Granpa is to your left of him
My Dad is the young boy.
Slingerland banjo is his.My Granpa is to his right.
Stromberg Deluxe banjo in the center is his.

This is a view of the peghead.
We are still searching for it and it has never surfaced.
I have had or have seen many Stromberg banjos but he inlayed this himself and there is no other pattern like it.
I will know it if I ever see it!
Sadly he had to borrow money against it with the promise it would come back to our family but something happened and it did not.


This shot is a "Mockup" that is a stage setting in the background
Notice the black top on the G3, that is a story all its own.

Downtown Boston, by the Bowdoin Theatre
Headed to a gig
That's his flatback Czech Bass, would be worth a few bucks today.


Dad was with the Army Band stationed in Texarkana Tx.
Shown with his Stromberg G3

This was a "Western Days" costume, no Bostonian in his right mind would appear in this getup!

And this was back in his pipe smoking days, a habit that he had  dropped by the birth of my Brother in 1947



There were many bands that are nameless in my mind, this would be one of them.
I can remember sitting and playing with a few army men in a corner somewhere while these types played, argued, composed.......decomposed until you thought they were never going to learn the tune.
Only in later years did I realize all musicians were like this!

Playing some tunes with my Grandpa Frank on Banjo Mandolin ,and Joe White, or in reality "Capobianco" :)

Irving was a childhood friend of Dad's and they hung out at the Stromberg shop playing whatever Elmer was building as did many up and coming Boston guitarists of the day.
They stayed in contact for many years until Irving's passing in the 1980s


After he got off the road there was the life in East Texas
Dad on an Epiphone, at "Elicia's Latin Quarter", a local nite club here in Longview
He made the rounds with trios and quartets, taught music, and started to taper off from the main spotlights

We still wonder what happened to this Vega banjo with the Bacon  Senorita celluloid neck!
None of us remember it for ANYTHING!

DAD Pics
This is the only other pic it is in, all I can think is that when he went to Boston John Di Pietro put this neck on his Vega maybe while he fretted Dads neck, then mailed the neck back.....its a mystery.

  My Grandfather on guitar, My Dad on guitar and myself  on baritone uke all playing an instrument at the same time.
My Auntie Pat and Lil are there, as well as John Di Pietro on Mandolin and Joey Sparaco on Banjo and my cousin Lisa ready to dance!

DAD Pics

On a  Vegaphone "Artist"  in the 60's

With the "Buzz Messner Trio.
Dad was playing Bass 95 percent of the time with occasional guitar and banjo breaks.
Dad and Buzz (Organ) played together of and on for over 40 years and Dad taught music at Buzz's Music Store and they remained friends and played up until Buzz's passing in the 1990s
Another good family friend was Dave Dailey (Drums)
I grew up with all these people around me.

On a visit to Boston, with a friends Stromberg


With my grandfather at my cousin Anna's christening.

At an Elk's Lodge get together on the Vegaphone.


Crims' Chapel Tx

With three Strombergs

With all of the Stromberg Family
He looks so sad!!!!!

Dad and I

He's on his Stromberg, I'm on the Mastervox.
Mom is listening to the racket!

Dad and I

Dad and I

There's that unhappy banjoist' look
Trying to keep up with an 83 yr. old man!

Checking out the "Tsumura's 1001 banjos"
He really enjoyed seeing all of the best of the best.
He had no idea that so many fine banjos were built, and was especially happy to see the Stromberg section.

Here he is with my youngest daughter Erica, teaching her a few things on her banjo uke.

Dad and I getting in a little playing time, and working on some of my
songs from the ABB book.

Smiles decreasing..cramps increasing.


Back to happy faces!

Playing on a Stromberg Marimba
He always got to play any Strombergs and Vegas  passing thru my hands

Here he is in Longview at Johnny Caces, a popular restaurant in our area for years and the piano player Stan, and Dad had played many times all over town so it was good to see them once again
You see the banjo players tip jar is more full than piano?
That's when you got it fella!

 At a Lions club get-together

  2002 -2011
Elderville Tx

Here we are in my shop, with a friend,Jeremy Wheless, a guitar player in the Marshall Ford Swing Band out of Austin Tx.
Dad is still very able to talk chord progressions and inversions and never tires of telling anyone that will listen, what chord would sound better than the one they are using!

He is on the 6 string  here, showing something as Jeremy learns some mandolin



Loving on my Stromberg Deluxe


Spending time with Tyler Jackson and his friend Patrick in my shop.
Hanging with musicians was his favorite pastime
And petting whatever dog was in his lap , which is usually Plectra!


After his stroke he had many difficulties and did not regain his playing skill but this did not stop him from plucking the strings on whatever I had in my shop.
At 93 years old, he had a long run at it, and this is something to be proud of.
He did what he loved as long as he could do it and we all benefited from having him in our lives.

Now for some well needed  rest,...

The music in Heaven just got a lot livelier!

with Love,
 Gregory and Vincent Mondello and all those who knew him , ..you know who you are.

Pictorial History of Dad's Stromberg G3
(Some pics are repeated from above)

After many years of searching, this instrument turned up in a Boston Music Store and an internet person sent me an email alerting me.
The Guitar was sold by my Dad in the 1950s for around 600.00 and he paid a little over 350.00 for it new.
The Guitar was re-topped in the 1930s after Dad broke a Drunk's Jaw when he attempted to grab the guitar from Dad and scratched the top finish with a Diamond ring.
Elmer Stromberg replaced the top and told Dad "That is not covered under the lifetime warranty" so Dad took the man to civil court and won damages.
He thought he would be cool and detune the guitar to make it sound broken, and the Judge actually asked him to play a tune and he muffed it up.
After the trial, Dad said the Judge called him up and said "I know your Father and I know you can play so do not ever try and fool me in my courtroom again or I will tell your Father!"
Dad said he felt his face turn white and then RED!
So it was good to have finally seen that it still exists and someone will end up with a fine guitar.
We heard it was going into a museum in Shanghai, Dad would get a kick out of that, he would be saying how his Axe was "Shanghai'ed"!!

Earliest Pics

This is not a Bar, that is a Backdrop and a Gag Shot
I do not know "Nickie" but Joe is Joe White (Capobianco) another great Boston Musician
Notice the black top and the original tailpiece.


A Yankee out of Context!
With his electric pickup and tailpiece changed

And in his Army Years in Texarkana Tx.
Notice the changed pick guard, he said the original disintegrated



That is the correct signature, my Dad was big on quotations, refer back to 1930s pics