MONTVILLE, NJ - On July 27, a special music concert was held at the Montville Amphitheater, known as the Sam Jam.
There, about 100 people came to hear a variety of great musical talent, featuring pop-punk, to rock, to hip-hop, to rap. These musical artists included Big Ears Glenn, Turkish Royale, AvE, Owl Kill, Lavender Disaster and Zach Matari and the After Party.
The Sam Jam concert was held by the Samuel D.J. Cali Foundation, a non-profit organization that was formed following a great tragedy. In 2016, 19-year-old Sam Cali was driving home with a friend, but were killed in a car accident. Since then, despite this loss, his relatives and friends decided to pick up the pieces and carry on his legacy and bring a positive to the local community.
“Sam was an amazing young man,” said Mike Cali, brother of Sam, and head organizer of the Sam Jam and vice-president of the Cali Foundation. “Smart, kind, and would give you the shirt off is back. Sam was the type of person who had the personality that made you feel like you’ve been best friends for years even upon just meeting him. His support and loyalty for his friends and family was unwavering. He was a star athlete, amazing friend, and unbelievable brother. Unfortunately on June 20th, 2016, we lost Sam in a car accident. At that moment, everybody that knew Sam and even some that didn’t, came to pay respects. After that day, we knew Sam would want us to continue to help people just as he did and thus the Samuel D.J. Cali Foundation was born!”
The Cali Foundation raises money for many causes, from local athletes, scholarships to wrestlers going to college, to donating cleats to football players, to children hospitals such as St. Jude’s, to supporting war veterans, and holding toy drives at Christmas.
“Whatever type of need they are in, all we want to do is help in any way we can,” said Mike Cali. “This foundation loves giving back to the community because they’ve given us so much already and we are so grateful for it so now it’s our turn to give back. The Samuel D.J. Cali Foundation is based out of Sam’s hometown of Towaco.”
This year’s Sam Jam marks the second year that the Cali Foundation has held such an event for the community, seeking ways to raise funds and connect with people. There were even vendors set up for the Cali Foundation along with other organizations, such as the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, from Paterson, and Marra’s Gourmet Italian Deli & Catering, from Pine Brook. Not only that, the Sam Jam has become a platform to display local musical talent. Some of these musicians even knew Sam Cali and his family and felt the need to contribute to a great cause.
“This is a great event and everyone should come back next year,” said Glenn Haines, from Hopatcong, a pop-punk singer who is known by his stage name Big Ears Glenn. “The Sam Jam is a big part of my life. Sam was my best friend. We did sleepovers and were on the same wrestling team. I’ll do anything for the Cali Foundation. The Calis themselves are amazing people.”
Parsippany resident and rapper Orhun Varol, known on stage as Turkish Royale, felt the same way for the concert and the Cali Foundation.
“I love the Sam Jam, for it has that very family-loving vibe,” said Varol, who performed at the concert last year. “I feel I can just be myself. I want to contribute more and give it the following it deserves.”
And the audience members, despite the heat, stuck around to listen to the action and donate to the Cali Foundation.
“They raised a lot of money and it goes to a lot of good causes, usually to young athletes,” said Pine Brook resident Lauri Schmitt. “All the music sounds good to me and it’s a good place to showcase local talent. Everyone wishes them luck in the future.”
By its end, the Sam Jam concert collected about $700 for the Cali Foundation, and its members couldn’t be more proud.
“Personally, I absolutely love this event,” said Mike Cali. “Last year when we had it, everybody that came had a blast. People kept coming up and asking if we’re going to have this every year. The energy and good vibes and amazing people that were there showing love and support for my family, for Sam, and for the performers was outstanding. What this does for my family and for my community is that it brings it closer together. Most of my family lives in Montville and to have an event that brings everyone together was a dream come true. After all the support the community has given to us, it feels amazing to give them an event that they love.”
Montville residents Zack Kahn and Max Laurenzi perform as AvE at the Sam Jam concert this year.
Up next, the Cali Foundation intends to hold its third annual golf outing at the Montclair Golf Club in West Orange on September 23. Next year kicks off with the annual wrestling tournament, the Sam Cali Invitational and National Battle for the Belt, at West Orange High School on January 3 and 4, 2020.
To learn more about the Samuel D.J. Cali Foundation, visit their website at https://samcali.com/.
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