Jeff Simon, one of the most recognizable faces and voices in Maine's country music community, has died.

If you've spent any amount of time listening to live local country music, you most likely have heard Jeff Simon and the Mainely Country Band. While most local musicians have jumped from band to band, changed band names, or quit the business altogether, Jeff was always true to the band he founded decades ago. His bandmates changed, over the years, but Jeff was always there, in his signature western shirt and black cowboy hat.

On Wednesday, November 3rd, I learned that Jeff had passed away, due to health issues. Jim Fraser, President of the Central Maine Country Music Association posted on Facebook that, out of an abundance of caution for the safety of all involved, all jams, parties, meetings, and Christmas parties are canceled until January 31st. The group will meet, at that point, to decide how to proceed.

I'm still reeling, thinking about Jeff and his music, and the void his passing has left behind. Many of us first saw Jeff's smiling teenage face many, many years ago when he played in the backup band for the very popular Stacey's Country Jamboree. I can still see that little grin he would get when the band was trying to keep up with a tempo-challenged singer. He was always professional, even when the performance was making everyone else double over in laughter.

It was probably 20 years ago when my then-husband played drums in Mainely Country, for a while. We spent many hours with Jeff, and I was always impressed with his generous nature and quiet sense of humor. He loved country music more than anyone I'd ever met, and really enjoyed performing in front of others. Jeff had a huge smile, a big heart, and always stepped up to help out with a charity event. I know none of us will ever forget him or his voice.

Rest in peace, Jeff Simon. We'll miss you.

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