South 79

The Premier Bluegrass Band in Western

New York, Pennsylvania, and Northern Ohio

About Us

Our Story

South 79 is the culmination of many years of work and expertise all coming together into one project. From competition musicians, to strict traditional bluegrass musicians, the people involved in this band have come together and make a sound that is unlike other bluegrass bands. It has the hard train-like drive that you want in a bluegrass band that also certainly does not lack in the vocal department, a common phenomenon with bands of exceptional instrumentalists. The singing and roaring harmonies are what make South 79 a premiere force to be reckoned with in the Northeastern region bluegrass communities. 

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Meet The Band

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. 

Toby Hammond


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


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."

Meet The Band

Gregg Welty

"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 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 quickly became well-known within the local Western New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio bluegrass scenes. He eventually began competing in national bluegrass banjo contests. Gregg holds more distinct state banjo championship titles than any other banjo player.

Gregg held the banjo-position for Gold Heart and Big Leg Emma in 2013/2014, played banjo full-time for The Allegheny Drifters for the 2014-2015 season, and spent the latter half of 2017 touring with Blue Mafia. Gregg continues to travel and tour professionally- working as a fill-in for numerous professional bands, as well as with South 79! He appears on numerous recordings as a guest artist, and records and produces recordings out of his Pittsburgh, PA based recording studio. 


 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.  

South 79

Live At The Coleman Station Bluegrass Festival

Gregg Welty's Memoir

2015 Airplay Direct top 50 bluegrass albums of 2015 

Bluegrass Today weekly airplay list top 20

Top 200 Best Bluegrass Albums of 2015. 

To purchase CD, select below or for digital downloads visit or wherever you buy your music! 

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Book South 79!


(NOTE to interested booking parties: our online schedule is not complete - private events not open to the public are often not included on our website schedule)


Contact Gregg Welty for a quote!

(716) 581-2951 [email preferred]

More info on Services provided:

Private events - Always wanted that authentic barn wedding? Or a rustic appalachian mountain ambiance to your family reunion to compliment your toothless Uncle Joe - We can handle it.  We have done backyard private parties, family reunions, graduation parties, birthday parties of all ages, corporate events, weddings, and ... Well, Hershel has done plenty of other things we aren't proud of... 

NOTE: we have a full sound/ PA system available to provide for your event needs (speeches, background music between, before, or after sets, and of course, for the live music)

Our banjo player, Gregg, is also available to provide additional DJ services(bluegrass and not) to suit your event needs. 

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Bluegrass festivals - seasoned bluegrass professionals reliably provide family-friendly and memorable entertainment to your festival audience, sure to be a festival favorite. 

(NOTE: We have and are willing to provide festival references.)

Restaurant/ Bar- Want banjo music to cater to your bearded, flannel-wearing, craft-beer drinking regulars? Look no further. We can do that too.

​Bluegrass Lessons - Always wanted to learn the art of twang? about from a 10-State Bluegrass Banjo Champion?  Friendly and professional 5-string banjo, guitar, mandolin, and bluegrass upright bass lessons available via Skype or in person at competitive hourly rates. 

Want something from us thats not mentioned above? Try Us!

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