The 2018 Remix

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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.

 

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Legendary Tampeño Spreads “Marvellous” Christmas Cheer

imageThe following story I’m sharing is about Tampa music legend, James Marvell: his background and his upcoming Christmas Special:

Story by Our Generation’s Raymond Napolitano <raynap@sbcglobal.net> permission granted to re-print article-see photos

James Marvell to feature Branson in his Christmas Special

Watch “A Marvelous Christmas Special” now!

Florida: Ybor City’s own James Marvell has been spelling his name wrong all these years. He should have dropped the last ‘L” and paraded himself around as the marvel that he is. I spent a fair amount of time listening to this smooth talking musician/promoter/salesman, watching all the YouTube videos of him from across the decades, looking at the photos and clippings he has sent me and continues to send me, and have bubbled over with fermenting thoughts about this enigmatic local legend.

He doesn’t tell anyone his age, but he likes telling the story about how he was on The Mike Douglas Show with the group Mercy. You remember them don’t you, they had that iconic hit Love Can Make You Happy, the one that was in the Top 10 at the same time along with Elvis, The Beatles, Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra. Here’s how James told it: “I was on The Mike Douglas Show with Don Rickles. There I am, down in the cellar getting ready for the show, as a 19-year old kid. There’s Don Rickles and in my mind I didn’t really quite understand that he was this insult guy. So there I am and they’re fixing me up and all that and he hands me a ball with a lot of bumps on it—you gotta remember I’m a young guy—and he says: ‘Here man, this reminds me of your face.’ I’m thinking, what a downer state of mind this guy has put me in you know, but because I didn’t know any better, little did I know, he liked me.”

I get the feeling that James Marvell has spent a lifetime of people liking him, whether he was aware of it or not, throughout the various sectors of a career that went from garage bands to country music to pop stardom, then back to country music with a stint as a jewelry designer for country stars, to gospel show promoter and eventual gospel music singer and songwriter.

When Marvell gets going on a subject, he comes at you with a steady barrage of ideas. He even wrote a jingle for Our Generation Magazine, recorded it and sent the music file to myself and publisher Bryan Gilchrist. It’s that tenacious determination to keep you thinking about what he’s telling you or showing you that makes him both endearing and eternally youthful in spirit.

And why not. His father Sal, a local barber, lived to be 103, cutting hair almost to the very end. In fact, YouTube the video of Sal at 100 years old joining his son to perform James’ song Tampa, the Perfect City produced by Mike Baluja and you’ll feel the loving respect and genuine gratitude they have for family and the city they both love. Sal & Marvell even made it into Music Tampa Bay’s 96.7 FM Hall Of Fame Museum in 2016 as the first inductees ever.

James Marvell’s story starts out like many other musicians’ stories. His mother Emily got him a guitar at about age 12 and encouraged him to play. Along the way he got guitar guidance from various talented adults, then, “because I also enjoyed country music,” James would hang out at The Deep South, a honky tonk on the corner of Armenia and Rome, listening to Johnny Bare, who happened to be the uncle of country music icon Bobby Bare. By that time, James and his pal Buddy Good had grown their hair way down, as was customary for young people back in the day. They’d wear cowboy hats and whenever Bobby Bare came to visit his uncle he’d see these two long-haired cowboys and tell them how cool they looked. So James and Buddy moved up to Nashville and became country music’s first real outlaws, at least in image. While part of Mercy, they figured they’d do their own thing and went off as a duet, The Country Cavaleers managed by John Centinaro who also managed Mercy. They were out on the road with folks like Ernest Tubbs and early Hank Williams Jr, drawing young crowds with their looks while simultaneously preaching an anti-drug message. Tampa radio legend Tedd Webb recalls “Long Hair & Country didn’t sound like this until then.”

Well, you know how the music business goes. Sometimes you have to get a day job to keep yourself afloat. Somehow this marvel, Marvell, started designing jewelry. Before long it caught the attention of some of country’s greatest stars, including Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe and Willie Nelson. That took him to Branson, Missouri. Here’s another turning point story from James: “I was being blessed abundantly, selling jewelry left and right. So there I am in Branson with the Willie Nelson Ozark Theater, it’s like a 1500-seater. The Johnny Minick Family, a gospel group, they were kinda just gettin started, would drive in from Arkansas on the weekend and they’d get like 20 people. Something moved on me to try to help them with that work. I pushed and promoted and before long that created theater worship, filling the house. Branson gave me the idea that maybe that was the kind of music that was coming. I loved it so much I recorded a song around ‘93 titled, Only Christian Country. It became the theme song of the International Country Gospel Music Association.”

And it’s been pretty much gospel ever since. Go on YouTube and track down Marvell’s versions of Best Thing God Ever Made, Prophecy or any of the other gospel and country hits he’s had and your ears will thank you, as will your soul. Spend some time online with the marvelous James Marvell, a homespun gentle man with a legendary history and visions of a brilliant future.

Top stars including Branson favorites are joining James Marvell on his Christmas TV Special. Artists include The Blackwoods, Terry Wayne Sanders as Barney Fife & Grandma Beulah, Johnny Cash’s sister Joanne, Jerry Presley, Kevin Shorey, Heart To Heart, Donna Cunningham, Russ Loniello with a Dean Martin Tribute, America’s Got Talent Top five finalists Voices Of Glory are back by popular demand and others will appear on A Marvelous Christmas directed by Roy Young. Search it out in early December for a most enjoyable viewing experience.

MacFarlane Park

Tampa’s historical landmark is the home of many memorable moments, including a few generations worth of birthday parties, family picnics, political gatherings. and community festivals. Click on the title above to view its beauty, and enjoy a song written with … Continue reading

I Remember Braddock Street

Christmas in Tampa was special for many reasons, but perhaps the most memorable of them, for me, was the West Tampa tradition that revolved around a stretch of Braddock Street about two to three blocks long. Every year the residents would go all out in decorating their homes for the holidays. Many of the families within our community and throughout the surrounding communities would pile up in their cars at night, ride on down to Braddock Street, and slowly coast by the lit up homes, enjoying the magic that was created in the spirit of Christmas. Some would park, and just walk up and down the block, enjoying the Christmas carols ringing gently through the air, congregating with friends, and stopping in so that their kids could personally say hello to Santa, who would always make an appearance at some point during every evening leading through to the 25th of December. Those precious memories are engrained in the hearts of so many Tampa natives. It was a time of simple pleasures, and the Christmas lights on Braddock Street were as pure, simple, and pleasurable as anything I can remember.

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.

Tampa Pix: A Virtual Landmark

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Tampa Pix: A Virtual Landmark

Dan Perez has assembled and documented a wealth of information about the city of Tampa, and has made that information accessible through his very colorful Tampapix.com website. There you will find an endless stream of photos depicting life as it is and was in nearly every community that makes up this great city. You’ll find yourself being thoroughly captivated, entertained, and amused by the stories and pictures he’s posted. Stop by today, and browse through this amazing labor of love. It’s a virtual landmark that you’re sure to visit time and time again.

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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

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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.

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!!!