At This Hemet Music Store, Community Matters Most – Press Enterprise

Julio Guez says music saved his life and as co-owner of the Harvard Street Music Exchange, he hopes to give others the opportunity to find the same salvation.

“As a young man growing up, dealing with grief and depression, etc., music guided me,” he said. “I believe in the power of music to heal and bring people together and also think it’s a powerful tool for dealing with anxiety, stress and depression.”

Guez said being able to express himself through music has also helped him find a sense of community with others doing the same. His motivation to create more than just a store came from his personal experience as a music lover and songwriter and amateur musician. He started playing trumpet at Whittier Elementary School, before moving to Hemet from LA

  • Julio Guez, left, watches the audience reaction to musician Arys’ Stone during his performance at the Kulturevation IV Music & Arts Festival at Harvard Street Music Exchange in downtown Hemet on September 28. (Photo by Diane A. Rhodes, Contributing Photographer)

  • Julio Guez, co-owner of Harvard Street Music Exchange in Hemet, interacts with the public during the Kulturevation IV music and arts festival he hosted on September 28. (Photo by Diane A. Rhodes, Contributing Photographer)

“I always knew we had to be more than a place where people could buy things – Amazon is better than anyone at it,” said Guez, 34. “We also encourage our employees not to sell items but to sell an experience. That’s why we always have free coffee, tea and water. We want to be the second home or a second home for all our local musicians and music lovers.”

Guez started a band with friends while in high school and had a few bands in college. After graduating he decided he wanted to learn more about songwriting and moved to Nashville, but eventually returned to Hemet and since 2012 has been hosting concerts and music events.

Harvard Street Music Exchange is a continuation of Alaythia Music, which was opened in 2008. Guez started working at this store as a part-time employee in 2015 and soon took over running the business. After Trent Thompson, owner of Alaythia Music, acquired the current historic building in downtown Hemet, the store was renamed.

Guez said Harvard Street Music Exchange opened in March 2016 with 10 guitars and $500 in the store’s bank account. He became co-owner of the store two years ago.

“We needed to be a music store with a heartbeat and create not just a business but a music community and one way to do that is through our live events,” he said. “I want to give people the opportunity to show everyone what they have and the chance to find the beauty of their own creativity.”

Arys’ Stone was one of the musicians at the store’s Kulturevation IV Music & Arts festival on September 28. The San Jacinto resident is a singer-songwriter who seeks to inspire and inspire people through his music – singing and writing from his heart.

“I met Julio when I moved here about five years ago,” Stone, 36, said. “I’m always looking for places to play and there are always plenty of opportunities for me to come and do my thing.”

Stone started playing guitar at age 11 and writing his own songs at age 13. He entertained the audience with an acoustic alternative folk ensemble which was well received.

“I believe in the power of live music to bring people together and create positivity,” Guez said. “We live in such a divided world and it makes me really sad to see this state of affairs. I know I can’t fix the world, but I’m trying to do my part to make my community better.

Upcoming free live events for all ages include a Halloween show on October 31, a voter registration drive and concert on November 17, and a Super Saturday Music Show on December 7 at 134 S. Harvard St. in Hemet.

Information: 951-925-6200 or www.harvardstreetmusicexchange.com

Alice P. Darby