Berowra resident and one of Australia’s favourite country musicians, Steve Passfield, is hard at work on a new album – and it promises to be a treat. Called “Freshly Picked”, the album will feature up to 16 instrumentals showcasing Steve’s flatpicking across a range of styles and instruments.
“It’s got Celtic medleys, fingerstyle jazz, swing, Latin and bluegrass tunes and I play acoustic, Maccaferri and electric guitars, papoose, mandolin, banjo and ukulele,” says Steve. ”I’ve wanted to do an instrumental album for a while: it’s a great challenge for my playing.”
Does the focus on instrumentals – one of which will be a new self-penned track – mean that Steve is aiming to repeat the success he had in 2008, when he won the Golden Guitar Award at the Tamworth Country Music Festival for the instrumental Stump Jumpin’ from his Goin’ It Alone album?
“I might get a nomination – if I’m lucky,” says Steve, modest as always.
Backing musicians on the album are the same as those that supported Steve to the delight of crowds at this year’s Tamworth festival – Rudy Miranda on drums and percussion (Mal Eastick, The McClymonts), Michael Kerin on fiddle (The Flying Emus, Travelling Country Band) and Ian Lees on bass (Moving Pictures, James Blundell, Lee Kernaghan).
“We’ve done lots of gigs together and have a great rapport happening, and that’s been really good for the album,” says Steve.
When will the album be ready?
“When I get it finished!” says Steve, laughing. “Hopefully by the spring – when things are best freshly picked!”
Until a year or two ago, one of the highlights of eating at Hornsby’s excellent Blu Water Grill was the opportunity to listen to waiter Matthew Henrick sing arias between serving courses. No “singing waiter” he, but a trained opera singer who – like many artists – works a normal job to supplement his income from doing what he loves (incidentally, he’s no slouch as a waiter, either, having won an award for his skills in that department).
Although he’s moved on from BWG and doesn’t sing at the Crow’s Nest restaurant that currently employs him, he still lives in the Hornsby area and, of course, is still passionate about singing. Matthew’s many local fans will soon be able to hear him again in magnificent form, singing an original musical setting for Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 composed by Berowra Heights resident and Universal Stranger agent provocateur Roger “Rody” Hogan.
The project – supported by local musicians The Cove Quartet, with string arrangement by Beecroft-based Dawn Nettheim – coincides with Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary on April 23. We’ll let you know when the video gets posted to YouTube.