New Orleans – Boys and Girls Clubs Conf., Music nights 5/11-12/2016

The whole rationale for visiting New Orleans, as if we needed one, was for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America national conference entitled “Imagine the Possibilities.” 3 days of programs, workshops, seminars, all designed to help local Clubs expand and improve the programs and services that help the youth who need us most reach their full potential. I’m proud to work for Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB), and our 11 Clubs and programs that serve 16,000 young people annually. And outraged by what I learned at the Conference from Harvard’s Dr. Robert Putnam on the opportunity gap in America now:


Family income is now more important than ability. The chart above shows that, when you compare college-completion rates based on a student’s family income vs. the student’s test scores, the “dumbest” rich kids have a better chance of completing college than the “smartest” poor kids. What a shameful waste of talent! Dr. Putnam said that in the last century, a shared sense of “we” and a shared investment in advancing ALL kids was critical in growing the American economy for everyone. Now we’ve gone from a sense of “we” to an “us vs. them” mindset. But, we’ve addressed similar problems before, and we can do it again. We addressed the last big income inequality crisis of the Gilded Age of the early 1900s with universal free high school under Teddy Roosevelt. It’s long past time to re-invest in the potential of ALL kids – and that’s what BGCB does, and earns great results for our kids and our communities.

[Steps off soap-box]

Evenings after the Conference sessions, we headed out for – music! Here’s a little of the Wednesday at the Square concert, in Lafayette Square, featuring blues piano virtuoso Marcia Ball. Sponsorship by the Pain Intervention Center makes for an interesting stage backdrop – I thought good music was the cure for whatever ails ya!

Next night, we took the streetcar

up to Frenchman St. – I’d vote it the hands-down best music street in the nation, if not the planet. 1st stop: Bamboulas, for fried green tomatoes (resisted the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger, even though the menu describes it as “way better than it sounds.”)

and Jenavieve Cook & the Royal Windin Boys in Yiddish – Bei Mir Bist Du Schein.

Second Line parade passed by the windows – that’s a semi-organized pub-crawl with costumed crawlers led by a brass band, and we got a chance to watch the 2nd Line later on the street:



Next Stop – the Spotted Cat, featuring Miss Sophie Lee.

Final stop – Apple Barrel bar, with the New Orleans Swinging Gypsies, and the best drink of the week – “An Apple A Day.” Enjoying the music and libations, when a snappily-dressed couple walks in and starts jitterbugging in the tiniest space (or is lindy hop?), with their feet moving even faster than the banjo players fingers. Ah, Frenchman Street! We WILL be back.










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