Nevergreen Brings Their Roc-City Reggae Blend to Canandaigua

By Kelly Sabetta

The band, Nevergreen, has been creating and playing music for more than ten years. The origin of the band includes Justin Passamonte (drummer), and Mike Ortolaza (guitar), who started playing music together since 1997. With their origins in punk rock and metal, they went on to form a few different bands throughout the years before officially forming Nevergreen in 2005.

Justin and Mike decided to bring in new band members to form the evolving group, including Sara Passamonte (lead vocals), Eric Pedersen (bass), and Dylan Emerson (guitar), who played with the founders in previous years.

Their style has been labeled, “Roc City Reggae,” which infuses progressive rock and reggae, and creates a sound that has a driving groove, dynamic riffs, and catchy vocals of both male and female band members. Their unique sound combines many different, yet complimentary, types of music, just as it does its individual personalities.

“J and I are siblings, so we’ve been ‘complimenting’ each other since we were kids,” said Sara. “He is educated in music and music business, so he is usually exploring ways to enhance our talent and the band as a unit. I enjoy performing and recording most, so I benefit from being in the moment in front of our fans. Guitarist Mike is equally passionate about art and music, and he and our other guitarist Dylan are very creative.”

Sara continued, “They are responsible for writing the riffs that become the groundwork for most of our songs. Eric, our bassist and only member from outside of Rochester is extremely committed to the reggae feel, helping drive the songs along with J in the rhythm section. We all enjoy various types of music, and we all contribute to our songs.”

Nevergreen has continued to grow and recently released their first album, “The Lightshow EP,” in 2009. Recorded at Blackdog Studios in Rochester, NY, the album includes songs, “Keeps on Rockin’,” “The Synergistic Effect,” “This Town,” and “The Lightshow.”

“People tend to ask when the next one is coming out!” said Sara. And one is currently in the works. Nevergreen’s second album, “The People to Paradise EP,” is scheduled to be released soon.

As they continue to play venues around Rochester, they are also looking forward to performing around the country and beyond. “We are booking shows in nearby cities this summer, and hope to expand nationwide in the next two years,” said Sara. They plan to continue creating and releasing more music, as well as plan a tour worldwide. “In 10 years?” she added, “Maybe touring outer-space?”

Fans can listen to and purchase their album by visiting their Web site, local stores such as Record Archive, or by coming to visit them at their live performances. As they continue to grow, Nevergreen is also interested in looking for additional members to enhance their sound.

If you’re interested in hearing more of their current sound, visit their Web site,, or check out their live performance at this year’s Canandaigua Art and Music Festival, Friday, July 16th, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on the Commons Park Stage.