The Neal Casal Music Foundation (NCMF) continued its mission of donating musical instruments to students with a gift of guitars, amplifiers, a keyboard and other accessories to Morris Knolls High School in Rockaway, NJ where the late musician graduated in the class of 1987. The gear presented to Morris Knolls was purchased by NCMF through funds raised from outreach to Casal's extensive fanbase, as well as, the foundation's arrangement of a donation from iconic instrument manufacturer, Fender Guitars. Casal's longtime manager and friend Gary Waldman who serves as the NCMF executive director along with NCMF board member Willa Scantlebury and staff member Mark Seibel visited the school on April 29 to personally present the instruments to students and faculty.
"Neal loved his days as a young rocker at Morris Knolls High School back in the big-hair '80s," says Waldman. "I think he would be thrilled that we’ve been able to give other young musicians some great instruments to play in his honor."
Casal who Rolling Stone called "an influential and in-demand guitarist who worked with Willie Nelson, Shooter Jennings and more" was passionate during his lifetime about sharing his love of music with others. He was frequently found spending time chatting with his fans after performances at music venues around the world. A prolific singer-songwriter in his own right, releasing numerous solo albums and founding the group Circles Around the Sun, Casal was introduced to music as a child, but by his own omission became enthralled with playing guitar in his high school years.
The Neal Casal Music Foundation (NCMF) is a 501c3 non-profit formed in 2020 following Casal's passing the year prior on August 26, 2019. Its mission is to provide music instruments and lessons to students in New Jersey and New York state schools where Neal was born and raised, as well as, to make donations to much needed mental health organizations that support musicians in need. By celebrating Casal's legacy and the vast catalog of music he left behind, NCMF raises funding in his memory to achieve its goals. Highlights thus far, include a donation of over $25,000 to MusiCares from tickets sold to a tribute concert for Casal on September 25, 2019 at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. Additional funds were raised through a Kickstarter campaign comprised by two primary packages: a coffee table photography book, 'Tomorrow's Sky: Photographs by Neal Casal,' available here, that was released in October 2020 and a 41-song tribute album, 'Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal' that’s planned for autumn 2021 release and available now for pre-order, including artists like Phil Lesh, Warren Haynes, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Steve Earle and many more performing songs from Casal's sprawling body of work.
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Pictured Left to Right:
Jeffrey Palma / Morris Knolls High School student
Tyler Skelly / Morris Knolls High School student
Willa Scantlebury / Neal Casal Music Foundation board member
Kiersten Krogstad / Morris Knolls High School student
Mark Seibel / Neal Casal Music Foundation merchandise manager
Gary Waldman / Neal Casal Music Foundation executive director
Alexandria Stevenson / Morris Knolls High School student
Dan Schwartz / Morris Knolls High School band director