UPDATE 6/26/16: The amazingly talented mandolinist and everyone's best friend Doug Young has moved to Winston Salem, NC for a promotion and new management position at Foothills Brewery. We are all really excited for him - especially since he still plans to perform regularly with S79 when his schedule allows him. For those shows that Doug is unable to attend, we have asked our great friends Scott Pearson and Mitch Meaders to fill in when they can and provide that rock solid and perfectly-timed Mandolin chop that makes that hard-driving S79 sound what it is. We look forward to this new and exciting period for S79 especially getting to make music with friends new and old.
We hope to see you out on the road - down South79 - sometime soon!
Vocalist and guitarist, Toby Hammond, has one of the finest voices in bluegrass today. A born bluegrass singer and Nashville recording artist, Toby got his start playing mandolin with his brothers throughout his childhood. Eventually he started pursuing the national bluegrass circuit and travels extensively to bluegrass festivals and conventions annually. Toby has become one of the most well-known bluegrass musicians in the country and knows almost everyone in the business. Toby has been featured on a number of recordings including several he made from his brother and Midnight Drive’s premier album recorded and produced by Randy Kohrs in Nashville, TN. Toby owns his own contracting business, Hammond Construction, and makes his home with his wife Julia in Dewittville, NY.
John McNaughton plays bass and sings bluegrass with the passion of any true bluegrass enthusiast. Raised in the Iroquoian community of the Six Nations, John has been singing bluegrass and gospel music for most of his life. He is an awarded bluegrass radio DJ and has been named best male vocalist in the Toronto music scene (of ANY genre!). John says that "bluegrass music is an important part of my life and I have been blessed to have made such great friends through it."
They say nothing makes you a better banjo player than a North Carolina birth certificate - this could not be truer for Raleigh, North Carolina born Gregg Welty. After moving to Western New York at a young age, he grew up always listening to the sounds of his father's banjo playing, Eric Welty, the 1993 National Bluegrass Banjo Champion. In true like-father-like-son fashion, Gregg has been active in not only the local Western New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio bluegrass scene, but also the national bluegrass banjo championship and competition circuit. Gregg is the 2016 Renofest (South Carolina State) Banjo Champion, 2016 Wyoming State Banjo Champion, 2015 Georgia State Champion, 2013 Indiana State Banjo Champion, 2013 Maryland State Banjo Champion, 2013 Arizona/ 4-Corner State Banjo Champion, and the 2013, 2014, & 2015 Mid-Atlantic Regional Banjo Champion. Gregg took 3rd Place in the 2014 Eastern United States Banjo Championships as well as placed in the top 5 at the National Bluegrass Banjo Championships the last four years. Gregg recently recorded a solo album entitled "Memoir," which was named amongst the top 200 Bluegrass recordings of 2015 and is for sale on our store page. Gregg is a graduate of Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA with a Bachelors in Biochemistry and is now attending Medical School at the University of Pittsburgh.
check out Gregg's website:
Hershel Blevins, our front man and MC, has been singing and playing music since his beginnings with his family band "the Blevins Bros." He was playing bass fiddle with this group as early as 10 years old and in the summer of 1982, at 12 years old, he was hired by his musical Hero, Jimmy Martin. Since then, many years passed and as family can migrate to different places and careers can impede gigs, there was a hiatus in Blevins’ musical career. But, he always felt that something was missing. In his spare time, he had taken up learning Dobro and honed his singing skills that once gave harmony vocals, becoming more of a lead singer. It was when he met Gregg in Meadville in 2011 and an immediate bond ensued with musical camaraderie that he really got the "itch" to play again. With renewed ambition after a year of meeting & jamming together, the two decided to form South 79.