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.
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.
Every December, thanks to my wife, our home turns into a mini wonderland. Amazingly, she manages to muster up the energy to take our Christmas boxes out of storage, unpack all of the decorations, and meticulously place them in … Continue reading
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”.
Part of growing up in Tampa, or anywhere else in America during the 60’s, involved being at the theater, a drive-in, or in front of a television set and watching a classic western. Rio Bravo has long been one of my favorites. It mixes action, drama, comedy, costume, and spectacular cinematography with a star studded cast to produce one of the most feel good movie experiences in film history. My favorite scene involves a lighthearted musical moment when legendary crooner, Dean Martin, and teen idol, Ricky Nelson, share the stage on a couple of standards. I have often posted the link to this scene on social media sites, but I have never explained why I enjoy it so much. I’m not sure that I can. It’s just that I get this overwhelming sense of heavenly peace when I hear and see the interaction of these actors playing off of each other. It’s absolutely timeless. So sit back, take five, and enjoy this clip, which also features Walter Brennan on harmonica, and the late, great John Wayne just sipping on a cup of coffee. Funny thing is, “Duke” (the star of the show) is the only one who doesn’t have a line in the scene. But believe me, the look on his face says it all.
Happy Birthday, Tony…
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