Monday, July 9, 2012

Uncle Lionel Batiste, Treme Brass Band bass drummer, has passed (1931-2012).

Our dear friend and bass drummer for the Treme Brass Band, Uncle Lionel Batiste, has passed away this past weekend. The Preservation Hall family misses Uncle Lionel and we send our condolences to his family and fellow Treme Brass Band members.

By Keith Spera of The Times-Picayune

"Uncle" Lionel Batiste, the Treme Brass Band’s longtime bass drummer and a beloved, dapper character who reveled in charming women of all ages on the dance floor, died early Sunday at Ochsner Baptist Medical Center after a brief battle with cancer. He was 80.

Mr. Batiste was an iconic figure in the brass band community and the larger world of New Orleans music. With his omnipresent sunglasses, a wristwatch worn across his hand, and his kazoo, he literally moved to the beat of his own drum.

In the traditional brass band cap, white shirt and black tie, Mr. Batiste appeared in numerous commercials and TV shows, including HBO's "Treme." He was also featured on the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell's souvenir Congo Square poster by artist Terrance Osborne.

Many local musicians cite him as a role model. Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins has referred to Mr. Batiste as “my total influence,” who taught Ruffins “how to act, how to dress and how to feel about life."

“Inside Uncle Lionel’s bass drum," said fellow drummer Herman LeBeaux, "is the pulse of the city."

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