I Remember “I Remember Tampa”

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

James Marvell Sings “I Remember Tampa”

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.

James Marvell

Super Bowl LV: I’m in Love with Tampa…

I Remember Tampa…and she remembers me!

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…

YouTube: https://youtu.be/W9tmi7chtpw

ITunes: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/bal…

Pandora: https://pandora.app.link/7Rm1jY6DS7


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

Tampa’s Daily Double




Downtown Tampa …

ImageDowntown Tampa through the eyes of Cherie Diez…Click on this beautiful photo to see images of Tampa’s past and to hear the Tampa Natives Show theme song, I Remember Tampa.

Tampa (the perfect city for me)…Official Video Debut

Back on August 26th, I wrote a few lines about my childhood barber, Salvador Zayas, who is now approaching his monumental 100th birthday. I also posted a video of Sal and his son, James, singing a song that James wrote about the great city of Tampa…a song that was inspired by both his parents. Since that time, I have had an opportunity to work with James on producing an updated version of that song and a brand new video to accompany it. I think James has managed to say what so many of us feel about our hometown…and he does so with an invigorating vocal performance. The images capture both, the beauty of the bay area and the moments in the life of a legengdary Tampanian, his family, and friends.

The Tampa Natives Show: A Cult Classic in the Making

TNS Photo

Mario, Sally, and Steve

For the past 3 years, Tampa has been the beneficiary of a unique television experience specifically designed to celebrate and preserve the city’s colorful past. Each week, The Tampa Natives Show comes into the homes of thousands of viewers, in the form of a live broadcast that features rare pictures and/or video footage pertaining to carefully selected topics that appeal to those who were either born in Tampa or who have lived here long enough to call this city Home. For the most part, these topics lead fans through an invigorating trip down memory lane–one that leaves them feeling spiritually renewed by the end of what is affectionately referred to as “the fastest 60 minutes in cable braodcast history.”  The show’s hosts are Mario Núñez, “Tampa” Steve Cannella, and  Sally Núñez, aka, The 15 Minute Girl. With the aid of their phone correspondent, “Hello Dory” Antinori, they invite viewers to call in and reflect on the topic of the hour.  You never know who will call: from Olympic Gold Medalist Brooke Bennett to legendary meteorologist Roy Leep…even Mayor Bob Buckhorn has chimed in to praise the show’s efforts. Some of the show’s more memorable moments have featured special guests, such as former pro baseball player and manager Lou Piniella, former wrestling champion Mike Graham, and  author John Cinchett. What’s more, if you happen to miss the show, or you just want to see an episode again, you can visit TNS’s website at www.tampanativesshow.com and browse through their archives. There you will find nearly every installment that’s aired since day one.  It’s a wonderfully addicting experience and one that seems to be gaining momentum with each passing season. The Tampa Natives Show can be seen live, every Thusday night, at 7:00 p.m., on Brighthouse 950, Verizon 30, Comcast 20, or on the web, at TBCN.org (click “Watch Us”).  To get an idea of what the show is all about, watch the video of their popular theme song,  I Remember Tampa.

The System In Control Of Tampa

I just read my freind’s blog in the Huffington Post, Tampa: City Under Siege or Control, and it appears that The System is alive and well, flexing its muscles, and definitely in control of Republicans, Democrats, Independentts, Indifferents, and everyone else on either end of the political spectrum in my hometown of Tampa.

The System

What’s your name
Where’s your id
I need to check you out to see
If you’re in the System
The System
No SSI, you’re MIA
I hate to say it, but no way
That you’re in the System
The System
He is in the System
She is in the System
They are in the System
And me…
I’m in the System with them
Where’s the nation we replaced
How’d the whole damn human race
Fall into the System
The System
And where in God’s name will it end
Feel the emptiness within
When you’re in the System
The System
He is in the System
She is in the System
They are in the System
And me…
I’m in the System with them
We’re like zombies walkin’ thru a desert land
Where the spirit is defeated by the greed of man
The System
Oh, the System
Once you’re in, you’re in for good
Needless to say, misunderstood
Laughing at The System
Ha, the System
Locked up in the System
Trapped inside the System
Fall into the System
Crawl into The Sytem
I’m in the System with them.

