Making music in the region

ACROSS THE REGION: David Whitehead performs with Off The Cuff in Julia Creek recently to celebrate the shire hall’s upgrades. Photo: Chris Burns. MUSICIAN David Whitehead, 46, has a soft spot for cancer fundraising and events. His gig list expands, especially as his company Outback Music Entertainmentventures into the gulf,yet he finds time to perform for Mount Isa Cancer House’s upcoming open day for free.
Nanjing Night Net

A common theme occurs in Mr Whitehead’s reasons for the decisions he has made in his life. Family is his motivation, especially in supporting his parents Ray and Rita. The reason for his contributions to local cancer awareness is no exception. His brother Kevin fell to cancer last February after a medical battle lasting more than two years.

SETTING THE FESTIVE SPIRIT: David Whitehead performs for the Mount Isa City Council’s Christmas seniors’ luncheon.

The Whitehead brothers were into music, and Mr Whitehead recalls the time they spent together at the Byron Bay Bluesfest. Kevin also suggested songs that his brother’s band Off The Cuff could play. Mr Whitehead plays keyboard and vocals for Off The Cuff, a band of up to six musicians, a familiar presence at many functions including the Mount Isa Music Shack. The band hasalso performed at council functions, night markets, pubs, rodeos, open days, private weddings in the bush, and at private parties.

ALL SMILES: David Whitehead specialises in vocals and keyboarding. He owns Outback Music Entertainment. Photo: Facebook.

Mr Whitehead, who is Mount Isan born and bred, studied music while attending Kalkadoon State High School. But he gave it up in Year 10 after deciding to focus on regular academic studies instead of attending the Conservatorium of Music. He stopped with the musicuntil five years ago when his friends gave him a “kick up the bum” and made him perform a few songs at the Shack.

He went to the University of Queensland and studied three majors in a biology degree. His majors were environmental science, animal and plant biology, and micro and molecular biology. Mr Whitehead was funded by his parents, who struggled financially, so he returned to Mount Isa, accepted ajob at the mines, and completed the degree externally.

Mr Whitehead was returning to his musical origins when his parents developed health issues two years ago. He accepted a timely retrenchment package from the mines after 22 years while involved in the company’s emissions and monitoring network. “I thought if I was going to make the move, now is the time,” Mr Whitehead said. He became his mother’s carer and formed his music business.

The trick was to actively seek out functions and events to cover across the region.

“You can’t sit back and hope the businesses come to you,” he said. “Once they know you are half decent they end up getting you back.” Off The Cuff was formed, when several members of the Bandana jazz band had a jam session. “That’s wherethe name Off The Cuff comes from…we didn’t plan it,” Mr Whitehead said.

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