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"Uncle" Lionel Paul Batiste Sr., Bass Drum BORN: New Orleans, November z, 1931 Member of the Treme Brass Band Interviewed on South Park Place, September zooi /wasborn andraised in the Treme.I'm not related to any othermusicians with thesame name.My daddy was Walter LewisBatiste— he wasfrom outside of New Orleans.He moved here when he wasyoung, and that's when he met my momma. He was a blacksmith; he used to shoe horses.Then he quit thatjob after he waspushed by one of the mules. My momma's name was Alma Trepagnier Batiste . I havefour sisters and six brothers. I was theyoungest of the eleven—all my brothersplayed guitar and banjo. In the area whereI was raised up was rightacross from Craig School. Around the corner at yft Marais Street,Jim Robinson lived, the tromboneplayer. In the thirteen hundred block wasLittleJim, Sidney Brown—heplayed upright bassand tuba. And in thefifteen hundred block, that's where Kid Howard was living. On St. Claude, that's where Alton Purnell thepianoplayer lived. I knew all of thosefellows. In the twelve hundred block of St. Philip Street, that's where Arthur Ogle the snare drummer lived. The nine hundred block of St. Claude Street was where Willie Parker was. And "Bazooka Noone" [Johnson] was in the neighborhood. And Smiley Lewis, CousinJoe—I was around all them. They saw I was interested. I always liked to be around musicians. At onetime, I wasplaying a littlepiccolo. Where we were living at was acrossfrom the school. And when the school band would be rehearsing, I would be on the step,playing drums along with them. My daddy bought a drum for me. There was an upright bassplayer, name of Halsey, walked with a limp. And Slow Drag and Mr. Alphonse Picou. George Lewis is related to me. My daddy showed George Lewis, soI understand, how toplay a nickel flute. My daddy played guitar and banjo too.He mostly entertained us,people in the neighborhood. Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Lionel BatisteSr. Photo by Peter Nissen 87 I knew Burnell Santiago when he lived on St. Claude Street; roe all came up around that area.He was living right behind St. Philip. He wasgood—jou couldn'tfool with him. Heplayed all kinds, including classical.My daddy had all kinds of instruments in the house, except a horn. I used tofool with all of them, even thepiano. My sister wasgoing to lessons. I'd bealongside, and I'd watch them. My oldest brotherplayedpiano too—in those days, everybody's houseyou went to, they had apiano. I learned how toplay "Salty Dog." My mom used to sing a lot, and my oldestsister. All of us could entertain. Like we'd gather round thepiano, have some wine, have aparty. Right in the Treme—I'm very proud of the Treme. I used to take apiece of wood, tap dance to the music—I must have been around nine years old. My first job wasfor Benny Jones's daddy, Mr. Chester. Benny had an uncleplayedpiano. Thejob was acrossthe river, aplace calledthe Pepper Pot. Professor Longhair, Smiley Lewis, a lot of themplayed over there. And right there on St. Philip and Burgundy was a barroom called the Honey Dripper . That's where Smiley Lewis, CousinJoe, and Walter Nelsonplayed. Walter was living across the street, in a rooming house called the Monkey Puzzle. His son, Walter Junior—they called him Papoose—he got his break with Fats Domino. Papoose was a better player than his daddy, except for the blues—you can't beat those old men for playing blues. He had a little brother—they called him Prince La La—he had in mind that he couldplay better than Papoose, but he couldn 't. And he had an aunt called Black Emma—sheplayed the hell out of the banjo. Her right name was Emma Guichard. People would comefrom outside the Treme toplay. Like the dance nights on the weekend. They all used togo in theyard at the Monkey Puzzle and practice. I haven'tplayed guitar orbanjo for a long while,butI still havean instrument. I mostly chord, but as soon as I get into agroove, a stringpops. I sang in the church choir. My ma and my uncle used to sing all the time. They'd spin the bottle.If it stopped onyou,you had to sing. Another thing they'd do,you had to dance with the bottle. Youput the wine bottle on thefloor,andyou takejour twofeet, andyou move like that...


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