Ybor City’s In My Heart

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”.

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The Magic of Music Meets the Classic Western

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.

Unthinkable Thoughts

My New Storefront

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.

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I Remember Tampa: Thanks for Listening, Thanks For Sharing

970 WFLA AM Tampa Bay 5/23/13 Reblog

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.

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Punto Guajiro Preserved: Memories of My Father

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.

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Local Bands that Blazed the Trail

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.

The Trail of Local Rock and Roll

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I’ll Be With You

In January 2013, I began experimenting with my grandson’s Ipad, and more specifically, with a popular Apple App called Garageband. The first thing that I produced with the help of Garageband was “I’ll Be With You”, a song which reflects on the struggles of the human condition and the way that I have chosen to deal with them. Once the song was completed, I accumulated a few images, put together a lyric video, and posted it on YouTube. As usual, I began to share the video’s link on a few other social networks, including Tumblr, Google +, and Twitter. And as usual, I got a hit here and a hit there, but nothing resembling the viral response I’d love to get for each song I release. But then again, my contention has always been that if one of my songs can move just one listener, I’ve done my job. That is why I do what I do. It’s not for monetary gain or notoriety…I’ve learned to live without either. I write, record, and produce because for whatever reason, which I do not question, I am compelled to do so. It is my calling, and at this stage of my life, my intention is simply to share what I’ve got to give with as many people as will listen. And once in a while, when a song affects someone, the ripple effect that is created leads to some very enlightening moments. This morning, I noticed that one listener had favorited the song on Twitter. His name is Eugene Chung. My curiosity to learn more about this one listener who responded to my post led me through a two hour crash course on solipsism, the singularity, Aaron Schwartz, life, death, compounding technological advancements, the film industry, SOPA/PIPA, and a host of fascinating details betwixt and between. Ultimately, the experience led me to this blog installment, which is dedicated to the serendipitous ripple effect that can sometimes be encountered in the slightest of crevasses on the wild, wild web.

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I’ll Be With You

I Remember Mark Beiro (The Early Years)

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Growing up in West Tampa, there was a learning institution that had nothing to do with formal education, yet some of life’s most valuable lessons were learned there. The name of that institution was West Tampa Little League. In fact, you might say that some kids got their first opportunity at on-the-spot career training there, be it as a future player, coach, umpire, politician, or entrepreneur. One of those kids was a boy by the name of Mark Beiro. He was a few years older than me, and although I can’t say that I knew him personally, it was almost impossible not to know of him. He had one of those vibrant personalities that made him stand out in the crowd. And that personality would ultimately find a place to come alive and thrive in when Mark discovered his true calling, which happened to be behind a microphone. I can remember anxiously approaching the fields on Saturday morning, and hearing him announcing the player’s names with an emphasis and precision that immediately validated each child just for participating. His play by plays made us all feel like we were in the big leagues. He made the games special through the passion he displayed for announcing. And the rest is history. His voice would lead him from the fields of West Tampa to the Tampa Jai Alai Fronton, Professional Boxing, Battlebots, and various radio programs. Through the years, Mark has continued to make a name for himself in the world of broadcasting. This Thursday, he will be a guest on The Tamap Natives Show for the second consecutive week, sharing his memories of growing up in Tampa. Don’t miss your chance to get to know one of Tampa’s legendary personalities. Call in, live, and say hello to Mark Beiro.

The Test of Time

The Best of the Best

No greater group of servers ever graced this universe.

Pictured here is one of the greatest assembly of servers in the history of fine dining. I’ve often compared this picture to that of an elite professional baseball team from the past. It has all the essential characteristics (including a few members of legendary stature) that you might find in one of those classic team shots on an old baseball card or in a collectible program guide.  Tonight, one of those legends, Joe Roman, joins many of his former teammates, including my father, Miguel, at that big 5 Star Restaurant in the sky. Joe was a true Hall of Famer, not only in the service industry, but as a husband, a father, and a friend as well. He will be remembered by many as the singing waiter and Ambassador at Tampa’s historic Columbia Restaurant. But I will always remember him as a warm, loving godfather, who did his best to make me feel special whenever he’d see me.  Coincidentally, his passing comes right before the holidays. Back in my younger years,  the December 24th gatherings at his home in Ybor taught me my first lessons on what it meant to revere Christmas and Family. God bless you, Joe, and may your soul rest in everlasting peace.

Young Joe

Honorary Ambassador at the world famous Columbia Restaurant