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HOOTIE AND THE BLOWFISH, the South Carolina multi Grammy-winning quartet consisting of Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, and Jim "Soni" Sonefeld, will team up with fellow keyboardist Peter Holsapple October 16-20, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana to build "Musicians' Village" homes. Holsapple was one of the thousands of Louisiana natives who lost his home in 2005 to Hurricane Katrina, so the cause is close to home in more ways than one.
"At this point we feel that bringing our entire band and crew down to New Orleans for 5 days of building houses is as important as writing a check to the charity. This trip allows us to not only contribute to those in need, but also to other 'musicians' in need. It feels like we're reaching out and helping our own family," said Hootie & the Blowfish drummer, Jim "Soni" Sonefeld.
"My friends on the Hootie tour have stood beside me and my family through it all and have now decided to join in and do some work in a city that has always loved the band and boasts many of its best friends," says Holsapple who was a 13 year resident of New Orleans when Katrina hit. On tour with the band at the time of the hurricane, Holsapple has recorded and toured with Hootie & The Blowfish since 1995, toured and recorded with REM, and was a session player for John Hiatt, Juliana Hatfield, the Indigo Girls, Melissa Ferrick.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita forced many musicians to flee New Orleans. Jazz, blues, and other genres that are the city's musical score, cannot return until the musicians return, and many have lost their homes. Habitat for Humanity International and New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, working with Harry Connick Jr., and Branford Marsalis, honorary chairs of Operation Home Delivery, seek to change this. Plans were announced Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2005 for a "Musicians' Village." Operation Home Delivery is Habitat for Humanity International's hurricane rebuilding program and this Musicians' Village is one of the many projects along the Gulf Coast.
The Musicians' Village, conceived by Connick and Marsalis, will consist of 81 Habitat-constructed homes for displaced New Orleans musicians. Its centerpiece will be the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, dedicated to the education and development of homeowners and others who will live nearby. On January 9, 2006 Habitat acquired eight acres of land in the Upper 9th Ward where the Musicians' Village will be located. On August 19, 2006, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity dedicated 31 completed homes at the core Musicians' Village site. In addition to the homes in the tract, plans call for building at least 150 other homes in the surrounding neighborhood.
Generosity from the group comes as no surprise to H&TB supporters who have assisted the band in their national Homegrown Concert Series by contributing school supplies at the shows in 12 national markets for local deserving children. To date, the tour has filled 19 school buses averaging roughly $75,000 total in supplies.