RIP Uncle Lionel Batiste

I was saddened to hear the news of the passing of Lionel Batiste – known to everyone in the Vieux Carre as “Uncle Lionel” – one of the most colorful and recognizable figures of the neighborhood.  Always superbly dressed and with an almost regal carriage, he was a kind of ambassador of the Quarter – whether greeting folks with the tip of his hat, a warm and enthusiastic handshake, or stopping by for an impromptu “sit-in” as guest vocalist with a band at the Palm Court.  Uncle Lionel was strutting on the street in front of the first band I ever jammed with down in Jackson Square when we were first introduced. It seemed almost inevitable that I would cross paths with him at some point on every subsequent visit I made to the city.  In a city with a history filled with notable nicknamed characters, Lionel Batiste always offered encouragement to players and bands, surely becoming a symbolic “Uncle” to many who will never forget him.  As they say, “He was a good-timer…”.Photo of Uncle Lionel

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