Tampa: The Perfect City For Me

This particular memory of Tampa involves a gentleman that is now 100 years young. His name is Sal, and he was my first barber. About a year ago, I ran into him in a rather serendipitous manner. While working my part time job at the Home Depot in West Tampa, I noticed a man with a distressed look on his face wandering back and forth in front of my table. I asked what the matter was, and he told me that he was looking for his father, whom he’d lost track of while shopping. Come to find out, his father was Sal. I hadn’t seen him in over 40 years…I didn’t even know that he was still alive. It was such a pleasure meeting up with him again and knowing that he still remembered me. He talked about my father, who passed away in 1987, and reminded me of what a well loved man he was. Coincidentally, Sal and my father bore a striking resemblance to each other when they were younger. Even more coincindental was the fact that my father’s birthday was the following day, and with this chance meeting, I had an opportunity to remember things about him that I hadn’t thought of in years. I remembered him taking me to Sal’s barbershop, where I’d be propped up in a booster seat to get my haircut. I remembered the horseracing themed pinball machine that I’d play whenever I went to Sal’s barbershop. I also remembered the “bodega” next door, where I’d go to buy an ice cold coke while my father was getting his haircut. And lastly, I remembered Sal speaking about his son, who was a musician. I never really saw him because he was always travelling with his band. That band, which was called Mercy, would later rise to legendary heights when their song, “Love Can Make You Happy” went to #2 on the pop charts. That son, James Marvell, whom I would meet for the first time on that fateful day in May, would unknowingly strike up a converstation with someone who knew and admired his father. As we stood there, sharing stories about music along with memories about Tampa, I thought to myself, this was a meeting that was destined to take place. It was fate. And I felt blessed to be a part of it. Now, well over a year after it happened, I am happy to report that Sal is still alive and well, and I feel priviledged to be introducing this tribute to Tampa, which James Marvell wrote and recorded in honor of his parents. And the best part about it…Sal’s helping him out in the song. These are the kind of I Remember Tampa moments that are priceless…I love it!!!

News You Could Trust


I remember Tampa back in the days when there were three major networks–ABC, NBC, and CBS–and viewers had very limited choices when deciding what channel they were going to watch. Usually, the decision came down to what your favorite programs were, or what movie was showing on any given day or night. That same principle applied to the morning, afternoon, and evening news, as well. Which family of newscasters did you prefer? Who were you more inclined to let into your living room. Here in Tampa, the choice was exceptionally hard to make. The 3 local stations were WLCY Channel 10 (ABC), WFLA Channel 8 (NBC), and WTVT Channel 13 (CBS). They were all equiped with popular and talented crews, and all handled the local news with optimum professionalism. But for me, Big 13 was the one I tuned into more often than not. There was Salty Sol, Andy, Roy, Hugh, Ernie, and a host of other familiar faces bringing us news, human interest stories, event listings, sports, weather, and entertainment updates on a regular basis. You could bank on the same faces, day in and day out, for years at a time, sharing their lives with you. You trusted them. You believed in the pinpoint accuracy of every word that came out of their mouths. And even though mind boggling technical advancements like remote contols and color t.v.’s were beginning to find their way into our homes, the news was still being delivered in a simple, straight forwartd, and figuratively speaking, black and white format. No tricks…no gimmicks…we relied on solid sources and they rarely proved us wrong. Those were the days: before the flood of channels and programs offering alternative points of views on non-newsworthy items invaded the airwaves; before the gossip columns that disguise themselves as newscasts started swaying viewers to their mindless mass communications chatter; and before legitimate newcasters compromised their standards of reporting to try to recapture the markets they lost to the soothesayers. Yes, those were the days, and they won’t be back again anytime soon. But if, by chance, you’d like to momentarily revisit the past, just to get a taste of how it was back then, you’re more than welcome to do so by clicking the following link to the May 17, 2012 archived episode of the Tampa Natives Show: WTVT Big 13. There are some very rare clips and photos featured in this episode. If you happen to be from the Tampa area, you will find them very intriguing. If not, it’s still fun to watch this look back at a time when you were guaranteed to be exposed to true broadcasting professionalism, familiar faces, and news you could trust.