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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Happy 20th Anniversary, Watermelon Music!


Downtown music store to host live jazz ensemble performances

Friday, April 29, is the 20th anniversary of a beloved music store in Downtown Davis — Watermelon Music — as well as the birthday of the famous jazz musician Duke Ellington. To celebrate their 20th anniversary (and Duke Ellington’s birthday), Watermelon Music will host live, in-store jazz ensemble performances by local groups. I talked to one of the owners of the store, Jeff Simons, about the event.


Q: What exactly will be happening at the event?

A: Beginning at about 5:30 p.m., three local jazz ensembles will perform the music of Duke Ellington. The ensembles feature players as young as 11 or 12, and as old as 50-something.  April 29 is National Duke Ellington Day, and the performer/composer’s birthday, and we’re just looking to have some fun and share his music with the public.  


Q: Which groups will be performing?

A: Celia Cottle is a long-time Davis educator who puts together groups of young musicians and teaches them to play jazz.  These are usually the kids who later win awards in Jazz Performance at the regional and state (sometimes national) level.  She has a group of junior high and high schoolers called “Jazzamatazz.”  They will be kicking of the show at about 5:30 p.m. Celia has another group called “J Street Jazz Cats” that will be performing [as well]. Michael O’Hearn leads a group of mostly [UC Davis] students called the New Harmony Jazz Ensemble.  I heard them perform a few times at the E Street Plaza downtown and when I told him about the event he was excited to participate as well.


Q: What can people coming to the event expect?

A: If they like big-band jazz and the music of Duke Ellington, they will have a great time.  It’s rare to get to see big band music performed live anymore, especially for free in a public setting.  We’re hoping this will get some younger players excited to begin playing in an ensemble.  The setting will be very casual and informal, with opportunities to ask questions and rub elbows with the performers.


Q: Why is it important to you that local groups are involved?

A: We are a local, community-vested business and believe strongly in promoting and supporting the local culture.  There is so much talent here that few people get an opportunity to hear and we want to make sure these performers get an appreciative audience. For us, it’s all about local.

If you’re interested in big-band jazz music, Duke Ellington, Watermelon Music, or all of the above, head down to Watermelon Music on April 29. Watermelon Music is located at 207 E. St. in Downtown Davis and the event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. For more information, check out the event page on Facebook.


WRITTEN BY: Sofie Bates — arts@theaggie.org


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