Rock guitarist Lex Waterreus has been gone from Rotorua for more than 20 years, but his love of his home town will see him back to front a festival to help feed the city's homeless.
Waterreus, who plays in hit Australian band Seedy Jeezus, has organised Spoonful Festival, a concert on Sunday May 14 at Kalah Bar in Ngongotaha. It will feature his band and other top Rotorua rock bands, including local favourites Kindred.
All proceeds as well as the sale of artworks which Waterrues has done, will go to Love Soup, which helps feed the homeless in Rotorua.
Waterreus left Rotorua in 1994 but regularly returns to see family and because he "gets homesick a lot".
He said despite living in Melbourne, he stayed connected with Rotorua every day.
He was aware of the homeless problem in New Zealand and was moved by a story of "Kernel Klink", a Palmerston North gang member called Te Kai Po Ahuriri, who fed the homeless in his city.
"Then a few weeks after [reading the story] . . . I get a message on Facebook and it's Kernel Klink. So I'm thinking, 'why's this dude messaging me?' I open the message and it says 'Hey Lex, it's me Murray, long time bro'."
The penny dropped Murray was now known as Kernel Klink and his Maori name but was originally a school friend from Selwyn Primary and Western Heights High School.
"So we talk and catch up and that planted the seed. In Klink's own actions to help people, I saw it wasn't impossible to step out to help people."
He told Waterreus they had school mates who were being helped by Love Soup and a couple of others who had apparently died after living rough.
"I was so proud of his work and in that pride was inspiration."
Seedy Jeezus will be in New Zealand this month touring with Head Like a Hole and Waterreus has convinced them to get a day off to perform the Rotorua concert.
Waterreus stopped playing guitar for 10 years because of arthritis in his left hand. During that period he pursued art.
He painted portraits of musicians which led to doing album art, tour posters and merchandise for bands and festivals in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe.
"I got dragged back to the guitar as I was missing playing and worked at re-learning how to play a guitar, I found some chords painful and others okay . . . eventually I found I was able to play with not as much pain as I had."
Seedy Jeezus formed and after three bass players and five years, they've released a swag of singles, EPs, CDs, an etched vinyl and a few albums. They have toured Europe and a new album is on the way.
"I phoned up mates from bands who I used to gig with in Rotorua and they all were keen to play together for the concert. It's like an old school reunion."
He's that passionate about the cause and Rotorua, he's already hatching plans to make the concert an annual event.
The concert has sponsorship from Rockshop Rotorua, Super Dooper printing, CDG Design, Lockwood and McLeod's Booksellers.
The posters, which have been made and printed with support of sponsors, will sell for a minimum of $5 at the concert. They are also on sale now at McLeod's.
Love Soup founder Gina Peiffer said she was grateful to Waterreus and the bands that were donating their time.
"We are hoping the Spoonful concert will help the community to enjoy the spirit of the concert and come together in support of our homeless and rough sleepers."
WHAT: Spoonful Festival featuring Australian band Seedy Jeesuz, Kindred, 50 Daze and Contraband.
WHEN: Sunday May 14, 2pm-8pm
WHERE: Kalah Bar, Hall Rd, Ngongotaha
WHY: Proceeds to benefit Love Soup in Rotorua to help feed the homeless
COST: $10 presale from the Rock Shop or phone Bede 027 2688 487.