South 79 To Perform Sunday

South 79

CASSADAGA — People can expect to hear music on every aspect of life Sunday.

The Cassadaga Lakes Concert Series will host the bluegrass band, South 79. Based out of Ohio, the band plays traditional bluegrass. However South 79 also utilizes

a blend of original, contemporary, country and bluegrass music.

The performance will take place at the floating stage at Cassadaga Beach on Park Avenue from 5 to 7 p.m.

South 79 has been performing for nearly six years.

The band’s guitarist Toby Hammond is originally from Dewittville and employs only the base elements of Bluegrass in his music. The included instruments are guitars, double bass, dobros and banjos.

“The only thing I listen to and know is bluegrass, unless it is very traditional country.” Hammond said. “I am not crazy about bluegrass with drums or electric instruments. Some of the more modern people (bluegrass musicians) are trying to put electric guitars and such in bluegrass but that’s not what I like.”

Originally he was South 79’s mandolin player. Hammond is currently a Nashville recording artist who also tries to fill in for other bands as needed. He will not play any other genre of music.

“It (bluegrass) is the kind of music that brings you back to your home town routes,” Hammond said. “It’s just good really family friendly music. It’s music about every aspect of life.”

To Hammond bluegrass means family, religion and relationships. However, from an audiological point of view, bluegrasss means one thing for him.

“My main thing with bluegrass is acoustics,” Hammond said. “It’s all microphone. Nothing is plugged in.”

Hammond also said that the band will occasionally play covers of country music in traditional bluegrass style.

He credited his interest in the bluegrass genre to his parents who used to take him to various bluegrass festivals in the Southeastern United States.

“We went to see some bands down in Virginia and I got hooked on it,” Hammond said. “Since I was a kid, I learned to play. The Johnson Mountain Boys got me started inspirationally.”

Hammond also cited Doyle Lawson, Ricky Skaggs, Jimmy Martin, and Quick Silver as inspirations during his developing years as a musician.

When asked to cite traditional country artists he sees as inspirations, Hammond mentioned Buck Owens, Hank Williams, George Jones, Merle Haggard and Keith Whitley. He especially enjoys Whitley.

Hammond also said his interest in bluegrass is unique as he is the only person who actively pursues it musically in his family. This is in spite of the fact that many of his family members have been known to listen to it.

“There is nobody else in my family who plays bluegrass. Everybody in my family has always listened to it and always loved it,” Hammond said. “From my parents and my grandparents.”

He especially credits his family for his interest in traditional bluegrass. This influence has also shaped his performances.

“Not anything modern (performed) I try to keep it to the roots of bluegrass,” Hammond said.

When asked what type of instrument he uses, Hammond said he only uses an acoustic guitar.

“I usually play a Martin D-18,” he said. “It’s a six string acoustic.”

Hammond also enjoys that younger performers are currently adapting traditional bluegrass.

“Some of the people carrying on the traditional sound now would be Junior Sisk, and Earls of Liecester,” he said.

Other members of South 79 include bass player John McNaughton from Six Nations, Ontario, mandolin/fiddle player Scott Pearson from Warren, Pa., banjo player Mitch Meanders from Cortland, Ohio and dobro player Hershel Blevins from Ashtabula, Ohio.

Hammond credits himself has being as being the main songwriter for the group. He also is a founding member

When deciding on songs for a set, the members generally select from a certain list. However, the outcome is normally determined by the energy of an audience.

“It depends, sometimes we will raise the floor at shows. If somebody comes up and asks us if we know or heard a song we’ll work a song before we go up and play it,” Hammond said. “Depending on what kind of set and what kind of show we’re playing we decide if we go faster or slower ones or more of the same stuff. Every venue or set we try to change up.”

He also said that the band will change the speed in the middle of a set. This is only done if a set is deemed to be too slow.

“It’s done to get people back into it,” Hammond said.

Hammond said that participants at the concert are in for a treat.

“Look for high energy bluegrass,” he said. “If you like hearing banjo, mandolin, fiddle, etc. and just toe tapping music they’ll like it.”

People can arrive by boat or bring a chair and blanket. Picnic dinners are welcome at the event. The Citizens for a Better Cassadaga will also be serving food and drinks. The concert is sponsored by the a grant from the Tri-County Arts Council and the Blue Oar Guesthouse.

In the event of inclement weather, the concert will be held at the American Legion Post 1280 at 228 Maple Ave. or the Community Building at 22 Mill St.