By GEOFF FOX
APOLLO BEACH – There was a multi-colored, psychedelic-looking upright piano on one side of The Vibe Music Store’s front door. On the other side were a pair of electric guitars, both custom-painted to look like instruments straight out of the 1960s.
Doti Devane and husband, Terry, longtime Tampa Bay area musicians who often perform as Kozmic Pearl – a band that plays classic rock, blues, rhythm and blues, and funk – recognized the need for a quality music store and opened The Vibe four years ago. A Tampa native, Doti also operates Arianna’s Design Center next door.
“At first, (The Vibe) was just a big consignment store and I started bringing in instruments, but I just put them anywhere,” Doti said. “But people liked it, it had a vibe to it, kind of ‘hippyish.’ Once Terry got more involved with the music store, he wanted it to be more organized, so you didn’t have to step over a couch to get to a Gibson” guitar.
The Vibe is located at 6136 U.S. N. 41 in the plaza once anchored by a Winn-Dixie. The 1,900-square-foot space includes walled-off rooms in the back for music lessons. Local art, including a portrait of Jimi Hendrix made of coffee grounds, lines the walls.
The Devanes have been married 27 years (“plus five with the wind chill,” Terry often says). They met through mutual friends at a blues show in Ybor City and immediately hit it off.
“At first, she kind of wanted (The Vibe) to be like a coffee shop,” Terry said. “But really, the community didn’t have a good music store. Back in the day, we used to just go hang out at music stores on the weekend, and I think” The Vibe fills that local void.
A career electrical contractor and entrepreneur who learned merchandising when he was opening Army-Navy stores in Tampa and Brandon, Terry is an accomplished guitarist who has been playing since the early 1970s.
“I’ve always wanted a band with some kind of recognition and to just be known as having a good band,” he said. “I think we’ve done that with Kozmic Pearl.”
The band has played around the Tampa Bay area for decades, but mostly plays locally nowadays.
On a recent weekday, Mark D’Angelo, a part-time worker at The Vibe, grabbed a three-string cigar-box guitar off the wall and the type of fret slide usually used by lap-steel guitar players. Picking with two fingers, he moved the slide up and down the neck, producing the kind of old-time blues sounds commonly heard on WMNF, 88.5 FM.
D’Angelo, who met the Devanes while playing local shows, has worked at the store since January. He mostly serves customers and teaches guitar lessons. The store also offers lessons for piano, violin, viola, bass, ukulele and voice, among others.
Every Tuesday night, the store hosts a jam session attended by five to 20 musicians.
“It’s entirely hit or miss,” D’Angelo said of the Tuesday crowd. “A couple weeks ago, we had 20 people – last week, there were five. The last Tuesday of the month is acoustic, the rest is electric.
“The cool thing about the acoustic night is that if you’re not that good, you can just kind of listen for a while. Then someone will say, ‘We’re going G to C to A minor to D (chords).’ Honestly, I think that’s the best way to learn.”
Besides the jams and lessons, the store rents instruments – trumpets, trombones, violins, violas, flutes and saxophones – to local music students.
“There’s no judgments here,” Doti said. “We’re here for the kids. When they’re waiting for their lessons, they can mess around on the drums or pick up a guitar or ukulele. We don’t want this to be a big music store where (a customer) comes in and they’re intimidated. It’s more of a mom-and-pop, and that’s how we’re going to stay.”
For information about The Vibe, call (813) 641-2016 or visit The Vibe Music Store on Facebook. For information about Kozmic Pearl, call Doti Devane at (813) 625-0697, Terry Devane at (813) 478-5751 or visit kozmicpearlband.com.