Head to North Haven eatery Oasis by the River for some down home country and bluegrass music

Multi-genre: Sydney based entertainer Steve Passfield plays bluegrass, Celtic music, country, and didgeridoo. Catch him at Oasis By The River, November 30, from 2pm.
Multi-genre: Sydney based entertainer Steve Passfield plays bluegrass, Celtic music, country, and didgeridoo. Catch him at Oasis By The River, November 30, from 2pm.

Few "Aussie" entertainers can trace their heritage to the First Fleet. In fact, we claim many of them as ours, even though they were born elsewhere - The Bee Gees (English), John Farnham (English), Mel Gibson (American), Keith Urban (New Zealander), Russell Crowe (New Zealander).

Steve Passfield not only has First Fleet heritage, and a "good splash of the Irish" from his nan Flanagan, as he puts it, but his family are true blue farmers from Bellangry, about 40 kilometres up the Oxley Highway from Port Macquarie.

His roots are deep on the Mid-North Coast. His grandfather worked at a steam-driven saw mill at Bellangry for "cedar kings" Bill Haydon and Jack Dunn. Music is also part of his DNA. "My nan played the fiddle and dad played accordion and harmonica. My sisters and I learnt piano from the nuns at Kempsey.

He started learning guitar as a teenager but had to get a "real" job and wound up as a health and building inspector at Kempsey Shire Council.

After moving to Sydney about age 22, he was lucky enough to learn guitar from Phil and Tommy Emmanuel. He started writing his own music and joined The Handpicked Band. "We won some national band competitions and I wrote songs for us, more of a bluegrass sound. I recorded three albums with them."

In 2008, Passfield worked on a solo album produced by Rod McCormack. "I won a Golden Guitar for the instrumental off that album." At 43 years of age at that time, he might be considered a late bloomer. "It takes 20 years to be an overnight success," he quips.

That was the first of many awards racked up by this multi-genre entertainer - Canberra Songwriting Awards winner in five categories 2011, AICMA Brumby Award for vocal collaboration, and this year, a Frank Ifield International Spur Award.

His "day" job is as the Sydney manager of a national building certification company. But his passion for music also led to him building a studio space in what was and old Presbyterian church hall on his land in the leafy northern Sydney suburb of Berowra.

"I recorded an album [Lil' Gypsy] with Kathryn Jones there, for which I won Celtic producer of the year 2016. Our duet Even Cowgirls Sing the Blues [on the album] got to No.4 on the country charts."

Passfield's strong family ties led to him dropping into Oasis by the River when he visited his sister who lives in Kempsey. Owner Brendon Lynch and he discovered they had a mutual acquaintance. "He's been asking me to perform there ever since, and it's taken this long to work it out."

It will be his first time performing in the Camden Haven, but he was at the Macksville Music Muster earlier this year and tries to get back to Kempsey as often as he can.

Passfield will perform from 2pm until 5pm. On that evening, there is also a Beers & Cheers event with special guest Mark Geyer. Tickets are $35 per person which includes finger food plus two Coopers middies. Music is from Dave Stephens. The eatery will also put on a bus pickup and return from $10 per person from Lake Cathie to Kendall, depending on bookings.

This story Aussie award winner an afternoon delight first appeared on Port Macquarie News.

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