This year began with a great deal of hope and excitement for Tampa’s “unofficial” theme song. After being blessed with a generous donation, I was able to fulfill a decade long dream to complete a studio recording of “I Remember … Continue reading
Tampa’s unique history is relived through this passionate rendition of “I Remember Tampa”, as interpreted by James Marvell, former singer for 60’s chart busting group, Mercy. James is a Tampa native who grew up in Ybor City. His dad, Sal, was a renowned barber in Tampa, and one of his young customers back in the 60’s was Mike Baluja, the songwriter who composed “I Remember Tampa”. This is the second Tampa themed song that the two artists have collaborated on. The first was Marvell’s “Tampa, The Perfect City for Me”, which was produced by Baluja. They share an unparalleled love for Tampa. James recorded his version at Dreamlab Recording Studio, where owner, Michael Chauncey, remastered and added harmonies.
I recently completed a rewrite of “I Remember Tampa”, which I began working on earlier in the year. I wanted to create a keepsake for everyone who visits during Super Bowl LV. The original version of the song addresses a love for Tampa from the perspective of someone who has either grown up here, or has spent a substantial amount of time here, and laments the changes that have occurred, idealizing the past…longing for qa Tampa that no longer exists. The “new” version is more “for the moment”…written from the perspective of someone who visited Tampa, and fell in love with the city, the way she is right now. Gone from the refrain is “I’m a Tampa Native”, and in its place, “I’m in love with Tampa.” It addresses the visitor’s desire to keep coming back…frequently. The pics speak for themselves, describing why Tampa is so appealing…so lovable. They were all downloaded from VisitTampaBay.com. I also used some video that a friend of mine shot a few years ago. As a matter of fact, it was the year that the Republican National Convention was held here, so you will see a short clip that references it. I uploaded several versions of the song, with varying lyrical ideas. They are all available on the I Remember Tampa YouTube channel I created.
“This love affair was meant grow, this endless bound, now, don’t you know.”
I’ve written many songs, but this one will always have a special place in my heart. It’s the greatest gift that I can give back to Tampa for all the special moments and memories she’s given me.
I Remember Tampa
Available online at…
Amazon Music: https://www.amazon.com/I-Remember-Tam…
Written and Recorded by Mike Baluja
Executive Producer: William Epps
Creative Director: Mario Nuñez
Recorded and Produced at Paris Recording Studio
Owner and Sound Engineer: Eric Maldonado
Arranger and Bass Guitar: Kevin Pagan
Drums/Percussion: Luis Alicea
Trumpets: Luis Chafalote
Piano: Yassel Pupo Alonso
Guitar: Levi Lopez
Lead Vocal: Mike Baluja
Back Up Vocals: Mario Nuñez
Back in 2010, I wrote a song called “Invisible”, which was my attempt to create an awareness of and empathy for, the rapidly growing homeless population throughout the nation, and in particular, throughout the city of Tampa. Fast forward to 2019, where we find homelessness an inescapable social malady that, no matter how hard we try, we can not ignore. Where once, the harsh reality was mostly contained within certain areas of downtown, now, it has spread to every major intersection, convenience store, interstate crossing, city park, and more. It hurts to see them…it hurts to ignore them…but it must hurt far worse to be them.
The artist, Renato Rampolla, whose photographs are featured in this video, has done an exceptional job of capturing the despair, the hopelessness, and the devastation that the homeless deal with every minute of every day in their lives on the streets. Ron’s 18 month journey into their dark world is a very interesting story, and his book, Dignity No Matter What, is a riveting look into their lives; complete with captions, in their own words. For more information on how to obtain a copy, visit his website at:
All proceeds from the sale of the book go to a local, hands-on charitable organization called, Blanket Tampa Bay. You can also find out more about them through Ron’s website.
Digital copies of the song, Ybor City, available at Bandcamp:
Ybor City is filled with a rich history of architectural, culinary, industrial, and cultural distinction, reflective of its multi-ethnic composition. The man singing its song, Tony Garcia, has been involved with this community his entire life. Many who have known him are unaware of the talent that he’s been blessed with. I have known him for nearly 40 years, and until a year or two ago, I had no idea that he was a gifted vocalist. After seeing him live for the first time at the third annual Flavor of West Tampa, we sat down and talked about our respective passions for music. I found out that he just began singing publicly about 5 years ago. I asked if he had any recordings of his work and was surprised to find out that he did not. I suggested that we get together and lay something down…something we could share online, and perhaps archive on one of the many music sites for independent artists. We started with the Bobby Caldwell’s hit, “What You Won’t Do For Love,” because it offered Tony a chance to showcase the warmth and range of his voice. While working on that cover, Tony suggested one of my songs, Ybor City, for the follow up project. Naturally, I was very excited about the prospect of having him interpret one of my works. We got together once again, and the results surpassed my expectations. Tony was able to breathe new life into my song, and after mixing and listening countless times, I am certain that it will be well received by local and national fans of this historic community. Do yourself a favor, though. Make sure that you listen through a decent set of speakers or headphones. It’s essential. It’s the only way you can get the full effect of Tony’s dynamic rendering. Now, sit back, and enjoy the soothing sounds of Tampa native, Tony Garcia, as he pours his heart and soul into “Ybor City”.
Today (4/8), my baby boy turns 30, and tomorrow (4/9), his baby girl turns 2. Feeling blessed to be a father and an Abuelo, celebrating these two very special occasions in my life. They represent the next two generations of … Continue reading
I have begun to post my work on Bandcamp, where songs can be purchased individually, or as part of an entire CD. At the moment, only my two latest projects have been posted, but as time progresses I will make most of my catalogue available. Please share my link with friends, family, and fans that you feel might be interested in my work.
I’d like to thank 970 WFLA’s AM Tampa Bay and their crew, Jack Harris, Tedd Webb, and Corey Dylan for reblogging I Remember Tampa yesterday. It was in May of last year that I originally posted the video on YouTube. In early June, it started skyrocketing in views after Jack mentioned it on his morning show and posted it on his blog. Since that time, it has been seen over 24,000 times, and that number has been steadily climbing every month. I’d also like to thank Dan Perez for posting it and identifying the sources of all the pictures on his wonderful Tampapix website, which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this month. And, of course, I’d like to thank The Tampa Natives Show and its hosts, Mario Núñez, Sally Núñez, and Steve Cannella for inspiring the song through their efforts in preserving Tampa’s rich history, and for believing in my work enough to embrace I Remember Tampa as the show’s theme song. Last but not least, I’d like to thank all the fans and followers of these programs and sites for taking the time to view, comment on, and share the video. I know all this activity stems from our mutual love for this city. Something tells me that this video has only scratched the surface of potential views, and that as long as it remains archived throughout the web, future generations will gravitate towards it and keep coming back when they want to reminisce about the experiences here in Tampa.
34 years ago, my father sent a cassette tape to his family in Cuba. The tape contained recordings of him and my mom greeting familiy members and sending them their love. I was also on it, singing one of the first songs I had ever written as I attempted to express my sentiments for the family I had never seen. Remarkably, the tape survived the test of time, and on a recent trip to Cuba, my cousin was able to obtain the cassette from my brother and return it to the United States. As an added bonus to this wonderful surprise, on the flip side of this cassette, there were several recordings of the punto guajiro jam sessions that my father would attend at that time. Two of the names I remember from this period…1979…were Medero and Trujillo. I’m not sure who it is on this particular clip about my dad, but I sure am glad to have been able to digitally preserve it. Here it is along with some photos of my dad and some present day video footage of my brother in Cuba.