Far North Queensland has been blessed with an abundance of musical talent. We have great musicians, fine songwriters, first class bands. Years ago, before I moved here, I got hold of the now very hard to get CD Music From The Far North, compiled by Jason Hagen for ABC Far North. The music I heard on that compilation convinced me — this is the place for me!
One song on that CD really stuck in my head – Ken McKay’s “Bartalumba Bay”. It’s a catchy, quirky song about a bay on the Northern Territory side of the Gulf of Carpentaria. As time went by, I got to know something of the Ken McKay story. Moved to FNQ years ago, lives on the Walsh River, had some top 40 success in the 1970s as part of McKay Stuart. And there’s the remarkable story of Ken meeting Chris Young, the brother he didn’t know he had.
The FNQ music community embraced him as one of their own from Ken’s earliest days up here, and Ken has worked with and encouraged so many established musicians and new musical talent.
On Thursday night, November 22, musicians and music lovers turned out in big numbers to honour Ken McKay, and to raise funds for his struggle with lung cancer. Entertainment Cairns proprietor Ray Elias put together a line-up that is a who’s who of FNQ music. Atherton’s historic Barron Valley Hotel was packed, and thousands of dollars were raised to help Ken meet his medical expenses.
Listen to some of the highlights of the Ken McKay benefit
Read more about Ken McKay on Tony Hillier’s blog
You can find Ken’s 70s hit song Hey Billy on Youtube
And another song Full Speed Stop
Ken’s lovely song Xmas Time Up North
Ken McKay died in the week before Xmas 2012.