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
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.
It’s been quite some time since I blogged anything, so in an effort to reaclimate myself with the process, I will write something short and sweet about my newest remix and pictorial video of I Remember Tampa, featuring alternate images memorable places and people from this city’s past. All pics were downloaded from the Tampa Natives Facebook page, but they probably originated from varied individual posts. Hopefully, you will enjoy this upbeat version of the song.
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.
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.
Do you remember what local bands rocked your world when you were growing up? How about the bands that actually went on to regional or national recognition? They were the trailblazers of the local rock scene…the one’s that provided the live entertainment at our night clubs, civic centers, auditoriums, weddings, and high school dances. The most prominent from my generation were Blues Image, Mercy, and White Witch. Some lesser known, but equally vital, local acts included Pieces, Bacchus, Rock and Roll Circus, Joey Ray and the Ritual, Circles, Strut, and a host of others that elude my feeble memory at the moment. These bands not only entertained us, they inspired us well. On a personal level, they were the ones that influenced my decision to devote my life to songwriting.
And let us not forget the radio stations and discjockeys that had a hand in developing the market. Stations like WLCY AM and WQSR FM, and DJs like Tedd Webb and Rick Randall, also helped to pave the way for the growth of the local music scene. I know that all these trailblazers helped to make Tampa what it is today…a continually growing hotbed for musical talent and up and coming artists who are producing work that is making its mark throughout the world. It was in honor of the early pioneers of our local music scene that I wrote the song “The Trail of Local Rock and Roll”. And if I left out anyone in the video I’m linking you to now (and I know I did), please forgive me. It was not intentional, and I would certainly appreciate any comments reminding of other great artist from the Bay Area that I may have forgotten about. My objective was to pay tribute to everyone, in general, that helped make Tampa’s music scene what it is today.