By Julie Lawrence Special to Published May 01, 2008 at 5:07 AM

Two years ago, the music community came together to support Sam Steffke, a local musician who had contracted a rare blood disease. The grassroots event was called JAM 4 SAM, and brought together 700 people for a benefit concert and auction for Steffke.

Steffke has since recovered and is now a director for JAM 4 S.A.M., the meaning of which has morphed from Sam the person to S.A.M., an acronym for Serving Ailing Musicians. The non-profit organization now raises money to help professional, self-employed musicians in Wisconsin who are struggling financially due to a medical crisis.

Last July it organized a benefit for Jim Kishline, a musician who suffered a serious head injury in an accident. Fifteen bands and musicians performed, including Steffke, Paul Cebar and Willy Porter.

JAM 4 S.A.M. is now approaching its third event and teams with the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) for the Double WAMI JAM 4 S.A.M.I this Sunday, May 4 at The Rave.

"This year it's a little different because we don't have a specific person to donate the money to," says Jam 4 S.A.M. president Tom Utschig. "Instead, we're going to save it until we have a pool to help as many Wisconsin musicians who qualify under the mission statement as we can."

Musicians in need can apply for assistance, and the organization's advisory board and a physician review the applications. JAM 4 S.A.M. determines the individuals' need and provides appropriate services; anything from car payments to mortgage payments to food or gas cards.

"Over the long haul, I think the impact is huge, and it spills over into the community at large," says Utschig. "Austin, Texas has a similar program and when you're there you can sense the security in the music community and care that the people have for the musicians. I look forward to seeing that happen in Milwaukee."

Utschig says he hopes his organization's growth leads them into the Madison and Fox Valley markets with more events and the opportunity to provide group health insurance policies for self-employed musicians.

Working with WAMI means that all of this year's musical performers are WAMI nominees.

The lineup:
Alaria Taylor -- 2 p.m.
The Invaders -- 2:30 p.m.
The Liam Ford Band -- 3 p.m.
In Black 'n White -- 3:30 p.m.
Jack Grassel with Jill Jensen -- 4 p.m.
Ronnie Nyles and Talullah Who -- 4:30 p.m.
Hindsight -- 5 p.m.
Kojo -- 5:30 p.m.
The Toys -- 6 p.m.

The Rave's doors open at 1 p.m. and music starts at 2 p.m. There is a $20 donation charge at entry.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”