Dave Matthews Band announced today that it has issued a $1.5 million challenge grant to help build the New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village. The Village is a Habitat for Humanity project that seeks to build more than 300 homes in the city's Upper Ninth Ward with musicians and other New Orleanians who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village was conceived by Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr., honorary chairs of Habitat for Humanity's hurricane rebuilding program Operation Home Delivery. The Village will consist of Habitat-constructed homes and will feature the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, named for the patriarch of the Marsalis clan, modern jazz pioneer and native New Orleanian.

"After the hurricane first struck, we were shocked by the destruction, and we knew we wanted to help," said Dave Matthews Band. "We organized a concert with the Neville Brothers and the John Butler Trio shortly after the storm. The generosity of our fans and everyone involved exceeded our expectations."

That concert in Denver raised $1.5 million and is the source of funding for the challenge grant. "We want to thank the Denver community for making this grant possible," said Dave Matthews Band. "Many people donated their time and resources to keep costs to a minimum so we could maximize the donation.

"The recovery in New Orleans is moving very slowly," said the band. "This is our way to get the word out that there is more work to do, and ask people to step up to the challenge and make a donation to help."

Contributions to the New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village will be matched dollar for dollar through the grant, raising the total donation potential to $3 million. Donations can be made online by visiting http://www.habitat-nola.org and clicking on Musicians' Village.