Now serving as Performer Coordinator and Co-Director for CelticFest Mississippi, Steven Payne has been active in the Celtic music and arts scene since the 80s as enthusiast, performer, and promoter. He was an organizer of the Celtic Society of the Monterey Bay from its founding in 1989, he was active with Augusta Heritage Center Irish Week from 1991 through 1996, and he has been active (as performer and administrator) with CelticFest Mississippi since he relocated south in 1999.
As per occupation, Steven is a retired oceanographer, having worked for US Navy 35 years as research scientist, with the last 15 years at the Stennis Space Center with the Naval Research Laboratory and the Naval Meteorology and Oceanographer Command. In his final position there, he served as Deputy Technical Director for Ocean Modeling and Prediction, as technical advisor to the Commander of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, and as Navy lead for coordination with NOAA, NASA, and UCAR on ocean and atmospheric modeling and prediction.
His retirement from oceanography has allowed him to devote considerably more time and energy to his volunteer efforts in the folk music world—beyond CelticFest Mississippi, Steven also performs volunteer work with the Celtic Bayou Festival in Lafayette, LA, with Le Grand Hoorah Festival in Ville Platte, LA, with the North East Louisiana Celtic Festival in West Monroe, LA, and with the O’Flaherty Retreat in Waxahachie, TX. He also actively coordinates and promotes house concerts and other music and dance events by Celtic performers who visit the southern region.
Steven is himself a fine musician—an aficionado of the Irish whistle (particularly the low whistle) and also plays a mean blues harp. A frequent traveler, he’s a fixture at Irish tune sessions across the US.