Manny Kool is the manager of Daddy Kool Records in downtown St. Petersburg. If you’re wondering how married to the business he is, you need only know his real name: Manny Matalon. Years ago he stopped using his surname in exchange for the store’s name. He calls it his “nom de guerre.”
Kool, 45, has worked at the cult record mecca for 15 years. Much like the store, which originally opened in Bradenton in 1985, Kool has been the lifeblood of Central Avenue. In 1999 Central wasn’t the hot spot it is today.
A Tampa native, he grew up listening to The Jackson 5, Kiss and The Rolling Stones. He watched Soul Train, MTV and the MTV knock-off Friday Night Videos. His favorite record was (and still is) Sly and the Family Stone’s Greatest Hits, which he swiped from his parents' collection when he was a kid.
In 1995, he joined the crew at No Clubs Productions, a live music production company that owns Daddy Kool Records. In 2010, he and a small group of local music lovers and concert promoters helped conceive the Antiwarpt Music Festival, an indie alternative to the Vans Warped Tour.
You can catch Kool, who lives in South St. Pete, riding to and from work every day on his Origin-8 Cutler bike.
Favorite open-air market: Deuces Live Sunday Market. “It’s like the Saturday Morning Market for South St. Pete. It’s got a real old school ’70s funk vibe. They’ve got a DJ, which is pretty awesome, and some amazing sweets. The standard is sweet potato pie and red velvet cake, but I’m into these graham cracker cookies and brownie bars. I bought sweets for the week and ate them all in a day and a half.”
Favorite worn-in waterhole: Emerald Bar. “It’s older than I am –– and I’m old. Sometimes they have live music. Sometimes it’s just a DJ or a jukebox. It’s a dive. It’s smoky and the drinks are strong and reasonably priced.”
Favorite secret live music hideout: The back of Mandarin Hide. “When you’re in the back you don’t have to feel bad about talking to your friends during the concert.”
Favorite bike route: Central Avenue from downtown St. Pete to Treasure Island. “There are not a lot of straight shots through St. Pete, although I will say riding along Central to the beach ain’t so bad.”
Favorite place to Zen out: Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. “You don’t feel like you’re in the city at all. It reminds me of what this area was like growing up as a kid. There used to be a lot more places to see trees and birds.”
Favorite place to hang with tourists: Treasure Island. “Knee deep in the water with a drink in your hand and your toes in the sand. You know that Van Halen song?”
Favorite reason to cross Tampa Bay: New World Brewery. “It’s a unique setting and it’s small, outdoors and books talented artists.”
Favorite beach bar: The hotel bar at Thunderbird Beach Resort. “It’s definitely a hole in the wall, but you can walk with your drink right onto the beach.”
Favorite reason to jump for joy: Catching a live performance by Holiday. “Ricky Seelbach is a one-man (electronic/punk) band. He’s freaking amazing. The last time I saw him was at The Bends more than six months ago. He plays so seldom that if you get the chance to see him it’s a rare treat.”
Favorite art venue: The Venture Compound. “I think it’s a very cutting-edge place for experimental music. It’s so unassuming and free. You’ve gotta give those guys props for being so pioneering.”
Favorite Daddy Kool Records customer: Tampa Bay Times pop music critic Sean Daly. “He is our biggest fan. He also hosts a Saturday morning local interest segment on ABC Action News.”
Favorite happy hour: Aboard the Yacht StarShip Cruise. “It’s a party cruise out of Channelside. It’s like a two-hour cruise that goes out into the bay and back. They have two boats: the food boat and the party boat. Of course I like the party boat. They do different themes once a month, like rock night or salsa night.”
Favorite feel-good elixir: The Galaxie 500 at Squeeze Juice Works. “It’s just delicious. I don’t know where else I can get this kind of stuff. It’s awesome.”
Favorite used record to recently hit the racks at Daddy Kool: “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by 13th Floor Elevators. “It’s a pretty righteous gem.”
Favorite place to get spoiled: Star Booty. “I have been a customer there forever. I recently started shaving my own head, but I still make visits to the salon to get it shaved when I want the pampering treatment.”