Meet Gympie's 82YO, multi-award winning singer-songwriter
LOVE songs and memories go together like Lex Kunst and music awards.
The multi-award winning singer-songwriter, who performs by the name Lex K, was named 2019 National Lyricist of the Year at this year's Tamworth Country Music Festival, beating 300 songwriters from Australia and New Zealand to bring home the top gong for his eighth album Love Songs and Memories.
Inspired by people and places - many of them local - that have touched and enriched his life, the 82-year-old retired Gympie grazier reckons it's his best album so far.
"With the backing music and the production of it, it's the best of the lot," he said this week.
"It's a great honour (to win) because it's a national award, but for me, nothing changes. "Awards are nice to have on the mantelpiece, but they don't change anything."
The title track on the new album, Old Love Songs and Memories, came easily to this veteran songwriter who was listening to the radio one day when he heard an old love song he knew from his younger days.
"It brought back memories and I thought that would make a great song - love songs and memories," he said. "So I wrote it. Most of my songs are about my life's experiences.
"Track 1 (Nothing Ever Changes) is about Woolooga," he said.
"I can remember Woolooga from when I was knee-high. Nothing changes there.
"The people have changed, but the buildings are all there and the town is still the same.
"And track 9 (Ain't Much Mate I Haven't Tried) I wrote about an old guy who used to sit on a seat in town here every day.
"I used to wonder who he could be and, one day, I sat down and had a yarn with him. The song is about what he said to me."
Lex recorded Love Songs and Memories at Lindsay Waddington's Kross Kut studio at the Gold Coast.
"I've been recording with Lindsay for 11 years now - he's a brilliant guitarist," he said.
"He won Producer of the Year this year at Tamworth and has won Musician of the Year eight times."
With 96 of his songs recorded with Lindsay so far, Lex is looking forward to the release of another new album - and his 100th song - later this year.
"I've been playing all my life," he said.
"I played in bands when I was young, then when I got married it was head down and bum up raising kids."
After the death of his first wife Joy, Lex downsized his Munna Creek property, retaining just the original homestead, Sunnyside, built by his grandfather in 1900.
In 1997 he took up music again and, with his second wife Heather, started "getting fair dinkum about it".
"My first trip to Tamworth was in '99 and I've been every year since," he said.
And while the albums and awards were a long time coming for the Gympie-born singer-songwriter, once they started, they haven't stopped.
There have been numerous Tamworth song-writing awards, three north Queensland Country Music song writing and awards and, in 2015, the International Traditional Country Album of the Year award for his fourth album, Well Travelled Road.
He collected that award while performing at a six-day music festival in Iowa during a tour of the US Mid West which was, he said a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"When they rang and told me I'd won, they said there was a catch, and that was I had to go to Iowa to pick it up," he said.
On the home front, as well as performing all over the region, Lex organised concerts for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, recruiting country singing star Troy Cassar-Daley to help raise funds to keep the vital medical service in the air.
In acknowledgement of his remarkable support, the RFDS made a life member in 2009.
"Two years ago I called it quits," he said.
"Getting artists to do the concerts and everything involved got a bit much, but I raised about $40,000 for the flying doctor over the years and met a lot of fantastic people through it, so I'm happy with that."
Which doesn't mean he'll be slowing down any time soon.
And neither will wife Heather, who took up bass guitar five years ago so she could go on the road with Lex and "earn my keep".
Heather also doubles as the official photographer for his album covers.
"It's all just getting better and better," Lex said.
You can catch Lex K performing some of his award-winning songs today at the Kids Cancer Project fundraiser concert today from 3.30-8.30pm at the Gympie Bowls Club in Bowlers Drive, Southside.