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Community Saves Davis’ Only Music Store

A plea for help is answered in Davis.

By: Edward Bennett for The Dirt

Watermelon Music has been a Davis institution stretching back through my childhood. Founded in 1996, Jeff Simons has been inspiring musicality among students and adults alike for a quarter-century.

In April, Jeff reached out to the broader Davis community with a GoFundMe request for $104,000 to help recoup sustained losses over these last few COVID-y years. Debt that could have closed Watermelon’s doors for good. At the time of this writing, Simons has paused the site, with 888 donations totaling $104,160.

“I will never forget the generosity and kindness that this community showed toward me and my store during this difficult time,” Jeff wrote on the page. “It has affirmed and restored my belief in community-based, independent businesses.”

Of course Davis showed up; I would be appalled by any other outcome. Watermelon Music has a tight kinship with the various music programs inside the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD). There is simply no other music store in town, so Watermelon’s role is directly linked to the success of every single student music program.

But Jeff isn’t the only person who works at Watermelon, and comments on the GoFundMe page are a testament to the historic centrality of this music store and its role in the lives of young and old alike.

Music is a rough business, and we collectively owe this crew our hearts and our local dollars for enduring this long against frustrating odds in a town with few rent controls to stave off inflation.

Recently, the store has opened its Melon Ball performance space which hosts everything from piano recitals to live music shows. People old enough to remember the Palm’s Playhouse should follow The Dirt’s calendar for upcoming Melon Ball performances. Catch Ismay with Misner & Smith there on May 5, Lara Downes on May 10 and celebrate World Fiddle Day on May 20 with Bob Wren.

Lastly, if you haven’t seen their new inventory of vintage instruments, you’re in for a real treat. All manner of rare instruments, one-off pedals, and modified amps are in need of their forever homes. If you have a hankering for a dobro or an itch that can only be scratched by a tuba, now is the time to be a blowhard.

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