Lionel Batiste, R.I.P.

Lionel Batiste, a New Orleans original from a musical family, passed away yesterday at the age of 81. He was so universally beloved that everyone called him Uncle Lionel. He was a singer, drummer and leader of the Treme Brass Band. You probably saw him on HBO’sTreme, beating on his drum and being the coolest cat in the crowd. He was usually the best dressed too.

I became acquainted with Uncle Lionel when I had my shop at Jackson Square. He’d pop in to browse, chat and kvetch about how bad some of the younger street musicians were. The thing I *really* loved about Uncle Lionel was that he called me “young man.”

Below is an awesome picture Dr. A took of Uncle Lionel second lining in the Economy Hall Trad Jazz tent at Jazz Fest in 2007:


4 thoughts on “Lionel Batiste, R.I.P.

  1. That is Helen Arlt–former president of the New Orleans Jazz Club with Uncle Lionel.

  2. I tried to explain even the ‘concept’ of such a human as Uncle Lionel to my co-worker who wondered why I looked down…and it kind of beggared description to non-NOLA-type folks (folks who think there’s just the drunken shenanigans on Bourbon St). Knowing one human being, even a spindly one w/a mondo bass drum can make such an impact on a city’s populace makes me wish everyone in the world would try just a bit to be the best human they could be, make another person’s day…dress cool just because…
    I ordered the Treme’ 200th anniversary poster yesterday. It will look great framed and in our NOLA home along w/the Mardi Gras Indian poster from Lord David just over a year ago (stored for now). I wish I could be there for Unc’s second line…it will be a helluva time. I’m hoping it will be streamed.

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