After watching the devastation caused by bush fires ravaging the NSW east coast, local musician Neil Whittaker wanted to do something to lend a hand. He had no idea his plan to host a music event would result in a 12-hour concert that raised almost $20,000.
Having spent his life in the local music industry, it made perfect sense to Neil the best way to help was by reaching out to other musicians and putting together a benefit concert with proceeds going to his local volunteer brigade Wallarah RFS - covering areas including Catherine Hill Bay, Caves Beach, Murrays Beach, Jewells as well as other parts of Lake Macquarie.
"Since the fires began last November I felt it would be great to do something to help these awesome fire fighters," Neil said.
The result was Rock The Tavern for the Fire Fighters, an event held over 12 hours at Jewells Tavern on Saturday, 7 March featuring a stellar line-up of local talent with 14 acts including headliner Spy V Spy and local rock royalty Dv8.
"DV8 was privileged to be part of of fundraiser for the fire fighters that protect our community," frontman Greg Bryce said.
"This community spirit is what makes us stronger and more connected to each other in a positive way."
While the support and willingness of the artists to donate their time came as no surprise to Neil, it was the venue's agreement to close the pub and dedicate the entire space to ticket holders that really drove the success of the event.
"After speaking with hotelier Jeff Tomlinson about my concept he was straight on board," Neil said.
"He thought it was a great idea and was more than happy to be part of it. Everyone I approached was really supportive and I am so grateful for everyone that pitched in."
"Everyone I approached was really supportive and I am so grateful for everyone that pitched in..." - organiser Neil Whittaker
According to the venue, the event sold out with more than 600 people purchasing tickets to the concert.
"We were more than happy to support a very worthwhile cause, as we support a wide variety of local clubs and charities,"' Jewells Tavern hotelier Jeff Tomlison said.
"Our contribution included paying for the headline act, providing all PA and audio systems, security and staff for the day. Something we were happy to do."
Artists on the day included Spy V Spy, Dv8, Urban Guerillas, Witching Hour, New Black Shades, Brindle Pigs, Decades, Zodiac Moon, Club Esky, Kellie Cain, Ian Papworth, Justin Dorin, Craig Lehman and Todd Harrison.
Images by Tracey Keogh.