Sunny South is a bluegrass band playing in the Portland, Oregon region. Sunny South plays bluegrass with an emphasis on traditional style similar to Flatt and Scruggs. Sunny South started playing in the 80's with Sonny Hammond as lead singer and band leader. After Sonny passed on, the band has continued playing bluegrass and honoring Sonny. Mike and Dave are founding members of Sunny South and have added Steve Reischman, Dee Johnson and Aaron Stocek. Since then they have played at numerous bluegrass festivals, private events and live shows all over the northwest.
Mike Stahlman was one of the founding members of Sunny South in 1979, along with Sonny Hammond and Dave Elliott. His banjo style has been influenced by the playing of Earl Scruggs, Alan Munde, and other bluegrass players, and provides a strong rhythm and melodic undercurrent to the band sound. In addition to Sunny South, Mike was a member of the Sawtooth Mountain Boys, Lee Highway, The Loafers, and Mountain Honey over the years. From 1997 to 2015, Mike taught bluegrass banjo classes at Portland Community College and has taught at the American Banjo Camp in Port Orchard, Wash., the Midwest Banjo Camp in Michigan, the Grass Valley, California Bluegrass Festival camp, and at numerous festival music camps over the years. When he's not playing banjo, Mike works as a flight instructor at the Troutdale Airport near Portland.
Dave Elliott begin playing bluegrass in the early 1970's and was a founding member of Sunny South along with Mike. Playing mandolin as well as singing lead and harmony and contributing original songs including the title cut of Sunny South's first album, Old Friends. over the years Dave has played in many local bluegrass groups including The Loafers, Small Town and many others. Dave's mandolin style is influenced mostly by Bill Monroe along with Sam Bush, Jesse McReynolds and others. Many Folks Know Dave as the host of Music From the true Vine bluegrass show on KBOO radio 90.7FM the second Saturday of each month. Currently Dave volunteers at Multnomah Grange 71 where they host an ongoing live bluegrass series with local musicians.
Steve Reischman is the brother of renowned Mandolin master John Reischman. Together they formed a bluegrass band in their home town of Ukiah California. When John moved to the Bay Area to pursue his passion for Bluegrass Steve headed north to Oregon where he became a member of Good’n Country, one of Oregon’s earliest Bluegrass bands. In Eugene he and Fiddler Greg Roberts formed Still Dreaming a Mariachi style wandering duo. Their mutual love of Bluegrass lead them to performing and emceeing at Bluegrass festivals all over the Northwest. Along the way Steve became a prolific promoter of Bluegrass Music throughout the Pacific northwest including founding Zoograss at the Oregon Zoo, Bluegrass 1st Class at Chateau St Michelle and he also developed and expanded Bluegrass programming at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Steve continues his passionate interest in Bluegrass as singer and Rhythm guitarist in Sunny South.
Aaron Stocek grew up knee deep in bluegrass in New England. His father, Henry, was a performing bluegrass musician in Connecticut and played bluegrass throughout Aaron’s life. Eventually Henry passed his old D-28 down to Aaron to keep it going. Aaron played bluegrass in the 90's in Tucson, Arizona with Degrees Plato before moving to Portland in 2000. He has played with The Loafers and now Sunny South for almost 20 years. Aaron has been influenced by a lot of musicians over his career but most notably Doc Watson, Clarence White and Tony Rice.
Dee Johnson is the bass player for Sunny South. Her love of acoustical music started with contest fiddle playing for several years. Once she discovered bluegrass, she decided to try out the bass, taught herself, and hasn't looked back. Dee has played with several bands in the Pacific Northwest including The Loafers, Grapevine, Mountain Honey, and Whiskey Deaf. In addition to Sunny South, Dee also plays bass with the Fern Hill Bluegrass Band.
Sunny South has played at lot of different venues in the Portland area. They have played at music festivals as well as private parties and weddings. To find out where Sunny South is playing and stay informed please sign up for the mailing list. Also several of our tracks from their last CD are available for download on this site.