Category Archives: New Orleans

NOLA 2014 – Thank You Berklee!

So far in New Orleans the weather is fantastic, and there’s music every where. The group is genuinely jovial and excited to be here. We walked through Louis Armstrong park and were grateful to see something so historic. Berklee is giving all of us an amazing experience! To work on a Habitat site that will benefit the lives of people who may not have this opportunity otherwise is so very rewarding to all of us. “The hotel staff already thanked us for our service for an area that really needs help.” -Erin  

As we went around the city and people asked us where we are from, we heard the same thing multiple times, thank you so much for your service. I recently read an article that says when you are kind to someone it releases serotonin in that person, it also releases serotonin in yourself, and anyone who witnesses the act of kindness also releases it. What an amazing thing we can do for each other.

On a side note, I had two amazing celebrity experiences recently, thanks to Berklee.

First, after the commencement ceremony I removed Jimmy Pages’ ceremony robes (that might sound strange but they are rather elaborate to get into). As I was doing this, he noticed my snare drum and sticks tattoo and asked if I was a drummer. “Of course”, I said, “I’m a rock ‘n roller just like John Bonham.” We talked for two to three minutes about John. After the conversation was over I was in such awe that I don’t even remember what he said! Wow!

Second, after we left dinner last night in the French Quarter we walked past an open air bar, and I just happened to glance through the place and who do I see in New Orleans standing at the bar? Dave Grohl! Another one of my favorite rockers. I immediately took my picture with him and then couldn’t say anything else. I am a huge fan and my mind went blank, again. That’s ok, I am so truly grateful for both of these experiences! Thanks for reading this, stayed tuned for more updates from the team. -Sara T (trip leader and celebrity magnet) ha!

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Gracenotes/Habitat for Humanity New Orleans Trip 2013

Garden District Home

Earlier this spring, I applied to be one of the volunteers in this year’s Gracenotes Rebuilding the Birthplace of Jazz trip to New Orleans to assist through Habitat for Humanity in the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  I was delighted and honoured to join this year’s team.  I imagined that the week would consist of hard work building on the Habitat site followed by evenings exploring the city and listening to music in a city that was pretty much back on its feet after the devastating storm of August, 2005.  The city is exciting and vibrant; it is lauded as one of the most unique cities in the United States and I agree wholeheartedly.  Live music pulsed out of every restaurant, bar and café and on every street corner of the French Quarter, Bywater, Marigny, and Treme that I passed.  Continue reading

Last Night in New Orleans

So today is our last night here in New Orleans and there is so much to talk about it is hard to put everything I have experienced into words.  My name is Matt Frias and this was my first trip to New Orleans.  I have always wanted to travel here to experience the culture, music and excitement that it brings. Ever since Katrina, I have wanted to come down and help rebuild the city in any way that I could. Since Katrina was 8 years ago, I was expecting to see many of the homes to be rebuilt and lived in.  When we arrived at the Habitat house in the 7th ward, I was shocked to see that the lot across the street and the lot next door were completely abandoned.  There are many reasons that contribute to this but the devastation after Katrina played a significant part.

Our cab driver, Mo, informed us that about 400,000 people have not returned to the city since Katrina.  We took a cab ride tour of the Musician’s Village that Habitat helped build. We also saw the lower 9th ward where Brad Pitt has rebuilt many homes. Even with these rebuilt parts of the city there are still many homes completely destroyed and abandoned.

Brad Pitt Built Home

Abandoned Building in same neighborhood as Brad Pitt Houses.

Working with the Habitat Family receiving the home was so fulfilling.  I personally worked with Roshand and Jayson on Friday putting up siding on the house.  It was great to see the two interact and find out about their lives and kids.  They are a great couple and made me laugh a ton.  Apparently, my Boston accent made them laugh as well as they called me out on it every time I said something ending in r.  It was also great to see Roshand’s dad come out and help on Saturday with his dreadlocks and renditions of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love”.

It was a treat speaking to the gentleman that lives 2 doors down from Roshand and Jayson’s future home.  He let us all use his hose for water and pet his terrier dog “Mickey”.  He told me about how the water reached 8 feet near his house from Katrina. This gentleman was like many of the people we met, welcoming and very appreciative of what we were here to do.

It is hard to leave when you see so much more work needs to be done not only to Roshand and Jayson’s house, but also the neighborhoods surrounding their house.  I did the most work I could do in the little time given and feel great about the work we did accomplish here.  I left my sweat all over that house, from the roof, attic, siding, even beneath the house.

Me fastening bolts under the house.

The trip was also very culturally rewarding.  New Orleans is unlike any place I have visited before, from the unbelievable music, cuisine, and arts.  Many people come here for partying on Bourbon Street, but there is so much more.  We worked many hours per day, but had some time to enjoy the food each night, some live music at Preservation Hall, the Garden District, and just plain old good times with good people that I seldom or rarely interact with in our everyday lives at Berklee. It was great to get to know and work with Maria, Matthias, Lesley, Kathleen, Benai, and Joe for a few days. I know I feel I have made 6 new friends on this trip.

The Group!

I am so glad I had this opportunity to help rebuild one of the most unique cities I have ever been to in my entire life.  Even if what we did is a small fraction of what needs to be done, it was so rewarding to know I had a small hand in helping out a family and city that still needs some help. Thank you Berklee for letting me be part of such an extraordinary and life changing trip.

Goodbye NOLA!

New Orleans Habitat for Humanity Trip 2013

Birth Place of Jazz











Hi I’m Matthias Lupri. Thanks to Berklee and the Gracenotes committee for sending a team once again down to New Orleans. It was a full week to help out with the rebuilding from the devastation of hurricane Katrina, through the organization Habitat for Humanity. I have been here a few times for jazz events, but all prior to this horrible tragedy.  It is very clear that much help is still needed here in this very colorful city of French Creole flair.

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