This is an open-ended blog ranging from news about my latest gigs and publications
to ruminations about politics, world affairs, culture and whatever piques my interest—or ire.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Uncle Lionel Batiste, a popular bass drummer, singer and colorful character on the New Orleans music scene since the 1940s, died on July 8 at the age of 81. He was a longtime member of the Treme Brass Band and was frequently featured on the HBO series "Treme," which used his iconic image in its publicity and posters. Gaunt-faced and skinny as a drumstick, always dressed to the nines, he was a familiar figure in the Frenchmen Street music clubs and the Palm Court Jazz Cafe. He would regularly show up, unannounced, whirl a pretty girl around the dance floor, then grab the microphone and sing a blues or ballad to the delight of the audience and musicians alike. His warm, humorous singing style was captured on several CD's including two produced by pianist Lars Edegran. I had the honor of accompanying him on several tracks, as well as in this video of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" shot in the Palm Court last March:

Colorful and flashy till the end, Uncle Lionel had a wake that was probably unique in the history of the undertaking profession: instead of being laid out in a casket, he was displayed standing up, leaning against a faux lamp post, dressed in his sporting clothes with his hands covered with the rings and jewelry that were part of his trademark. Check out Keith Spera's account and accompanying photographs:

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