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’s Treme, 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: