Help us Build a Hope for Home


3775 Oliver Street, Washington, DC
United States
38° 57' 47.178" N, 76° 57' 11.0988" W

A benefit cocktail party to support the rebuilding and relocation effort for the thousands of New Orleans’ musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina

A benefit cocktail party to support the rebuilding and relocation effort for the thousands of New Orleans’ musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina

Saturday, December 1

7:30 PM

3775 Oliver Street,
Washington, DC


$100 minimum donation per guest. Space is limited so first come, first serve

Donations to Sweet Home New Orleans are fully tax deductible

Event hosts are covering all costs, so 100% of proceeds collected at this party are going to the beneficiaries

Help us Build a Hope for Home

To find the roots of American music, you need to look no further than New Orleans. The city’s rich and vibrant culture has contributed to almost all of our nation’s musical idioms, from jazz and funk to rhythm & blues and rock ‘n’ roll. At the heart of it all are New Orleans’ musicians whose oversized talent and contagious energy make up the soul and spirit of the Big Easy.

Sadly, the ravages of Hurricane Katrina displaced many of the city’s beloved artists. Although some have picked up the pieces, others are still struggling. With entire communities destroyed, relocation and housing remain major concerns. But bringing life back to damaged neighborhoods isn’t just about hammers, nails and wood. It’s about ensuring that the city’s musicians have the resources and support to keep contributing to not only New Orleans culture, but also America’s.

Eric and Sharpat Kessler, Mike Mills from R.E.M., Michael Petricone and the Future of Music Coalition invite you to join us on Saturday, December 1 at 7:30 PM at the Kessler’s house for a cocktail party to support the rebuilding and relocation effort for the thousands of New Orleans’ musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina. The party will include cocktails, hor d’ouevres and music by Mike Mills from R.E.M. and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson.

Al "carnival time" Johnson Sweet Home New Orleans

About Al “Carnival Time” Johnson

Alvin Lee Johnson is better known to everyone in New Orleans as Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. His famous song, “Carnival Time”, originally recorded in February 1960, has become a Mardi Gras tradition, and it continues to be performed every Mardi Gras/Carnival Time season.

But Al, like many musicians in New Orleans, was a victim of Hurricane Katrina. The Gambit Weekly recounts his story: “I lost everything in Katrina. I was in Mississippi for a barbecue the Saturday before the storm, and we tried to come back that day, but they wouldn’t let us in.” Johnson’s home was on Tennessee Street in the Lower Ninth Ward. “Water filled it up. The house got moved off the foundation and back into the yard 25 feet. We came back after the storm and Armand and Patty St. Martin and the Arabi Wrecking Krewe went in and salvaged some stuff, some laminated stuff.”

But his ordeal wasn’t nearly over. According to Johnson, “The city came in and bulldozed the house. I didn’t request it. In fact, I was trying to get them to let it stay, but they said that it was in imminent danger.”

Since then, Johnson has been spending half his time in Houston and half in New Orleans. He has been approved for a house in the Musicians’ Village, and there have been several benefits on his behalf. “Everything is uncertain,” he says, “I had one address for years and now I don’t have one.”

To quote the Arabi Wrecking Krewe: “Without musicians such as Al, New Orleans can never be the same. He represents the lifeblood of the city’s soul. He and his peers are the anchors of the city’s musical heritage; the youth need teachers and musical role models. Al Johnson IS New Orleans.”

About Sweet Home New Orleans

Sweet Home New Orleans is an umbrella organization for fourteen non-profits serving New Orleans musicians, Mardi Gras Indians, and Social Aid & Pleasure Club members. Our mission is to help these tradition bearers return to and stay in their neighborhoods, where they can revive the city and perpetuate a unique American culture. Sweet Home provides relocation, rental, and renovation assistance, and operates a case management system that connects artists to an array of resources, from health care to performance subsidies.

Of the 4,500 tradition bearers living in New Orleans prior to Katrina, nearly 3,000 have yet to secure stable housing in the city.  1,500 of these families remain displaced outside the metro area. 

  • Sweet Home New Orleans directs resources to this community through an innovative data-sharing system that connects local and national service providers.

  • Since opening its intake center in June of 2007, Sweet Home has served 250 tradition bearers with $150,000 in housing aid, and approximately $96,000 in assistance from our network of partners.

  • Sweet Home New Orleans administers housing assistance through a case management system that addresses each household’s needs holistically.

If you cannot join us in person, we also urge you to donate to the cause. Simply fill out the secure RSVP form and check the box that says “I’m skipping the party”, or send a friend in your name.

Thank you for your generosity.